Maugham’s Sad Razor
The author: W. Somerset Maugham.
The book: The Razor’s Edge.
so here’s what i think. razor’s edge is an absolute depressing tragedy. despite the narrator’s best efforts to trick us into thinking otherwise. dont you dare buy into that happiness nonsense.
ok. so here we go. we all get that the narrator sets up elliot (socialite) and larry (loafer) as foils–yes, please look that word up if you do not live and breathe it–one shows us the patheticness of trying nothing more than to be part of society; the other shows the rewards of being independent from it. these guys are quite clearly opposites, and are put next to each other to make a point.
no, no, no, no.
they are the same. and meet the same fate. and everything is miserable. for everyone.
ok. so here we go. and the story ends (eyes closed, if you haven’t read), “for all the persons with whom i have been concerned got what they wanted: elliot social eminence; isabel an assured position backed by a substantial fortune in an active and cultured community; gray a steady and lucrative job; suzanne rouvier security; sophie death; and larry happiness.” so it is a happy story with a happy end and the characters are all happy and we should be happy, too. how do we know? because the narrator tells us: “i had written nothing more or less than a success story . . . and we the public in our heart of hearts all like a success story.”
dont. trust. that. shit. au contraire, as the little frenchies from the story would say. dogmeat, as i would say.
imho, the narrator makes it quite clear that he thinks elliot’s values or life or goals or perspective or whatever you call it are silly, and thinks that we should too and we should judge and judge hard. now to the text. onward to that breach. from the chapter where elliot dies. the narrator calls him pathetic at least 3 times. and the absurdity that all elliot can think of is getting that invite to the stupid party is clear. same with being dressed in his little outfit. and then elliot dies and the last words he says are that the hostess was a bitch and, yes, these words are silly and not the thoughts of the dying or the happy or the meaningfulled (sic). so, is that really a success story? um, he is bitter and angry and sad and dead. ah, I see. a success story. yes, let’s take the narrator’s conclusion at face value.
now, imho, elliot is larry, despite narrator’s faux jk’ing that one leads a more fulfilling life when one leads an independent life. the description of elliot on his deathbed is the same as the description of larry when he gets back from india. skinny. gaunt. hollow eyes. coincidence? I guess it’s amateur hour.
now, back to the list and the ending. let’s look at that list. imho (again), every characters’ fate in that list is miserable. sophie gets death. no, that’s a great prize. suzanne rouvier, the chick who has lived life as a muse to artists, gets to settle down with a man who is not an artist and who the narrator told us that she was not love in with. she is passion with arms and legs and hair; but her life is passionless. but at least she has security. no, that’s great too. let’s rejoice. isabel gets an assured position? yes, one without the love of her life where she goes around killing people. that’s not depressing or anything. gray, a job? oh boy, another big winner. we saw how having a job did him great earlier. oh wait, he was destroyed by it.
so, what does it mean, imho (last time), that larry’s included in this list? to me, it means that he is no different than the other characters, he too is a big winner. read: his fate is the same empty, hollow, dead fate as everyone else in this list and that his life is no different than theirs. he is elliot. skinny. gaunt. hollow eyes.
oh, woe. what is to come of me? and you, and you, and you? what a sad, sad book.
i will now find the gun stored in the house and put a hole in my head. locks beware and be wared.
a one man book club.
that is all. this is all courtesy of not working. brought to you by unemployment. thank you for your time.
your friend, the loafer,