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The Magician

The Magician - Robert Calder, W. Somerset Maugham I resented this book, because I loved Maugham's later work. It is difficult to accept that the author of [b:Of Human Bondage|31548|Of Human Bondage|W. Somerset Maugham|https://d.gr-assets.com/books/1386924695s/31548.jpg|2547187] wrote this one: it's not only weak, it's bad all through.

The idea of magic is not developed at all. I know this is before all the fantasy flooding the book market these days, but surely the very admitting supernatural powers to exist puts the question of how the initiated use them and for what ends. Maugham's answer is: to shock the public and revenge small insults on a grand scale. Wouldn't a real adept rather hide the powers and take the advantages?

The plot is monstrously formulaic. All the twists telegraphed from the start and the resolution seems to hastily cut the threads instead of tying them up. As to making Arthur and Susie come together at the end, I just haven't a word to say. Well, all the characters here fall flat, so how can I object at their behaving unrealistically when they are not realistic?

And how about some moral sense, perhaps there is one? Struggle between good and evil, or between reason and chaos, whatever? Nope. Just think of the starting premise: Arthur is Margaret's guardian and one of the first men she's known, he pays her way unknown to her, and when she finds out she continues to take his money and agrees to marry him! While he magnanimously waits till she turns nineteen, the mature age for taking independent decisions, I don't think. Magic spells versus financial dependence, that's the kind of struggle to consider, and I personally know which is more dangerous in this world.

The prose style is unbelievable, there are actually words used incorrectly (at first I thought that it's meant to show us Frenchmen don't speak English perfectly, but it seems all characters do this). I don't object to the verbosity (the girl who admires Henry James and Charles Dickens hardly can), but I'd like to see some harmony in it, and there isn't.

Nothing to say for it, all in all. "Juvenilia" is no excuse, and later Maugham needs no earthly excuses.