Creatures of Circumstance - W. Somerset Maugham

Creatures of Circumstance (London: Heinemann, 1947).

I have got the first edition of this short story collection by Maugham, Creatures of Circumstance. You will find in this post a brief discussion of its content, information about the first edition, and where you can buy one with very reasonable price.

Maugham's Short Stories: Creatures of Circumstance

This is the last short story collection that Maugham publishes. In the preface Maugham defends himself against the accusation of critics on magazine stories and reiterates his preference for stories constructed with a beginning, a middle and an end.

One of Maugham's merits is his choice of title. This collection includes a series of stories of how the characters react to circumstances that are thrust upon them and how their lives are then shaped by the choices that they have made.

The book contains:

  • The Author Excuses Himself
  • The Colonel's Lady
  • Flotsam and Jetsam
  • Appearance and Reality
  • The Mother
  • Sanatorium
  • A Woman of Fifty
  • The Romantic Young Lady
  • A Casual Affair
  • The Point of Honour
  • Winter Cruise
  • The Happy Couple
  • A Man From Glasgow
  • The Unconquered
  • Episode
  • The Kite

My favourite is "Flotsam and Jetsam", which is a very powerful story superbly told; it literally takes your breath away. "The Mother," "The Point of Honour" and "The Romantic Young Lady" are set in Spain, and Maugham succeeds in conveying the foreignness of the passionate Spaniards which is quite beyond Anglo-Saxon comprehension and how history flows in racial memory. Do not confuse "The Point of Honour" with another brief story with the same title in On the Chinese Screen. "The Unconquered" narrates a terrifying war episode which rings truer than the propaganda work that Maugham took up during WWII.

First editions of Creatures of Circumstance are within very reasonable price for both UK and US stated first. However, it is advisable to contact the seller before ordering, because there are at least two reimpressions in 1947. This is one of the books that I had to return.

Alternatively, one can Search for creatures of circumstance maugham for other editions.

You will find links to the full text of these shorts stories onthe free ebooks - short stories page with information on their publication history.