The Land of the Blessed Virgin - W. Somerset Maugham

The Land of the Blessed Virgin. Sketches and Impressions in Andalusia (London: Heinemann, 1905)

This is one of Maugham's early productions, the first example of a genre which he will come to manipulate to perfection in later years. Spain has since his first visit in 1897 held a special fascination for him; this book contains descriptions of the places that he visited in Andalusia.

It opens by situating himself in London, at home, going over the memory of Spain which is everything that is contrary to what he is seeing in front of him.

Though not as polished as his later books and at times it can be boring but it is still a very interesting read. At all time Maugham tries to penetrate into the essence of the Andalusians, through their history, the physical surroundings, the people, but as he confesses, something still seems to evade him. However, instead of feeling defeated, he is all the more fascinated by the land and its people.

This book is available in ebook format, freely downloadable. However, it is a nice object to be had. Only 1,250 copies were printed and half had to be remaindered. Certainly it was not a popular book. Price is high now, and I can hardly believe my luck when I locate a copy which costs less than 20 pounds, although it is not in perfect shape. I personally do not mind too much books in poor condition. My copy had some uncut pages, and it is such a strange sensation to cut them after a hundred and five years of its publication and to think that nobody has bothered to read through the whole book.