Artists and Hacks: Maugham's Cakes and Ale

Palmer, R. Barton. "Artists and Hacks: Maugham's Cakes and Ale." South Atlantic Review 46 (1981): 54-63.

This article examines the relationship between Of Human Bondage and Cakes and Ale, and based on the comparison reevaluates the merits of the latter. The critic identifies Willie Ashenden here as different from the usual narrator in other Maugham stories, for he is involved in the story instead of being a stander-by observing others' follies. He sees the novel as mainly concerning itself with the conflict of Maugham torn between the dilemma of being a popular writer and one seeking truth in art, which is dramatised by Alroy Kear and Edward Driffield, both an alter ego of Maugham the writer.