Saturday, 10 January 2004

In the very first row of the second-raters

That was where Somerset Maugham, in his autobiography, placed himself. Perhaps that was a little presumptuous, as was the tribute to him that appeared in Punch at the time of his 80th birthday, when he was sunning himself like an old lizard in the south of France:

As I bask in Antibes and in honour,
I consider the works of my pen
Which have made me in one long lifetime
All things to all literate men:
A Stevenson told of the facts of life,
A Kipling shorn of his creed,
The rich man’s Marie Corelli
The poor man’s André Gide.

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