From Maugham himself

On presenting Of Human Bondage to the Library of Congress in 1946:
I suggest to you that it is enough for a novelist to be a good novelist. It is unnecessary for him to be a prophet, a preacher, a politician or a leader of thought. Fiction is an art and the purpose of art is to please. If in my quarters this is not acknowledged I can only suppose it is because of the unfortunate impression so widely held that there is something shameful in pleasure. But all pleasure is good. Only, some pleasures have mischievous consequences and it is better to eschew them. And of course there are intelligent pleasures and unintelligent pleasures. I venture to put the reading of a good novel amongst the most intelligent pleasures that man can enjoy.

Aurelius & the Confessional Life

Consider how the Meditations of Marcus Aurelius express the 5 elements of the Confessional Life as outlined by Prof. H. Mark Roelofs (NYU):

  1. a condition of isolation in a universal context
  2. an intense inward effort to stay alive (i.e. to affirm life)
  3. an attempt to identify that ground of existence which will not give way and from which one need not retreat
  4. an ethic: to be and do the right thing with an awareness of one's finitude in a universal context
  5. a faith, as opposed to knowledge, which makes life livable in the face of the unknowable

Follow posts on Moby Dick

To get a head start for our reading of Moby Dick, I'll be posting short quotations and an occasional comment. Here's the latest I've highlighted today in my edition: "But I don't fancy having a man smoking in bed with me. It's dangerous. Besides, I ain't insured." (Ishmael - Ch. 3)