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MAUGHAM'S BARE BLUNT STYLE (standard:Editorials, 691 words)
Author: DAVID TUMUSIIMEAdded: Mar 23 2003Views/Reads: 2756/0Story vote: 0.00 (0 votes)
i think the style of a writer is the most important equipment he or she has when writing and in life.


Somerset Maugham was a clever man. Realizing or being made to realize
his gift was not the spectacular kind, his personality was not 
exceptional enough to be either very good or very bad, he devised a 
technique for himself to survive because in spite of all he remained 
cursedly sensitive like the persons whose calibre he was denied. He 
adopted the bare blunt style in living and in writing that belonged in 
his time to the despised common people. 

The bare blunt style stood for common sense, for forthright openness,
unblinking honesty. It was supposed to be earthy and natural, opposed 
to artificiality and dilettantism. It was supposed to be, most 
importantly, anti-academia-intellectual, his deadliest enemies. It was, 
finally. Supposed to link him to the humble common people who knew 
their own worth and had no illusion. 

But he never did belong to the common people and neither was his outlook
was so simplistic as he wanted everyone to believe. He thought deeply 
and long like any scholar-intellectual as his The Summing Up shows on 
Life and Death and Art and Beauty and Politics and Religion. His 
conclusions on these subjects, though he struggles in this book to make 
simple and clear, were never that. 

Though he scoffed at the Walter Pater's, Henry James's, Marcel Proust's,
James Joyce's for their convoluted styles that was an attempt to say 
everything, he himself came to doubt whether the simple say-it-as-it-is 
style he adopted was any better or in fact the morally right one to use 
for a writer who had a serious message. Being Maugham, he opted that 
neither was any good; language was a ridiculous limited form. Music was 
the only medium capable of encompassing all human emotional range in a 
closed off form. 

His own bare blunt style forced him to take extreme positions he did not
fully believe in when judging but he always retorted an extreme 
position was a position, better than the aesthetes who tried to 
consider every position and were ending up with none. His bare blunt 
style of course also by demanding definiteness in the simple black and 
white, Yes or No tradition helped him evade dealing in his writing with 
his less than black and white sexuality, his homosexuality. 

Far though from the modern connotations of evasiveness with negativity,
his bare blunt style by demanding he take a position on his sexuality 
helped him deal with it. He denied his homosexuality in public. By 
denying it, he did not have to deal with it in his writing because it 
did not exist. 

This was a good thing. A good thing because if he had had any other
style that allowed it to creep in his writing, like Henry James's style 
allowed, Maugham being the confrontational person he was would have 
been forced to take a positive public stand on homosexuality. 

In his time that would have been the end of him as a person and a
writer. He would have been destroyed like Oscar Wilde was completely 

Any other style, the convoluted style in particular, would have left him
an emotional cripple worse than he was like Henry James was, unable to 
have any real relationship was another human being. It would have 
forced soul-destroying introspection for him. 

By allowing him to deny his homosexuality in his writing, his bare blunt
style left him free to deal with other topics that writers who do not 
have to think about their sexuality deal with. This was a good thing 
and it is hardly exaggerated to say the style he chose to write in 
saved him and enabled him to live a sprightly ninety-one years. 

In the end though he realized its inadequacy not long before he stopped
public writing. The bare blunt style had not been able to express all 
he was. He made a profounder discovery. No art form can fully express 
all a human being is. Art can only smatter and babble and reveal a 
little. Only life can encompass all a human being is because it is just 
it that made that human being and life is inimitable. 


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