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Monday, October 28, 2013

I Repeat - First, The Book

Finally, a classic that grabbed me in a big way. What was the last classic that did that for you?

"The Painted Veil" (1925) by W. Somerset Maugham is a straightforward tale of the human capacity for growth. Each of the three main characters are human, wholly believable and the words each speak mesh beautifully with their characters.

When it became clear Walter Fane was about to succumb to cholera, my experience with death scenes from other classics I'd recently finished gave me pause. Happily, Maugham does not agonizingly prolong the scene, thereby making it more poignant. And the brief reunion Kitty Fane has with her erstwhile lover Charles Townsend near the end of the book is occasion for one of the great send-offs in all of literature: "You really are the most vain and fatuous ass I've ever had the bad luck to run across".

Re "The Painted Veil" - only two things I'd change: A few sentences during Kitty's final scene with her Father and... next time I'd read the book before seeing the film; couldn't get Ed Norton, Naomi Watts and Liev Schreiber out of my head -  I hate that.

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