Title: Ashenden: or, The British Agent Author: Maugham, W. Somerset [William Somerset] () Date of first publication: A set of short stories, connected in theme, featuring Ashenden, “a writer by profession”, who is now a member of the British Secret Service. Like Ian Fleming . Ashenden; or, the British Agent, by W. Somerset Maugham is not the first secret agent novel in English. Joseph Conrad’s The Secret Agent.

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Neither in his manner nor in his speech was there asyenden indication that he had drunk during the evening anything but lemonade. We follow him through France, Switzerland, Italy and Russia, as he uncovers spy networks, accompanies agents to intercept certain documents, tries to trap Indian nationalists and is bored to death by an American businessman on the Trans-Siberian express.

It help here to know what contemporary readers did not – that he was gay. The shops were closed and Ashenden ashhenden only an occasional pedestrian who sidled along, scrunched up, ashhenden though he fled from the blind wrath of the unknown. The work of an agent in the Intelligence Department is on the whole extremely monotonous. And now as he carefully put one foot into the bath, wondering if he could bear it, he asked himself what Bernard had in the end decided on.

Unfortunately the collection is unevenly written, sometimes brilliant but sometimes boring, and there’s a lot of humour along the way which just isn’t funny – to britisu, anyway. But when we finished dinner she rose from her seat and bade me good night. They typically express the emotional toll the colonists bear by their isolation. Each side looks for the tiniest advantage over the other.

Anyhow I cannot send all over Geneva to find him.

This Week’s Must Read: ‘Ashenden,’ by Somerset Maugham : NPR

I consider it the first true spy novel. The story in the former was “The Traitor” actually comprising two stories from Ashenden: It did not matter whether what he said was true or not, for those sonorous phrases of his were fruity with the rich-distilled perfumes of romance. Accessed 23 November But nothing is so foolish as to ascribe profundity to what on the surface is merely inept; it is a pitfall into which many an ingenuous reviewer has fallen headlong.


Book Glutton 7 March at He stopped to ask the porter if there were letters for him. Dec 09, Junaid Taj rated it it was ok. Ashenden could see that Bernard, however big a ruffian, was a reliable agent, and he made up his mind to suggest to R. This particular tale drags a bit and is conventional in precisely the way that Maugham through Ashenden appears to mock earlier in the book but the sentiment within it is undeniably real.

The tiny frail body was suddenly convulsed and that old woman, as though by a final desperate effort of will, raised herself up in the bed. He only just escaped a squint. Why is it that I’m drawn to the most mundane spy stories possible? He suggests that, as Ashenden speaks seve This fascinating, and delightful, book is often regarded as the first spy story and a precursor to Smiley and James Bond. Maugham has the ability to make a despicable person interesting, intriguing and kind of fun.

They were short and stout, with fine black eyes and heavy sallow faces; and they were dressed with a rich loudness that suggested the Fish-market at Cairo rather than the Rue de la Paix.

She was notwithstanding agfnt showy that but for R. All Churchill would have had to was mention their impropriety.

Harrington, the forthright and foolhardy American seeking business contacts within the new revolutionary Russian government. Atent it is a success he accepts it as true. Working in a library does have its occasional perks: The windows were closed and the curtains drawn. I did what any man would do under the circumstances, but I regret that necessity forced upon me an action that I would willingly have avoided.

His self-satisfaction was enormous but so ingenuous that you could not resent it; his conceit was so childlike that you could only smile at it. Fact is a poor story-teller.

I am afraid I could not travel in that. Since she had so many advantages for espionage, it was fairly safe to suppose that an alert secret service had enlisted her services and Ashenden took it for granted that she was engaged somehow on the same kind of work as himself. He was afraid Bernard would think the inquiry an attempt to laugh at him. bgitish


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It might be that some new plan was in ashfnden, it might be that the very greatest affairs were afoot, and perhaps what the old woman had to say might make all the difference in the world. She never spoke anything but French. Fasolt handed back the ashendeh to Fafner, who tapped it reflectively with a thick forefinger. The blind soldier, a big, vigorous fellow, was quite young. Anyhow the detective evidently came to the conclusion that he could learn nothing more from talking to Ashenden, for his remarks grew now desultory and in a few minutes he rose to go.

Of course if brirish had been possible I would have sent for an ambulance and had her taken to the hospital, but the doctor said she might die before we got her downstairs and absolutely refused to let me.

It was not his practice, however, to let that may stories accumulate without offering them for magazine publication and one can only wonder at this uncharacteristic destruction of salable material.

He suggests that, as Ashenden speaks several Ashendem languages and his profession is a perfect cover, he joins the intelligence agency. His cover – as a writer – was perfect and resulted some years later in this marvelous “memoir,” also published as Vol 3 of his Collected Stories. I was madly in love with her. She was not very young and she was thinner than I like a woman to be, but she was possible, and she helped me to pass an agreeable hour.