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The Hero

W. Somerset Maugham

Book Overview: 

James Parsons comes home to Little Primpton after serving in the Boer War. The whole town is proud of their new hero, who was awarded the Victoria Cross for risking his life to save a fellow soldier. However, for Jamie, nothing is the same anymore. His varied experience after leaving home has changed his worldview completely and he finds it impossible to go back to his former way of life and beliefs. Torn between individual freedom and obligations towards his family, Maugham portrays Jamie's struggles and social intolerance

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Book Excerpt: 
. . .e raised above his head his large, white clerical hand, stretching out the index-finger, and began to beat time. He bellowed aloud, and the choir, a bar or so late, followed lustily. The band joined in with a hearty braying of trumpets.

"See, the conquering Hero comes,
Sound the trumpets; beat the drums."

But growing excited at the music issuing from his throat, the curate raised the other hand which held his soft felt hat, and beat time energetically with that also.

At the end of the verse the performers took a rapid breath, as though afraid of being left behind, and then galloped on, a little less evenly, until one by one they reached the highly-decorated Amen.

When the last note of the last cornet had died away on the startled air, Mr. Dryland made a sign to the head boy of the school, who thereupon advanced and waved his cap, shouting:

"Three cheers for Capting Parsons, V.C.!"

Then t. . . Read More

Community Reviews

Whoever said ‘the mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation’[1] could have been referring to much of W. Somerset Maugham’s work. No author of his era drilled down so relentlessly into the anguish people suffer trying to lead acceptable lives while still hoping to find a scrap of love amidst societ

There's something about the prose of Somerset Maugham - it's so simple, no excess verbosity whatsoever, and yet it is so beautifully crafted that it's always a delight to read. I loved this book - the content of the tale is utterly tragic: that of the soldier returned injured from war to find everyt

Before I started this, I mistakenly thought it was an historical novel, which was never Maugham's strong suit (Catalina comes to mind). Thankfully, I was wrong. I mean, it's period now, but not then.

James "Jamie" Parsons has come home to his quiet, provincial British home after being in Africa five

Solidly good, solidly great when it comes down to some of Jamie’s ideas (on wars, on reason). An early sign of Maugham’s strengths, “The last thing I expect is consistency in an animal of such contrary instincts as man.” Not without great cheekiness, either. Plus: the hero’s name is Jamie. Will neve

"He was a war hero because he was captured. I like people who weren't captured" - D. J. Trump. In the specific, this comment was intended to degrade and insult, but in the abstract, it makes a point. After all, heroism is ethereal. For it to exist at least two people, and oftentimes more, need to ac

As many others have said, this is an excellent work.

I do have one problem, however.

Because of the passage of time since it was set/written, I'm not 100% sure I understand what WSM was trying to get at with the ending (after the hero shot himself).

In order to tie things up he uses one of the characte

I remain amazed at how each generation seems to, in some fashion or other, with slight tweaks and customizations, repeat the human, relational, and social faux pas of our forebears. I am ever grateful to one of my first Goodreads Friends for recommending this "has no business not being much more wid

This is a beautifully written piece of ridicule, mocking the so-called manners of early 20th century Englanders. The main character returns from war to his hometown of Little Primpton, perfectly named, and is described in countless variations of the word “grave” as he re-enters the heritage he inher

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