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The Magician

W. Somerset Maugham

Book Overview: 

The Magician is a novel by British author W. Somerset Maugham. In this tale, the magician Oliver Haddo, a caricature of Aleister Crowley, attempts to create life. Crowley wrote a critique of this book under the pen name Oliver Haddo, where he accused Maugham of plagiarism. Maugham wrote The Magician in London, after he had spent some time living in Paris, where he met Aleister Crowley. The novel was later republished with a foreword by Maugham entitled A Fragment of Autobiography.

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Book Excerpt: 
. . ., though less noticeable on account of his obesity, and he towered over the puny multitude.

They looked idly at the various shows, resisting the melodramas, the circuses, the exhibitions of eccentricity, which loudly clamoured for their custom. Presently they came to a man who was cutting silhouettes in black paper, and Haddo insisted on posing for him. A little crowd collected and did not spare their jokes at his singular appearance. He threw himself into his favourite attitude of proud command. Margaret wished to take the opportunity of leaving him, but Miss Boyd insisted on staying.

'He's the most ridiculous creature I've ever seen in my life,' she whispered. 'I wouldn't let him out of my sight for worlds.'

When the silhouette was done, he presented it with a low bow to Margaret.

'I implore your acceptance of the only portrait now in existence of
Oliver Haddo,' he said.

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Community Reviews

The Magician may not be Maugham's most known work, but it's my favourite so far.

Arthur and Margaret are about to marry when the sinister Oliver Haddo comes into their lives. Haddo is known for practising ocultism and to deal with the dark arts. At first, Arthur doesn't take him seriously; when stran

Maugham's novel The Magician is an aesthetic disaster. From the fumbling realism at the beginning of the novel to the childishly Gothic fable that it turns into, the book seems to lack structure, design and well developed characters.
Maugham himself, on reading the book later, described it as “lush

This was a strange and yet entertaining story. This story is not based off traditional witchcraft but gets more into the shadowy and occult black arts.

It started out with ordinary people with ordinary lives for the time period until the mysterious Oliver Haddo comes into their lives. Doctor Arthur

This is a rather strange, but fascinating little book. Despite the short length (196 on my edition) it feels almost like two separate books It starts off as something like a comedy of errors, then slowly becomes more sinister until it becomes a flat out horror novel.

The story focuses on a couple tha

I raced through this. Less from enjoyment and more because I wasn’t in the mood for it, so perhaps it was a case of right book wrong timing.

I’ve enjoyed many other books by WSM, but this one felt overly melodramatic.

The drift into gothic horror in the last section felt incongruous.

I was hoping fo

First published in 1908, this was W. Somerset Maugham’s last novel for seven years, as he devoted himself to writing for the theatre. The rest obviously did him good, as he returned with the classic, “Of Human Bondage,” but this is an interesting, and lesser known, novel. It was inspired by meeting

This reads as a Gothic horror story, and it grabbed me--which is totally amazing! Books of this genre are not ones that normally attract me. I do not regret reading it. Proof is in the fact that the last three hours of it I spent glued to my seat. If Gothic horror stories are your cup of tea, grab i

Arthur Burdon is due to marry his fiance, Margaret Dauncey. The pair have the misfortune of meeting Oliver Haddo, a self-styled magician and pompous ass. When Arthur assaults Haddo, the Magician hatches a plan to ruin Arthur's life in the most insidious of ways...

The Magician is a tale of revenge, s

The Magician has so many of those elements that send my little dark-fiction reader heart racing, among them pulpy mysterious melodrama, a bit of decadence, and of course the dark forces of the occult and the supernatural. At its heart though, it is a story of revenge plotted by a most sinister villa

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