The Razor's Edge



The Pequod Review:

It may seem like the Western obsession with Indian spirituality is a more recent trend (or fad, depending on your point of view), but in fact it has much earlier origins — as was apparent from the extraordinary commercial success of W. Somerset Maugham's 1944 novel, The Razor's Edge. The book, which is based on Maugham's own experiences at an Indian ashram in the late 1930s, is about a young American war veteran (Larry Darrell) who abandons a conventionally materialistic life to find wisdom in the East ("I want to make up my mind whether God is or God is not. I want to find out why evil exists. I want to know whether I have an immortal soul or whether when I die it’s the end."). It’s an engaging and well-constructed story, however some of the characters (especially the protagonist Larry) are not very interesting and are often stand-ins for philosophical viewpoints rather than fully realized individuals.