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Liza of Lambeth

Liza of Lambeth

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Liza of Lambeth

3/5 (10 оценки)
140 страниц
2 часа
4 дек. 2017 г.


Maugham's first published novel - a vividly realistic portrayal of slum life. Down among the drab slums of Lambeth, eighteen-year-old Liza is the darling of Vere Street. Vibrant and bewitching, she has found an adoring if conventional beau in Tom. When she meets Jim Blakeston, a married man new to the area, she is immediately magnetized by his attentions. But the streets are wise to their illicit, passionate affair and before long the secret is out.
4 дек. 2017 г.

Об авторе

W. Somerset Maugham (1874–1964) was a British novelist, playwright, and short story writer. Maugham studied medicine, later becoming a surgeon. In 1897, he published his first novel, Liza of Lambeth, which became so popular he took up writing full-time. By 1914, Maugham was famous, having published ten novels and produced ten plays. During World War I, he served as an ambulance driver—and occasional spy—and continued to write, publishing the controversial autobiographical novel Of Human Bondage (1915), one of his best-known works.

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Liza of Lambeth - W. Somerset Maugham



W. Somerset Maugham


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Copyright © 2016 by W. Somerset Maugham

Interior design by Pronoun

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IT WAS THE FIRST SATURDAY afternoon in August; it had been broiling hot all day, with a cloudless sky, and the sun had been beating down on the houses, so that the top rooms were like ovens; but now with the approach of evening it was cooler, and everyone in Vere Street was out of doors.

Vere street, Lambeth, is a short, straight street leading out of the Westminster Bridge Road; it has forty houses on one side and forty houses on the other, and these eighty houses are very much more like one another than ever peas are like peas, or young ladies like young ladies. They are newish, three-storied buildings of dingy grey brick with slate roofs, and they are perfectly flat, without a bow-window or even a projecting cornice or window-sill to break the straightness of the line from one end of the street to the other.

This Saturday afternoon the street was full of life; no traffic came down Vere Street, and the cemented space between the pavements was given up to children. Several games of cricket were being played by wildly excited boys, using coats for wickets, an old tennis-ball or a bundle of rags tied together for a ball, and, generally, an old broomstick for bat. The wicket was so large and the bat so small that the man in was always getting bowled, when heated quarrels would arise, the batter absolutely refusing to go out and the bowler absolutely insisting on going in. The girls were more peaceable; they were chiefly employed in skipping, and only abused one another mildly when the rope was not properly turned or the skipper did not jump sufficiently high. Worst off of all were the very young children, for there had been no rain for weeks, and the street was as dry and clean as a covered court, and, in the lack of mud to wallow in, they sat about the road, disconsolate as poets. The number of babies was prodigious; they sprawled about everywhere, on the pavement, round the doors, and about their mothers’ skirts. The grown-ups were gathered round the open doors; there were usually two women squatting on the doorstep, and two or three more seated on either side on chairs; they were invariably nursing babies, and most of them showed clear signs that the present object of the maternal care would be soon ousted by a new arrival. Men were less numerous but such as there were leant against the walls, smoking, or sat on the sills of the ground-floor windows. It was the dead season in Vere Street as much as in Belgravia, and really if it had not been for babies just come or just about to come, and an opportune murder in a neighbouring doss-house, there would have been nothing whatever to talk about. As it was, the little groups talked quietly, discussing the atrocity or the merits of the local midwives, comparing the circumstances of their various confinements.

‘You’ll be ‘avin’ your little trouble soon, eh, Polly?’ asked one good lady of another.

‘Oh, I reckon I’ve got another two months ter go yet,’ answered Polly.

‘Well,’ said a third. ‘I wouldn’t ‘ave thought you’d go so long by the look of yer!’

‘I ‘ope you’ll have it easier this time, my dear,’ said a very stout old person, a woman of great importance.

‘She said she wasn’t goin’ to ‘ave no more, when the last one come.’ This remark came from Polly’s husband.

‘Ah,’ said the stout old lady, who was in the business, and boasted vast experience. ‘That’s wot they all says; but, Lor’ bless yer, they don’t mean it.’

‘Well, I’ve got three, and I’m not goin’ to ‘ave no more bli’me if I will; ‘tain’t good enough—that’s wot I says.’

‘You’re abaht right there, ole gal,’ said Polly, ‘My word, ‘Arry, if you ‘ave any more I’ll git a divorce, that I will.’

At that moment an organ-grinder turned the corner and came down the street.

‘Good biz; ‘ere’s an organ!’ cried half a dozen people at once.

The organ-man was an Italian, with a shock of black hair and a ferocious moustache. Drawing his organ to a favourable spot, he stopped, released his shoulder from the leather straps by which he dragged it, and cocking his large soft hat on the side of his head, began turning the handle. It was a lively tune, and in less than no time a little crowd had gathered round to listen, chiefly the young men and the maidens, for the married ladies were never in a fit state to dance, and therefore disinclined to trouble themselves to stand round the organ. There was a moment’s hesitation at opening the ball; then one girl said to another:

‘Come on, Florrie, you and me ain’t shy; we’ll begin, and bust it!’

The two girls took hold of one another, one acting gentleman, the other lady; three or four more pairs of girls immediately joined them, and they began a waltz. They held themselves very upright; and with an air of grave dignity which was quite impressive, glided slowly about, making their steps with the utmost precision, bearing themselves with sufficient decorum for a court ball. After a while the men began to itch for a turn, and two of them, taking hold of one another in the most approved fashion, waltzed round the circle with the gravity of judges.

All at once there was a cry: ‘There’s Liza!’ And several members of the group turned and called out: ‘Oo, look at Liza!’

The dancers stopped to see the sight, and the organ-grinder, having come to the end of his tune, ceased turning the handle and looked to see what was the excitement.

‘Oo, Liza!’ they called out. ‘Look at Liza; oo, I sy!’

It was a young girl of about eighteen, with dark eyes, and an enormous fringe, puffed-out and curled and frizzed, covering her whole forehead from side to side, and coming down to meet her eyebrows. She was dressed in brilliant violet, with great lappets of velvet, and she had on her head an enormous black hat covered with feathers.

‘I sy, ain’t she got up dossy?’ called out the groups at the doors, as she passed.

‘Dressed ter death, and kill the fashion; that’s wot I calls it.’

Liza saw what a sensation she was creating; she arched her back and lifted her head, and walked down the street, swaying her body from side to side, and swaggering along as though the whole place belonged to her.

‘’Ave yer bought the street, Bill?’ shouted one youth; and then half a dozen burst forth at once, as if by inspiration:

‘Knocked ‘em in the Old Kent Road!’

It was immediately taken up by a dozen more, and they all yelled it out:

‘Knocked ‘em in the Old Kent Road. Yah, ah, knocked ‘em in the Old Kent Road!’

‘Oo, Liza!’ they shouted; the whole street joined in, and they gave long, shrill, ear-piercing shrieks and strange calls, that rung down the street and echoed back again.

‘Hextra special!’ called out a wag.

‘Oh, Liza! Oo! Ooo!’ yells and whistles, and then it thundered forth again:

‘Knocked ‘em in the Old Kent Road!’

Liza put on the air of a conquering hero, and sauntered on, enchanted at the uproar. She stuck out her elbows and jerked her head on one side, and said to herself as she passed through the bellowing crowd:

‘This is jam!’

‘Knocked ‘em in the Old Kent Road!’

When she came to the group round the barrel-organ, one of the girls cried out to her:

‘Is that yer new dress, Liza?’

‘Well, it don’t look like my old one, do it?’ said Liza.

‘Where did yer git it?’ asked another friend, rather enviously.

‘Picked it up in the street, of course,’ scornfully answered Liza.

‘I believe it’s the same one as I saw in the pawnbroker’s dahn the road,’ said one of the men, to tease her.

‘Thet’s it; but wot was you doin’ in there? Pledgin’ yer shirt, or was it yer trousers?’

‘Yah, I wouldn’t git a second-’and dress at a pawnbroker’s!’

‘Garn!’ said Liza indignantly. ‘I’ll swipe yer over the snitch if yer talk ter me. I got the mayterials in the West Hend, didn’t I? And I ‘ad it mide up by my Court Dressmiker, so you jolly well dry up, old jellybelly.’

‘Garn!’ was the reply.

Liza had been so intent on her new dress and the comment it was exciting that she had not noticed the organ.

‘Oo, I say, let’s ‘ave some dancin’,’ she said as soon as she saw it. ‘Come on, Sally,’ she added, to one of the girls, ‘you an’ me’ll dance togither. Grind away, old cock!’

The man turned on a new tune, and the organ began to play the Intermezzo from the ‘Cavalleria’; other couples quickly followed Liza’s example, and they began to waltz round with the same solemnity as before; but Liza outdid them all; if the others were as stately as queens, she was as stately as an empress; the gravity and dignity with which she waltzed were something appalling, you felt that the minuet was a frolic in comparison; it would have been a fitting measure to tread round the grave of a première danseuse, or at the funeral of a professional humorist. And the graces she put on, the languor of the eyes, the contemptuous curl of the lips, the exquisite turn of the hand, the dainty arching of the foot! You felt there could be no questioning her right to the tyranny of Vere Street.

Suddenly she stopped short, and disengaged herself from her companion.

‘Oh, I sy,’ she said, ‘this is too bloomin’ slow; it gives me the sick.’

That is not precisely what she said, but it is impossible always to give the exact unexpurgated words of Liza and the other personages of the story, the reader is therefore entreated with his thoughts to piece out the necessary imperfections of the dialogue.

‘It’s too bloomin’ slow,’ she said again; ‘it gives me

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  • (3/5)
    This was Somerset Maugham's first novel. It gives a good picture of working class life in late 19th century England. The novel covers 4 months in the love life of Liza, an 18 year old girl living with her near invalid mother. It's certainly not very complimentary of men during this time. There is only one man, who is portrayed as a sympathetic character. It was an interesting read, but rather depressing as well.
  • (3/5)
    Classic tragic tale of a good girl gone bad and the sorrow that ensues. I read it now as we prepare for an upcoming trip to London (and it showed up in a "London in fiction" list), and because I've liked other Maugham books (and may check out the new biography). Worth reading.
  • (5/5)
    I really loved this book, I discovered while in England, and recall sitting in a lounge chair thoroughly engrossed and wondering what her end would be. Dickens seems to be the gold standard for slum life and its miseries, but this book, The Nether World and Child of the Jago, leave him in the dust. These 3 will break your heart in two.
  • (4/5)
    First novels are always a little bit tricky, especially when we've since come to know and love an author for his later work. Anyone who's read 'The Torrents of Spring,' Hemingway's first, will agree that what follows doesn't always bear a great relation to what started an author going.My favourite Maugham novels were all written about a dozen years or more after this one, but that isn't to say that 'Liza of Lambeth' isn't without its charms. Maugham writes his characters' dialogue in an accurately colloquial way, though this takes some getting used to as is it did with Shaw. The setting is magnificently presented, and the reader certainly gets the feel for the locale very quickly.The plot, such as it is in this, surely one of Maugham's shortest full pieces, is a curio I suppose, a look at the tragic consequences a woman meets with when she decides to pursue love and happiness over shelter and comfort, in a time when most women didn't have that luxury. I think this is one of those books I'm going to have to dwell on before I can say honestly just how well I liked it. I'm glad that Maugham doesn't begin to sentimentalise and cheapen poverty by dressing it up as more than it is; in fact, he does an excellent job of portraying the brutality of living hand to mouth at the turn of the last century. The final pages cut the deepest, as Liza is all but forgotten by those around her, and cunningly her author too - the ending is very well crafted.
  • (2/5)
    Liza of Lambeth was Maugham's first published novel, and it shows. Some of his future strengths are hinted at here: the dialogue is earthy and believable (though his insistence on spelling out the dialect phonetically becomes tedious, almost like listening to a "book on CD" narrated by Eliza Doolittle), and he already shows flashes of his greatest talent, that of conveying human emotion in a raw and irresistible manner.

    However, where later Maugham books such as Moon and Sixpence and Cakes and Ale shine a cynical, but ultimately accepting (and even affectionate) eye on people from all walks of life, Liza of Lambeth looks down its nose at the lower-class people whose dialect it reproduces so faithfully. Maugham was inspired to write this book by the poor people he met while working in a hospital, and it's clearly the work of a young, bourgeois writer who thought himself a cut above the hard-drinking, wife-beating factory workers in his story. This same class of people would receive far more charitable treatments in the form of the Athelnys in Of Human Bondage and Rosie in Cakes and Ale.

    Ultimately, it's hard for me to recommend this book to anyone unless they've already read at least four or five other Maugham books. One of Somerset Maugham's greatest strengths was his worldliness; he became a writer who presented his characters without prejudice, and allowed readers to judge them based on their actions. That worldly, nonjudgmental voice is completely absent here. Liza has a few glimpses of Maugham's future genius, but his voice and point of view were hard to swallow.
  • (2/5)
    Liza of Lambeth is absolutely not the book to taste Maugham's writing. I understand that this was his first book and that is probably the reason I picked it up and I usually like to disprove writer's 'best sellers'. Well, I was wrong. Liza is charming, some of her attributes are endearing, like her engaging with the children of the street,
  • (2/5)
    One of Maugham's earliest, but not best.
  • (3/5)
    Liza of Lambeth, Somerset Maugham debut novel is a bit of a pot boiler, however, it is interesting to readers of the author's work as, in essence, in already contains the theme of his opus magnum of human bondage.This short novel tells the story of Liza in a melodramatic way. Set in a poor part of London, Liza and her friends and relatives belong to the working class, living in poverty and raising large families. Although Liza has a quick flirt with Tom, she is much more attracted to Jim, who seduces her are involves her in an adulturous relationship. The growing jealousie of Jim's wife frightens Liza, but Jim's confidence gives her a false sense of security. However, Jim's wife confronts Liza, shaming her in public. Despite everything, Tom still loves Liza, but Liza feels she is doomed, as she is pregnant with Jim's child. Jim turns on his wife, beating her, which frightens Liza even more, although wife beatings are shown to be a common occurrance in the novel. In the end, Liza dies after a miscarriage.Liza of Lambeth is a melodramatic portrayal of life in poverty-stricken London at the beginning of the Twentieth Century. In the working class milieu of the novel, the men are mainly portrayed as brutes, while the women are passive and frail, and subjected to their passions. The novel is clearly related to the atmosphere in the plays of George Bernard Shaw and the naturalist novel on the continent, such as Zola.The novel is deterministic in the sense that it suggests that the women have no choice. Liza is driven to her doom following her passion for Jim, and shame seems to keep her from reaching out to Tom, whose helping hand is streched out no matter what happens. Jim's wife holds on to her husband despite his adulterous behaviour and beating her. The novel seems to suggest that her loyalty to her husband is more than matrimonial duty, and that despite all, she probably still loves him.Although the novel displays interesting aspects, particularly in relation to later work by the author, the reading of Liza of Lambeth is not immediately rewarding. The pervasive Cockney accent makes the novel a bit difficult to read.
  • (4/5)
    In seinem Erstlingsroman beschreibt W. Somerset Maugham die verbotene Liebesbeziehung der 19-jährigen Liza Kemp zu einem verheirateten, viel älteren Mann.Der Autor versetzt den Leser dabei anhand von lebhaften Beschreibungen des Alttagslebens ins Lambeth des ausklingenden 19. Jahrhunderts, einem verslumten Londoner Arbeiterbezirk. Im Mittelpunkt des Romans steht aber nicht der Pauperismus der Arbeiterschaft, W.Somerset Maugham widmet sich anderen Themen, wie zum Beispiel häuslicher Gewalt und Alkoholismus.
  • (3/5)
    Maugham's early novel is Victorian slum fiction, and a great hit in its day (although it's difficult to see why now). It was presumably considered sensational for not shying away from the brutal unpleasantness of working class life - car crash literature, if you will. Liza is a gay young woman of the working class, who lives on Vere Street with her self-absorbed drunk mother, an assortment of cheerful children, and various hard-drinking men and endlessly-pregnant or bruised wives who claim their husbands are gentle when they haven't been drinking. The novel charts Liza's downfall from the well-loved young woman out-dancing the street in her new purple dress to fallen woman and social outcast pushed into a public fistfight with her rival for the amusement of her neighbours. Liza is a difficult heroine to root for, being self-absorbed and hard-hearted; the only likeable character, Tom, is perceived as weak or wet and is rejected repeatedly. Although the narrator never overtly comments on Liza's choices, it's difficult not to read the novel as a cautionary tale. That said, it's even-handed in its disdain for slum life as the men - Tom excepted - are all drunks, braggarts and wife beaters.Apparently based on Maugham's experiences as a doctor at St Thomas's, many elements now feel like cliches and his attempt to try and render local dialect does the novel and the characters no favours. It's not terrible, but I have to label it interesting rather than enjoyable.