Somerset

Standard

So I’m still reading through Poetry and came upon this quote by James Laughlin: “Do not become a cheap writer…Keep up your standards…It is better to be read by 800 readers and be a good writer than be read by all the world and be Somerset Maugham.” Sounds as if he didn’t have a very high opinion of him. But I have to confess to not being very familiar with Mr. Maugham’s work (though with a first name like Somerset it’s easy to remember his name), so I Googled him and did some reading about his life. Then I read: “Maugham died in Nice on December 16, 1965. It is said that as he lay dying he asked Sir Alfred Ayer to visit him and reassure him that there was no life after death.”

It’s been said that when we die we “step into eternity.” I believe we already hold it in our hearts. In any event, I should like to know what Sir Alfred Ayer said.

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