Title: Ashenden: or, The British Agent Author: Maugham, W. Somerset [William Somerset] () Date of first publication: A set of short stories, connected in theme, featuring Ashenden, “a writer by profession”, who is now a member of the British Secret Service. Like Ian Fleming . Ashenden; or, the British Agent, by W. Somerset Maugham is not the first secret agent novel in English. Joseph Conrad’s The Secret Agent.

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I think if they had survived in any form, we’d have them by now. Being no more than a tiny rivet in a vast and complicated machine, he never had the advantage of seeing a completed action.

Why did I not take their warning?

I took off the diamond ring I was wearing and told the old woman to give her that and see whether it would induce her to change her mind. She slipped the note into his hand when he was given change for ten francs and he sauntered away. I won’t conceal from you that I should find it extremely disagreeable.

Book Review: Ashenden; or, the British Agent by W. Somerset Maugham

His closed eyes gave him a strangely vacant look. She was a tiny old woman, just a few little bones in a bag of wrinkled skin, and her face was deeply furrowed. You have a very good analogy in painting. It increased if anything the cordiality of his relations with her.

Ashenden went back into the room and immediately the dark eyes of the dying woman fixed upon him. Maugham, who served in the British secret service during World War I, cleverly combines autobiography and satire in these interconnected tales of European espionage. He sent them to Winston Churchill who told him to burn them.

He knew that he was a good player of the second class, but he had played often enough with the best players in the world to know that he was britisn in the same street with them. It was a bold and ingenious scheme and Ashenden felt a pleasant exhilaration for a great deal of his work was uncommonly dull when he heard of it. But when we finished dinner she rose from her seat and bade me good night.


This British Spy Thriller Shows How Thrill-Less Spying Can Be

It was plain that nothing very much would be said that first evening, but Ashenden as evasively as he could, more by general amiability than by words, tried to indicate that he was willing to hear more of the subject. They were cut to a point, stained bright red, and to Ashenden’s mind shone like mirrors. I could have cried for pity for her.

Jan agfnt, Val rated it it was amazing Shelves: He was extremely apologetic.

agennt He is instructed to give you the funds you need for your work, but your actions are your own affair. It is a habit I learned in New York. Find your next great read. And now as he carefully put one foot into the bath, wondering if he could bear it, he asked himself what Bernard had in the end decided on.

Any fool would have known what it meant and I have been using the cards all my life. You are a waiter, you want your freedom of action. He counted them and with his usual neatness put them carefully folded into his pocket-book.

This Week’s Must Read: ‘Ashenden,’ by Somerset Maugham : NPR

She was magnificently gowned, but scantily bejewelled, so that Ashenden, who knew something of these matters, concluded that the superior authority had given her carte blanche at a dressmaker’s but had not thought it prudent or necessary to provide her with rings or pearls. It was done so discreetly that he could not be quite sure, but he had a feeling that a suggestion floated in the air that a clever writer could do his country a good turn and make a vast amount of asehnden for himself if he cared to bitish into an arrangement that would bring to a troubled world the peace that every humane man must so sincerely desire.

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There is a school of novelists that ahent upon this as the proper model for fiction.

I enjoyed it that not all the women were beautiful; rather many of them are interesting – and I think this shows Maugham’s homosexuality in not being able to create a character that has “flings” Virtually ALL of the novellas at one time have appeared since in either films eg: She lay perfectly still hritish her back, the tiny little body hardly marked under the flatness of the blanket, her face even smaller than usual because she had removed her teeth; and you would have thought she was dead but for the black eyes, strangely large in the shrunken mask, that stared unblinkingly.

I was ready to wait. When she caught sight of Ashenden she gave him a furious look and flinging into her room slammed the door. They gaent like to cover the bases. Do you mean to say that life has only just caught up with us?

Ashenden by W. Somerset Maugham

With an angry shrug of the shoulders he put it back in his pocket. When I get back to Mexico and am in possession of my estates again you must come and stay with me. I wouldn’t go out in such weather if I could help it. I do not know the meaning of the word failure. In fact, all this espionage has been a staple in novel and film for the better part of a century.

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