THE LOTUS EATER BY SOMERSET MAUGHAM PDF

They are like train-cars travelling forever on the selfsame rails. They go backwards and forwards, backwards and forwards, inevitably, till they can go no longer and then are sold as scrap-iron. It is not often that you find a man who has boldly taken the course of his life into his own hands. When you do, it is worth while having a good look at him.

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For the film, see The Lotus Eater film. Somerset Maugham in and loosely based on the life story of John Ellingham Brooks. It was included in the collection of Maugham stories The Mixture as Before. The friend introduces the narrator to Thomas Wilson, who had come to the island for a holiday sixteen years earlier. A year after that holiday, Wilson had given up his job in London as a bank manager to live a life of simplicity and enjoyment in a small cottage on Capri.

Enchanted by the island during his visit, he had made the decision during the intervening year to forgo working another twelve or thirteen years for his pension and instead to take his accumulated savings and purchase at once an annuity that would allow him to live simply on Capri for twenty-five years. And what will happen at the end of that twenty-five years, fifteen of which have already passed, asks the narrator; many men die by sixty, but many do not.

Wilson does not directly answer the question, but he implies that if nature does not carry him off by the age of sixty, he will be content to dispatch himself, having lived a life of his own choosing in the meantime. The narrator of the story is stunned by such a bold plan, all the more because Wilson has the appearance and manner of an unremarkable, ordinary man — very much that of the bank manager he once was.

The narrator soon leaves Capri, and, what with the intervening world war and other events, nearly forgets his acquaintance with Wilson until thirteen years later, when he revisits his friend on Capri. His friend describes for the narrator what has happened in his absence. Wilson, his annuity exhausted, had first sold all that he owned; then he had relied on his excellent credit to borrow sums of the islanders to sustain himself; but at the end of a year after the expiration of his annuity, he could no longer even borrow.

Wilson then had shut himself in his cottage and lit a charcoal fire to fill the room with carbon monoxide in an attempt to kill himself. But he lacked the will, the narrator says, to make a good-enough job of the attempt, and survived, though with brain damage that left him mentally abnormal but not unbalanced enough for the asylum.

He lives out the remainder of his years in the woodshed of his peasant former landlord, carrying water and feeding the animals. After six years of this existence, he is found dead on the ground overlooking the beautiful Faraglioni coastal stacks that had enticed him to the island so many years before — slain perhaps, the narrator suggests, by their beauty. The narrator had told Wilson shortly after meeting him that his own choice would have been the safe one: to work the additional dozen or more years that would have secured his pension and, thus, a guarantee of enough money to live on, however long that might be, before setting out for his idyll on Capri, even though, as Wilson said, the pleasures of a man in his thirties are different from those of a man in his fifties.

The narrator speculates that Wilson might indeed have had the kind of resolve needed to carry out his decision to end his own life, if necessary, at the time he first enacted his bold plan to leave his workaday life in London for the full-time leisure that, Wilson had argued, is all anyone is working for anyway. But the very ease and indolence of his life on Capri had deprived him of the will he needed to carry out his decision when the time came.

Without challenge, the narrator argues, human will grows flabby, just as muscles used to support one only on level ground will lose the capacity to climb a mountain.

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William Somerset Maugham’s ‘the Lotus Eater’ Essay

I was wrong. Once again, the story chilled me to the bone. The Lotus Eater by Somerset Maugham is a story about the pursuit of happiness. It tells of a man who quits his job, sells all of his possessions, and with a bit of savings decides to move to the island of Capri, Italy, to spend the rest of his life there, living a life of leisure. The I remember reading this in high-school.

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The Lotus Eater by W. Somerset Maugham

For the film, see The Lotus Eater film. Somerset Maugham in and loosely based on the life story of John Ellingham Brooks. It was included in the collection of Maugham stories The Mixture as Before. The friend introduces the narrator to Thomas Wilson, who had come to the island for a holiday sixteen years earlier. A year after that holiday, Wilson had given up his job in London as a bank manager to live a life of simplicity and enjoyment in a small cottage on Capri.

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