Hard Cover. London: William Heinemann, 1919. 1st Edition. Near Fine.
First edition, first issue, with four pages of ads. Signed and inscribed by the author to the half-title page: "by W. Somerset Maugham / for Robert Partridge / 24 October 1946". Publisher's olive green cloth, lettered and decorated in black, four pages of publisher's advertisements at the rear of the text. A near fine copy, with some wear to the extremities, minor toning to the spine, light toning to pages as usual. Overall, a tight copy of a scarce book, inscribed. Stott A22. The Moon and Sixpence is a novel about the dual blessing and curse of artistic talent, loosely based on the life of French artist Paul Gauguin (1848-1903), an important Post-Impressionist and leader of the Primitivism movement that championed a return to the pastoral. The plot, narrated in first person and told in episodic form, tells the story of Charles Strickland, a middle-aged London stockbroker with a passionate interest in art. Early on, Strickland abruptly leaves his wife and family to move to Paris and pursue a career in art. Driven by a voracious need to express himself artistically, Strickland lives in poverty and sickness, which he seemingly doesn't mind as long as he continues to create artwork, although his work would not be appreciated until after his death. The novel's final episode places the narrator in Tahiti, where Strickland had been living with a young native woman while continuing to produce art. While there are notable differences between Gauguin and Strickland, The Moon and Sixpence provides a unique glimpse into Gauguin's life and inspirations. On a larger note, it presents the consuming struggle of an artist's passion, and the influence of benevolent and evil forces. As Maugham writes, "the adulation of his admirers is perhaps no less capricious than the disparagement of his detractors; but one thing can never be doubtful, and that is he had genius."