The Moon and Sixpence Book Summary - The Moon and Sixpence Book explained in key points

The Moon and Sixpence summary

W. Somerset Maugham

Brief summary

The Moon and Sixpence by W. Somerset Maugham is a fictional account inspired by the life of artist Paul Gauguin. It delves into the transformative power of art and the sacrifices artists make in pursuit of their passion.

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    The Moon and Sixpence
    Summary of key ideas

    The Artistic Pursuit and the Price

    In The Moon and Sixpence, W. Somerset Maugham takes us into the life of Charles Strickland, an ordinary London stockbroker who abandons his wife and children abruptly to pursue his hidden passion — painting in Paris. This shocking transformation from a family man to a dedicated artist evokes shock and horror in society, evidencing the price one pays for following their true calling.

    However, Strickland remains focused on his art, indifferent to the opinion and scorn of others. His interaction with the novel's narrator - an aspiring writer who tries to understand Strickland's extraordinary metamorphosis - further emphasizes his total dedication to his work. Counter to the prevailing norms of society, Strickland's satisfaction derives not from societal acceptance but the purity of his art.

    Art and Sacrifice

    Strickland's journey takes a turn in Paris when he falls in love with Blanche Stroeve, the wife of his friend Dirk, who had taken him in during a time of need. The passion of his love mirrors the intensity of his art, as he gives himself to it without a second thought. Eventually, this obsessive love results in a tragic end for Blanche, further highlighting the destructive path taken by Strickland — a path he's willing to tread for the pursuit of his art.

    Despite the tragedies, Strickland continues to live a life of utter simplicity in Paris. In the pursuit of his art, he chooses to live hand-to-mouth, unperturbed by the financial instabilities or the hardships of life. This aspect encapsulates his utter devotion to his art at the expense of worldly matters.

    Final Years in Tahiti

    The later part of Strickland’s life happens in Tahiti, where he is given a new chance at life. He finds love with a native woman, Ata, and finally finds an audience that appreciates his work. His paintings start getting the recognition they deserve and his life takes on a semblance of stability.

    In this period, he paints his masterpiece, indicative of his changing perspectives. However, at the height of his career, Strickland falls ill and dies, leaving behind a conflicted legacy.

    Legacy and Concluding Thoughts

    Upon Strickland's death, people debate about his character. Some see him as invaluable because of his extraordinary paintings, while others, like the narrator, can't forgive him for his disregard of people. Yet, even the narrator cannot deny the power of Strickland’s art.

    In conclusion, The Moon and Sixpence challenges us to reflect on the price of unyielding dedication to one's passion. Strickland's life may be riddled with controversy, but the sheer brilliance of his paintings elevates him towards the likes of renowned artists. However, for us, the readers, Maugham leaves the decision on Strickland's morality to our discretion.

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    What is The Moon and Sixpence about?

    The Moon and Sixpence is a novel that tells the story of Charles Strickland, a middle-aged stockbroker who abandons his family and comfortable life in London to pursue his passion for painting in Paris. Inspired by the life of artist Paul Gauguin, the book explores themes of artistic obsession, societal expectations, and the pursuit of one's true calling. It delves into the complexities of human nature and the sacrifices one is willing to make in the name of art.

    The Moon and Sixpence Review

    The Moon and Sixpence (1919) is a captivating novel that explores the extraordinary life of an unconventional artist. Here's why this book is worth reading:

    • Delving into the pursuit of passion and the sacrifices one is willing to make for their art, this book provides a thought-provoking exploration of the human spirit.
    • Through the main character's journey of self-discovery, the book offers a profound reflection on the conflict between societal expectations and personal fulfillment.
    • With its vivid portrayal of exotic settings and complex characters, the book transports readers to a world filled with beauty, passion, and self-exploration, keeping them engaged from start to finish.

    Who should read The Moon and Sixpence?

    • Readers curious about the pursuit of art and the sacrifices made in its pursuit
    • Individuals interested in exploring the complexities of human nature and the choices we make
    • Those who enjoy thought-provoking and introspective literature that challenges societal norms

    About the Author

    W. Somerset Maugham was a British playwright and novelist. He is best known for his novel "Of Human Bondage" and his play "The Constant Wife." Maugham's works often explore themes of human nature and the complexities of relationships. "The Moon and Sixpence" is one of his most famous novels, inspired by the life of the artist Paul Gauguin. Maugham's writing style is characterized by its clarity and insight into the human condition.

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    The Moon and Sixpence FAQs 

    What is the main message of The Moon and Sixpence?

    The main message of The Moon and Sixpence is an exploration of the conflict between artistic pursuit and societal expectations.

    How long does it take to read The Moon and Sixpence?

    The reading time for The Moon and Sixpence varies based on reading speed, but it typically takes several hours. The Blinkist summary can be read in just 15 minutes.

    Is The Moon and Sixpence a good book? Is it worth reading?

    The Moon and Sixpence is worth reading for its insightful exploration of artistic passion and societal norms.

    Who is the author of The Moon and Sixpence?

    The author of The Moon and Sixpence is W. Somerset Maugham.

    What to read after The Moon and Sixpence?

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