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.

Give Feedback
Topics
Table of Contents

    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.

    Give Feedback
    How do we create content on this page?
    More knowledge in less time
    Read or listen
    Read or listen
    Get the key ideas from nonfiction bestsellers in minutes, not hours.
    Find your next read
    Find your next read
    Get book lists curated by experts and personalized recommendations.
    Shortcasts
    Shortcasts New
    We’ve teamed up with podcast creators to bring you key insights from podcasts.

    What is The Moon and Sixpence about?

    'The Moon and Sixpence' is a captivating novel by W. Somerset Maugham that delves into the life of Charles Strickland, a renowned painter. Inspired by the life of Paul Gauguin, this book paints a vivid picture of the artist's journey of self-discovery and his relentless pursuit of artistic passion, even at the expense of love and conventional societal expectations.

    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 an English author and playwright who had a prolific career spanning over six decades. He is best known for his novel Of Human Bondage and his short stories, which were characterized by their acute observations of human nature and exploration of social issues. Maugham was also a successful dramatist, with plays such as The Letter achieving great acclaim. His works continue to be widely read and studied to this day.

    Categories with The Moon and Sixpence

    People ❤️ Blinkist 
    Sven O.

    It's highly addictive to get core insights on personally relevant topics without repetition or triviality. Added to that the apps ability to suggest kindred interests opens up a foundation of knowledge.

    Thi Viet Quynh N.

    Great app. Good selection of book summaries you can read or listen to while commuting. Instead of scrolling through your social media news feed, this is a much better way to spend your spare time in my opinion.

    Jonathan A.

    Life changing. The concept of being able to grasp a book's main point in such a short time truly opens multiple opportunities to grow every area of your life at a faster rate.

    Renee D.

    Great app. Addicting. Perfect for wait times, morning coffee, evening before bed. Extremely well written, thorough, easy to use.

    4.7 Stars
    Average ratings on iOS and Google Play
    29 Million
    Downloads on all platforms
    10+ years
    Experience igniting personal growth
    Powerful ideas from top nonfiction

    Try Blinkist to get the key ideas from 7,000+ bestselling nonfiction titles and podcasts. Listen or read in just 15 minutes.

    Start your free trial