A short novel that is both disturbing and arresting at the same time. The story is not so much a look at the life of an artist as it is an utter and horrific account of the darkest demons in the human condition that sometimes drive us to the depths of depravity. All in the name of art.
Based on the real life story of Paul Gaugin, the story is an absolutely riveting one that explores the making of an artist. And yet, it is one of the minor characters in the novel, Dirk Stroeve who fascinates me no end. What manner of man is this who turns the other cheek time and time again, and is willing to bless those who might curse you? This bumbling buffon of a man shows such unbelievably sublime human qualities in his ordinary life that the person of Christ comes to mind as the only other godman who might be alike in that respect.
Maugham was a master with words, and this is one of his small fine gems.