Title: Ashenden: or, The British Agent Author: Maugham, W. Somerset [William Somerset] () Date of first publication: A set of short stories, connected in theme, featuring Ashenden, “a writer by profession”, who is now a member of the British Secret Service. Like Ian Fleming . Ashenden; or, the British Agent, by W. Somerset Maugham is not the first secret agent novel in English. Joseph Conrad’s The Secret Agent.

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Ashenden by W. Somerset Maugham

He turned on the water for his bath, as hot as he thought he could possibly bear it, and as he undressed reflected comfortably over his escape. It looked very like a trap. In fact the universe conspired to make him miss every train he wanted to take and he was not happy unless he was settled in his corner, his things on the rack above him, with a good half-hour to spare. But Ashenden was surprised to catch sight of Count von Holzminden and wondered what on earth he was doing there.

She always insisted on talking French. It was done so discreetly that he could not be quite sure, but he had a feeling that a suggestion floated in the air that a clever writer could do his country a good turn and make a vast amount of money for himself if he cared to enter into an arrangement that would bring to a troubled world the peace that every humane man must so sincerely desire.

The final episode — which gives the context to this reaction — closes with a return to this “future” setting. There were from twenty to thirty. Maugham was one of the most significant travel writers of the inter-war years, and can be compared with contemporaries such as Evelyn Waugh and Freya Stark.


She held me to my word.

Manray9 Childers’ “The Riddle of the Sands” precedes the others mentioned by quite a few years. It was ridiculous to suppose that those brltish cordial stout Egyptian gentlemen were laying some sort of trap for him, but in the work upon which Ashenden was engaged the dullness of routine was apt now and again to slip quite shamelessly into the melodrama of the ‘sixties. Either somebody’s being overly cautious and bureaucratic which is not that hard to believe of ‘intelligence’ in this day and age or else Maugham may have been overly modest about his contribution to the service.

Her face was greasy still with the cream she had used before going to bed to remove her make-up, but she had removed it summarily and there were streaks of black on her eyebrows and of red on her cheeks.

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It works up to an interesting situation, and then leaves it in the air to follow an issue that has nothing to do with the point; it has no sense of climax and whittles away its dramatic effects in irrelevance. She said that the girl was not an inmate, but came there only from time to time and had left.

More racism and sexism in the language here, but not surprising ashendne the time. It gave Ashenden the impression of a room in which the brokers had taken possession. Ashenden went to the market about nine when the housewives of Geneva for the most part had done their provisioning, stopped in front of ashebden basket by the side of which, rain or wind, hot or cold, sat that indomitable creature and bought half a pound of butter.


I wanted to make sure. He felt certain that she had something that she wanted urgently to say to him. It was clear that he had been denounced, but no evidence had been offered, and the search of his rooms had been fruitless.

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Chris 6 March at The Swiss knew well that their country was the scene of all manner of intrigues; agents of the secret service, spies, revolutionaries and agitators infested the hotels of the principal towns and, jealous of their neutrality, they were determined to prevent conduct that might embroil them with any of the belligerent powers. Why did I not take agetn warning?

His hair as a rule plastered neatly on his head stood on end. This book is founded on my experiences in the Intelligence Department during the war, but rearranged for the purposes of fiction. Accessed 23 November The question was put so pleasantly that Ashenden felt it behoved him to be on his guard.

He can be very harsh and sexist at times this book ageng written in the 20s after allbut he values intelligence and has a mature view on beauty.

Ashenden by W. Somerset Maugham, from Project Gutenberg Canada

Necessarily modest, in fact. That is the way to take a loss.

Ashenden was on his way back to Geneva. And if he were arrested as a secret agent he must spend at least the night in a cell. I went to Petrograd from Vladivostock.