Back Cover Blurb
- The third volume of Somerset Maugham's Collected Short Stories, introduced by the author, contains the celebrated series about Ashenden, a secret service agent in World War I.
- Based on Maugham's own experiences with the British Intelligence service in Switzerland, the stories are vignettes in which he dramatises both the romance and absurdity of espionage as well as its ruthlessness and brutality.
- Accountable only to 'R', Ashenden travels all over the Continent on assignments which entangle him with such characters as the traitor Grantley Caypor, the passionate Guilia Lazzari, and the sinister 'hairless Mexican'.
Preface (Full Text)
- In this, the third volume of my collected stories, I have made a somewhat different arrangement from that which I have made in the others. In those I put the stories I wrote in which the scene was laid in Malaya. These are so long that I thought it would give the reader a rest if I interspersed them with short ones set in other parts of the world, so I divided them in each volume into groups.
- But I wrote a batch of stories dealing with the adventures of an agent in the Intelligence Department during the First World War. I gave him the name of Ashenden. Since they are connected by this character of my invention I have thought it well, notwithstanding their great length, to put them all together. They are founded on experiences of my own during that war, but I should like to impress upon the reader that they are not what the French call reportage, but works of fiction.
- Fact, as I said in the preface to the volume in which these stories appeared, is a poor story-teller. It starts a story at haphazard long before the beginning, rambles on inconsequently, and tails off, leaving loose ends hanging about, without a conclusion.
- The work of an agent in the Intelligence Department is on the whole monotonous. A lot of it is uncommonly useless. The material it offers for stories is scrappy and pointless; the author has himself to make it coherent, dramatic and probable. That is what I have tried to do in this particular series.
Preface – vii
- Miss King – 1
- The Hairless Mexican – 40
- Giulia Lazzari – 83
- The Traitor – 126
- His Excellency – 168
- Mr Harrington's washing – 206
- Sanatorium – 252
Vintage Classics; New Edition (7 Feb. 2002)
Text Colour Conventions (see disclaimer)
- Blue: Text by me; © Theo Todman, 2020
- Mauve: Text by correspondent(s) or other author(s); © the author(s)