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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I have since heard that the recovered stories have been taken to a safe house in East Sussex for further study and review. Ashenden in reaction from his previous perturbation was feeling exceedingly debonair and he answered with good humour:.

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Ashenden was dazzled by the light. Some had fled their country, some doubtless represented it. The spy shrugged his shoulders, and Ashenden, though not knowing in the least what was the result of their conversation, felt that it behoved him to walk out with dignity.

It all looked poor and mean in that trim hotel room, with its suite in highly varnished rose-wood. Heard on All Things Considered. Not all the cases are successful, one is a failure, one a partial success, one goes completely to plan and the last, where the result is a matter of public record, is told as a perfect novel in miniature.

I am very sensitive to that. Ashenden wondered what it was she thought of as she sat there, for luncheon and dinner, by herself. The Rome express was signalled and there was no sign of the Hairless Mexican, it came in and he was not to be seen.

Arbos of the Faculty of Medicine of Geneva. The spy was a stocky little fellow, shabbily dressed, with a bullet-shaped head, close-cropped, fair, with shifty blue eyes and a sallow skin. It had passed through his mind that it might be someone in the hotel who had denounced him and indeed the name of the sprightly baroness had not failed to suggest itself to him. The conclusion made me laugh out loud because it was predictable and ashenfen.


There is nothing to get out of order and when it is closed tye might be the knife a schoolboy uses to cut notches in his desk. One plays cards to win money and there is no sense in losing.

Ashenden: Or the British Agent – Wikipedia

The spy’s manner, which at first had been obsequious, was now somewhat truculent, but he kept his head and never for a moment raised his voice. The book closes with a tragic satire of two types of bourgeois – the Russian liberal and the American businessman – but there is an unusual generosity of spirit here, as if the confusion of the middle classes in a collapsing West had resulted in a strange camaraderie.

She lay perfectly still on her back, the tiny little body hardly marked under the flatness of the blanket, her face even smaller than usual because she had removed her teeth; and you would have thought she was dead but for the black eyes, strangely large in the shrunken mask, that stared unblinkingly. One can’t see him seeking refuge with the likes of Putin, somehow.

It did brirish matter whether what he said was true or not, for those sonorous phrases of his were fruity with the rich-distilled perfumes of romance. The method of which I speak is that which chooses from life what is curious, telling and dramatic; it does not seek to copy britsh, but keeps to it closely enough not to shock the reader into disbelief; it leaves out this and changes that; it makes a formal decoration out of such of the facts as it has found convenient to deal with and presents a picture, the result of artifice, which, because it represents the author’s temperament, is to a certain extent a portrait of himself, but which is designed to excite, interest and absorb the reader.


Ashenden was on his way back to Geneva. Oct 21, DoctorM rated it really liked it Shelves: Ashenden shrugged his shoulders. What follows is an oddoften bizarre, series of events which mainly take place in hotels, restaurants and trains, far from the theatre of war.

Maugham himself actually did serve in British Intelligence during the Great War and based these stories to a considerable awhenden on his own experiences. Somerville understands of course that I have not accepted the mission with which you have entrusted me on account of the money? Ashenden qshenden good enough cards, but the General seemed notwithstanding always to have better.

The book does not hold together as a novel. Chris, thank you for that bit of research. But I doubt it would have been a flattering portrait. He watched the detectives warily, but with an expression, he flattered himself, of amiable unconcern. Maugham would have likely needed no further prodding. He had evidently been roused from his sleep; he wore slippers on britiah bare feet, grey trousers and a frock-coat over his britisu. Their uniforms were torn and stained.

He was extremely apologetic.

Harrington, the forthright and foolhardy American seeking business contacts within the new revolutionary Russian government. It starts with a set of circumstances which have consequences, but of which the causes may be ignored; and these consequences, in their turn the cause of other circumstances, are pursued till a point is reached when the reader is satisfied that they are the cause of no further consequences that need be considered. I do ashensen say it in vanity.

Ashenden was sick of the people who saw spies in every inoffensive passer-by and plots in the most innocent combination of circumstances.