Sunday, January 3, 2010

The Moon and Sixpense


As my husband and I drove home from Vermont, I read a book aloud as he drove, as we often do. It was Somerset Maugham's 'The Moon and Sixpense'. I confess I've never read anything by Maugham until now. The book is a fiction about a man named Charles Strickland, loosely based on the life of Paul Gauguin. Very loosely, actually, as facts and destinations that we know about Gauguin’s life don’t align very well with Strickland’s. It starts slowly and I had difficulty getting into it at first, but with patience I was rewarded with a stunning novel.

Everybody knows the Gauguin who went to Tahiti to paint the natives, but his life leading up to it and the mystery of his life in Tahiti makes for a fascinating read. In Maugham’s fiction, Strickland is not what you would call a friendly chap, but the book slowly draws you in and makes you confront the conventional premise of what society deems ‘nice’ and question what constitutes a meaningful life.

Gauguin, the real artist, was indeed a stockbroker, but he abandoned his career and his wife with five, rather than two, children. He was also less furtive than Strickland in his pursuit of art and who can tell if Gauguin was as callous as we are lead to believe. The man had vision, and he was slave to getting his vision out onto canvas. Who am I to say that making a living versus following one’s genius is morally good or bad? I think we must each decide for ourselves what makes a good life. But it can be said that Strickland, if not the real life artist, was true to himself and his priorities.

This book literally changed my life; the way I see art and one's responsibility to a life's calling.

1 comment:

Suzi@CollierWest said...

Thank you adding us as a link of your favorites. Greatly appreciated. Heading to Paris on Thursday for two fold shopping: Launching a new concept at Collier West in March...exciting new developments, stay tuned. And secondly, I have personally launched a jewellery line. There is a trade and trend show occurring in Europe and I look forward to bringing back new influences in design. So please, keep following!
Have a warm winter and we will see you soon!
Best,
Suzi West

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