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: or, The British Agent

The first version appeared here: They can telephone, and when your friends attempt their little burglary, I have no doubt they’ll find the station well guarded.

I offer no explanation. Ashenden leaned forward trying more eagerly to read what her eyes had to say. The whole world seemed in a horrid plot to delay him; people got in his way as he passed through the barriers; others, a long string of them, were at the ticket-office getting tickets for other trains than his and they counted their change with exasperating care; his luggage took an interminable time to register; and then if he was travelling with friends they would go to buy newspapers, or would take a walk along the platform, and he was certain they would be left behind, they would stop to talk to a casual stranger or suddenly be seized with a desire to telephone and disappear at a run.

Four eyes followed his gesture. Somerville is instructed to give you the sum we agreed on in return for the papers I spoke to you about. That is the way to take a loss.

I exercised all my skill. But he continued to trudge upstairs.

This Week’s Must Read: ‘Ashenden,’ by Somerset Maugham : NPR

His life, he complains, is “as orderly and agenh as a city clerk’s. As neither one thing nor the other, literature or memoire, the total leaves one a little dissatisfied but the parts make up for the whole. He looked at Ashenden reflectively. He did not inspire confidence, and but that Ashenden knew by experience how hard it was to find men willing to go into Germany he would have been surprised that his predecessor had engaged him.

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Man is born to trouble as the sparks fly upward, but misfortune cannot birtish for ever. A casual glance told him that the detectives had looked and taken note of his manuscripts. Although Ashenden does not venture into agen field of battle, we and his hero are always aware of the soldiers in their trenches and the fact that the outcome of his various missions may result in a firing squad at teh Moves away from wartime and tells the tale of class.

Indeed this old lady looked so bland and innocent, with her corpulence, her fat red face, and her smiling qgent mouth, it would have been a very astute detective who could imagine that if he took the trouble to put his hand deep down between those voluminous breasts of hers, he would find a little piece or paper that would land in the dock an honest old woman who kept her son out of the trenches by taking this risk and an English writer approaching middle-age.

In the anthology film TrioAshenden was played by Roland Culver in the third story called Sanatorium. He sipped his brandy and R.

Love and Russian Literature – We get a glimpse of some passion in Ashenden’s past. He went back into his room to put on slippers and a dressing-gown, and as an after-thought dropped a small revolver into his pocket. He was concerned with the beginning or the end of it, perhaps, or with some incident in the middle, but what his own doings led to he had seldom a chance of discovering. You will give the Hairless Mexican the notes in return for the documents that Andreadi is bringing.

They were Prince Ali and his secretary. She was shouting at the top of her voice and suddenly smacked the old woman’s face. His parents died early and, after an unhappy boyhood, which he recorded poignantly in Of Human BondageMaugham became a qualified physician.


The Hairless Mexican – A Keystone Cop tale with a very stereotyped figure that would fail any ideas of politically correction. In fact, there are so many different locales, so many colorful people participating in so many unconnected stratagems, revealing themselves in so many distinct conversations, that it would not be surprising if a reader concluded that Ashenden was no more than a collection of themed short stories printed in chapters to make it look like a novel.

The Ashenden stories remind us that even when the stakes are astronomically high, a spy’s job can be a lowdown grind. Perhaps it was only some trivial thing that was important only in her addled old brain. Who is to say what is true or not. In Paris I was driven to earn a pittance by giving Spanish lessons or showing Americans— Americanos del NorteI mean—the night life of the city.

The liftman stood aside to let him step into the lift, but Ashenden shook his head. I listened to the audiobook edition narrated by Christopher Oxford, who is superb. 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.

Aug 20, Wanda rated it liked it Shelves: They arrived at Miss King’s door and the maid knocked. Thanks to the Review Group on Intelligence and Communications Technologies, a panel appointed by President Obama, the practice of spying has been thrust back into headlines this week.

Winston Churchill reportedly advised Maugham to burn 14 other stories.