This week, rather than fiction or poetry, we offer a 1940 appraisal of American literature by Somerset Maugham.
The noted English author comments on a few of the Big Names in American letters. As always, his writing is rewarding and highly readable. He deflates Henry James but says all the right things about Mark Twain. He is surprisingly cool to Hawthorne, inexplicably excited about Melville, and very helpful about Whitman (“Leaves of Grass is a book to open anywhere and read as long as it pleases and then turn the pages and start at random elsewhere.”)