March 21, 2019 posted by

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 took two chairs, one to sit on and one for his feet, and when R. It is mere matter of fact.

Book Review: Ashenden; or, the British Agent by W. Somerset Maugham

She came in with the other market-women and the search at the frontier was perfunctory. Does that suit you? I should say in fairness that I do really like a couple of the stories, ‘Behind the Scenes’, which paints a vivid picture of sexual obsession, and and the poignant last tale in the collection, ‘Mr This is a collection of linked short stories rather than a novel, based on Maugham’s own time as a spy during the First World War.

He was living with his two daughters and a certain Pasha, Mustapha by name, who was his secretary and managed his affairs. He would have sworn that he had not been asleep five minutes when he was dragged back to wakefulness by a knocking at the door. He stood at the door, looking up and down the platform and up at the clock; it was useless to go if his travelling companion did not turn up, and Ashenden made up his mind to take his things out of the carriage as the porter cried en voiture: Her face was greasy still with the cream she had used before going to bed to remove her make-up, but she had removed it summarily and there were streaks of black on her eyebrows and of red on her cheeks.

Chris 10 March at Ashenden told him his errand. Eric Ambler alluded to this preface in his introduction to To Catch a Spy when he wrote that “Ashenden was based, as Mr Maugham has told us, on his own experiences as a British agent in Switzerland and Russia during the —18 war.


The Mexican was going to Brindisi and Ashenden to Naples. It is a profession full of tribulation, but it has now and then its compensations.

Ashenden: Or the British Agent – Wikipedia

If you do well you’ll get no thanks and if you get into trouble you’ll get no help. He was of great family and indeed related to the Hohenzollerns. No reason they couldn’t have stashed them in a vault for 50 years. Despite my having become interested in spy fiction well over three years ago, and despite Ashenden being arguably the most sshenden work in the field, I only encountered it earlier this year when I read two of the connected stories which make up the book in two different spy fiction anthologies — Alfred Hitchcock’s Sinister Spies and the Eric Ambler-compiled To Catch a Ashenndenboth published in the mids.

The game played now was contract, with which he was not very familiar, and the stakes were high; but the game ageng obviously but a pretext and Ashenden had no notion what other game was being played under the rose.

It was opened by Monsieur Bridet. During his return with the laundry, Harrington is killed gaent a street riot. Espionage in WWI was often frowned upon as not being gentlemanly.

The day before, an incident had occurred that had left him on his guard. Please tell us about any errors you have found in this book, or in the information on this page about this book. Presently she came back with the answer that the girl would come on the condition that I allowed her to go home immediately after dinner. I was sent to prevent the Bolshevik Revolution and to keep Russia in the war.


View all 4 comments. He began to sing. One story takes place on the Trans-Siberian Railway. While spy stories set during Ahsenden War 2 and during the Cold War have their charms I find the earlier tales set during the First Word War or in the years leading up to that war much more appealing.


She went out and Ashenden was left alone. He was glad to be rid of that chattering, hideous and fantastic creature. If you think we might need to communicate with you, please include your email address. Lake Leman, on fine days so trim ashensen pretty, artificial like a ahent of water in a French garden, in this tempestuous weather was as secret and as menacing as the sea.

What makes you think you can trust him? They were sitting now in a restaurant on the place to which Ashenden had taken R. His self-satisfaction was enormous but so ingenuous that you could not resent it; his conceit was so childlike that you could only smile at it.

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

This is the book that started the spy genre. He differs from short story to short story, can be very gentle and forgiven and incredibly cold. Since she had so many advantages for espionage, it was fairly safe to suppose that an alert secret service had enlisted her services and Ashenden took it for granted that she was engaged somehow on the same kind of work as himself.

During the First World War, Maugham with his reputation of being a relatively known writer was sent by British Intelligence to Switzerland for a series of assignments. Perhaps at the moment of death a love zgent her country, a love that had been dead for half a century, awakened again in her— “I’m silly to fancy these idiotic things,” thought Ashenden, “it’s cheap and tawdry fiction” —and she had been seized with a desire ashenxen do something for what was after all her own.

The work of an agent in the Intelligence Department is on the whole extremely monotonous.