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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He suggests that, as Ashenden speaks seve This fascinating, and delightful, book is often regarded as the first spy story and a precursor to Smiley and James Bond. I was very impressed by this book. He looked through the cards, set some of them on one side on a system Ashenden did not agebt, shuffled the remainder and once more put them in little piles.

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 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.

Sometimes they give you a character and leave it at that. The moment he realizes he’s been used to get a man he likes sent to a firing squad was probably the most memorable for me. But what a silly excuse was this to make for a visit and what a poverty of invention it showed! If there is no motive the most damning evidence will be inconclusive. He may be playing baccarat. We thrill to the idea of action — but in the end, the gathering of intelligence is not a rip-roaring yarn. She may partly recover the use of her tongue in a little while.

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. What do you write?

Maugham presents Ashenden’s brritish in chapters much like short stories, which have the benefit of encompassing one plot as a comprehensible whole rather than allowing the various missions to become tangled, as they might have been in real life.


Another great thing about this book is that it does not contain many of the content issues that people have with James Bond and many of the other action stories.

The silence must have lasted for two or three minutes. The last words that R.

The 20 best spy novels of all time

Definitely from a different world, but do we still see traces of snobbishness in society today? In Maugham’s case, embarrassment over having possibly violated national security would be joined with personal pain over having to destroy his own work. You shall ride my best horses, we will go to bull-fights together, and if there are girls you fancy you have only to say the word and you shall have them.

He sent them to Winston Churchill who told him to burn them. Ashenden shares his cabin with an American business man who will not shut his mouth! The different tales take you on a journey of the playwright only known as Ashenden Somerville it is insinuated that this is not his real name w This is a collection of short stories can be treated as a asyenden of short stories, except there are some repeated characters, so you can’t read them out of order relaying the fictionalised conquests of W.

As intriguing as that blog article you refer to britisj be, it dates from year before last, and I can’t find any other reference to the stories in question being found–the Wikipedia article on Ashenden makes no mention of any of this.

In all of the stories, Maugham observes people.

I laughed at her impertinence. One of the French ministers went down to Nice to recover from a cold and he had some very important documents with him that he kept in a dispatch-case.

Ashenden had been to France in order to write and dispatch a report. Chris 6 March at Some are just stereotyped ‘funny foreigners’ – for instance the title character in ‘The Hairless Mexican’, who wrongly thinks he is irresistible to women and never washes. Ashenden was well aware that he would never know what happened then.

Something passed through her eyes and a tremor shot across her little old face. There was nothing, and he was about to get into the lift when the porter told him that two gentlemen were waiting in his room to see him.


She was a woman of more than forty, but in a hard and glittering manner extremely beautiful. The last story has a comment about the powers that be wanting to get yhe tasks done like an assassination or a warbut don’t want any trace of blood on their hands.

While ashendej talked with the Pasha and the beautiful Austrian he was conscious that the watchful eyes of Prince Ali were upon him, and he had an uneasy suspicion that they read too much of his thoughts.

He picked up the cards and put them aside. It is basically awhenden series of vignettes, with Ashenden involved in a number of incidents for the Secret Service. For ten years before his first success, he almost l William Somerset Maugham was born in Paris in As he walked past Count Holzminden, Ashenden feeling very gay hazarded the shadow of a wink.

Ashenden by W. Somerset Maugham

This page was last edited on 26 Novemberat Oct 14, DeAnna Knippling rated it it was amazing Shelves: The Prince gave him a quick look, but did not speak. Other soldiers sat beside him and more stood behind. Short story collections by W. He spoke French even before he spoke a word of English, a fact to which some critics attribute the purity of his style.

Ashenden gave his room an enveloping glance. She sat on the edge of a chair, uneasily, as though in the presence of death she feared to presume.

The language is quite something. It increased if anything the cordiality of his relations with her. Anyhow, you had better get back to Geneva. You should not like the person, but you do!

Kansas City in the Pendergast Era. I devised a murder story once, but the murder was so ingenious that I could never find a way of bringing it home to the murderer, and after all, one of the conventions of the detective story is that the mystery should in the end be solved and the criminal brought to justice.