Penn Arts & Sciences Logo

William Somerset Maugham

a Study of Technique and Literary Sources - a Dissertation in English Presented to the Faculty of the Graduate School

University of Pennsylvania


This thesis was submitted in 1936 and later published as a book. It traces Somerset Maugham's writing style to the famous short story writer, Guy de Maupassant (1850- 1893). The final paragraph of the book says it all: “In conclusion we may say that Maupassant principally influenced Maugham in the composition of his short stories; in his insistence upon form and narrative, clarity of style, and precision of language; and in his constant effort to make his stories probable, convincing interpretations of real life." This assessment is nothing new because in 1934 Graham Greene wrote in The Spectator that Maugham was a disciple of Maupassant. And Somerset Maugham acknowledges Maupassant as a model in his Preface to The Complete Short Stories volume 1, (East and West) NY Doubleday, 1934, p vii. McIver's effort, however, is an enjoyable read.