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 Agentfirst published inis a series of linked stories relating the adventures of a writer of comic plays who is recruited into Agenf W. He looked at Ashenden reflectively.

Ashenden: or, The British Agent

Neither in his manner nor in his speech was there any indication that he had drunk during the evening anything but lemonade. We follow him through France, Switzerland, Italy and Russia, as he uncovers spy networks, accompanies agents to intercept certain documents, tries to trap Indian nationalists and is bored to death by an American businessman on the Trans-Siberian express.

But he answered the question with gravity. It gives you a picture of a different world with refugees and revolutionaries. There was nothing on his passport to ashenen that he had been in France; the steamer went round the lake touching French soil at two places, but going from Switzerland to Switzerland, so that his journey might have been to Vevey or to Lausanne; but he could never be sure that the secret police had not taken note of him, and if he had been followed and seen to land in France, the fact that there was thee stamp on his passport would be difficult to explain.

Sounds like governments of today! The black eyes, and as xgent looked at them they seemed to glow mysteriously as though there were fire behind them, the eyes continued to hold him with that insistent stare.


It appears that in Mexico it’s ageht insult to get between a man and his drink and he told me himself that once when a Dutchman who didn’t know passed between him and the bar he whipped out his revolver and shot him dead. He seemed to find nothing at all touching in the scene he related.

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

Ashenden had in him, it seems, a strain of flippancy agemt account of which, indeed, the critics had often reproached briitsh and as he stood for a moment outside the door his predicament appeared to him on a sudden ashsnden droll. He was tortured by the fear of making a fool of himself by giving too much or of exciting the waiter’s icy scorn by giving too little. What do you write? Mr Maugham’s spy Ashenden is a complete human, with all the English prejudices and civilities of his time, the s, and class, upper middle.

He had taken care to get on friendly terms with the porter and his tips for trifling services had been generous. I have just given her an injection.

Ashenden: Or the British Agent – Wikipedia

I took off the diamond agnt I was wearing and told the old woman to give her that and see whether it would induce her to change her mind. He was a purple patch on two legs.

Although Ashenden is not an assassin like his fictional son James Bond Ian Fleming got the idea for Agent from this book he is still an astute judge of human character and action and tries to fight for justice.

Sometimes they give you a character and leave it at that. As intriguing as that blog article you refer to may 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.


The Prince sat in silence, looking at Ashenden quietly from under his heavy eyelids. She does not want them. When he got to his room he suddenly realised that he was dog-tired.

Ashenden by W. Somerset Maugham

If you decide to read this, strive to obtain an edition like this one that includes not only the novel but the preface to the edition. Now it was Ashenden’s principle a good one in life as well as in the Intelligence Department always to tell as much of the truth as he conveniently could; so he answered as follows:. When I get back to Mexico and am in possession of my estates again you must come and stay with me.

It is funny, she knew the number of your room. And if he were arrested as a secret agent he must spend xshenden least the night in a cell.

In the course of his manipulations he had thrown out all the cards in the pack but four, and these now lay in front of him face downwards and side by side. Book Glutton 11 March at It works up to an interesting situation, and then leaves it in the air to follow an issue that has nothing to do with the point; it has no sense of climax and whittles away its dramatic effects in irrelevance.

However, having said this, the chapter where Ashenden recalls a past love affair of his own ‘Love and Russian Literature’ is probably the weakest section of the book. She always insisted on talking French. It was as plain as the nose on your face.