Theatre by W. Somerset Maugham

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“Beginners, please.”

Those words, though heaven only knew how often she had heard them, still gave her a thrill. They braced her like a tonic. Life acquired significance. She was about to step from the world of make-believe into the world of reality.

La diva Julia

Protagonista assoluta del romanzo è Julia Lambert, famosa attrice teatrale londinese, rinomata per il grandissimo talento. Julia ha ormai raggiunto i quarantasei anni, ha un figlio avuto dal marito Micheal, regista e suo “manager”, e non ha alcuna intenzione di rinunciare al teatro.

Maugham ci presenta Julia nella sua quotidianità: il rapporto con il marito Micheal di cui non è più innamorata – se si escludono alcuni slanci di invaghimento che la colgono, con il figlio Roger che non apprezza e con il giovane Tom, di cui si innamorerà fino a farlo diventare suo amante.

Il bello di questo romanzo sono le riflessioni tra sè e sè dell’attrice, che sotto la figura della moglie fedele, della madre amorevole e della donna di classe indispensabile in ogni party è in realtà manipolatrice, sempre pronta a giudicare e a pensar male di marito, figlio e conoscenti, oltre a essere talvolta piuttosto poco elegante.

Julia è un personaggio che incanrna la sua attività: il suo vero mondo è il teatro, non la vita realte, come ci ricorda lei stessa: nella citazione a inizio pagina il mondo del make-believe è quello di tutti i giorni, la realtà il teatro.

Nel romanzo Julia dovrà confrontarsi con alcune verità: arriverà a capire di non riuscire ad ammaliare tutti con le sue finzioni, il figlio Roger – che lei ha sempre ritenuto poco brillante – la confronterà con dure parole:

You don’t know the difference between truth and make-believe. You never stop acting. It’s second nature to you. You act when there’s a party here. You act to the servants, you act to father, you act to me. To me you act the part of the fond, indulgent, celebrated mother. You don’t exist, you’re only the innumerable parts you’ve played. I’ve often wondered if there was ever a you or if you were never anything more than a vehicle for all these other people that you’ve pretended to be. When I’ve seen you go into an empty room I’ve sometimes wanted to open the door suddenly, but I’ve been afraid to in case I found nobody there.

Oltre a questo Julia dovrà venire a patti con il non essere più desiderabile come quando era giovane: il dubbio che Tom la aduli e stia con lei solo per avvantaggiare una giovane attrice che è sua amante.

Julia, da grande attrice e donna, affronterà ogni prova che il destino le porrà davanti, risorgendo ogni volta dalle sue ceneri, come una mitologica fenice e guadagnandosi le simpatie del lettore, nonostante i palesi diffetti di carattere e l’opportunismo che traspare dalle sue azioni.

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Theatre

Julia Lambert is the absolute main character of this novel, a famous london theatre actress, well-known for her great talent. Julia now is forty-six, has a son from her husband Michael, the manager and director of her pieces, and has no desire to stop acting.

Maugham shows Julia in her day by day life: her relationship with her husband Micheal she does not love anymore – excluding some moments when she fancies him, with her son, Roger, and with the young Tom, who she falls for till they becoming lovers.

The strong points of this novel are when Julia wonders about, showing that under the image of faithful wife, loving mother and classy woman she in truth is manipulator always ready to judge her husband, her son and her friends, apart from being not always a refined woman.

Julia is her work: her true world is the theatre, not the day by day life, as she tells us, in the quote at the beginning the make-believe world is the routine, the reality is the acting world.

In the novel Julia has to face some hard times: she will understand that not everybody is deceived by her, Roger – she always tought to be quite slow – will tell her hard words:

You don’t know the difference between truth and make-believe. You never stop acting. It’s second nature to you. You act when there’s a party here. You act to the servants, you act to father, you act to me. To me you act the part of the fond, indulgent, celebrated mother. You don’t exist, you’re only the innumerable parts you’ve played. I’ve often wondered if there was ever a you or if you were never anything more than a vehicle for all these other people that you’ve pretended to be. When I’ve seen you go into an empty room I’ve sometimes wanted to open the door suddenly, but I’ve been afraid to in case I found nobody there.

Moreover Julia will have to understand she is no more attractive as in her youth: does Tom love her or he is flattering her only to help a young actress in getting better roles?

Julia, being a great woman and actress, faces every issues, rising again from ashes like the mythological phoenix and gaining the liking of the readers, despite her obvious faults in character and her self-interest showing in her actions.

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Theatre by W. Somerset Maugham ★★★★

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