"ON THE WHOLE IT MADE LITTLE DIFFERENCE TO THEM IN WHAT CAPITAL THEY FOUND THEMSELVES, FOR THEY DID PRECISELY THE SAME THINGS IN CONSTANTINOPLE, BERNE, STOCKHOLM, AND PEKING": FIRST ENGLISH EDITION OF MAUGHAM'S ON A CHINESE SCREEN
MAUGHAM, W. Somerset. On a Chinese Screen. London: William Heinemann, 1922. Octavo, original gilt-stamped pictorial black cloth, original dust jacket. $550.
First English edition, published the same year and from the same plates as the American first edition, of this series of vignettes about Western expats in China, in scarce original dust jacket.
"Maugham's travel book on China, On a Chinese Screen… reveals a more liberal impulse at work. Instead of a coherent narrative of a journey through China, Maugham presents the readers with episodes and brief encounters with various types. Most of these pen-portraits are of the expatriate community in China and they range from the lower-class whites working as sailors with their colourful pasts being vagabonds tramping through China to the middle-class pillars of treaty port life—the diplomatic consuls and their wives, the single women in search of a husband, the sometimes self-righteous and pompous missionaries, the commercial merchants and bankers. Maugham's liberal stance is in evidence as he portrays the petty hypocrisies and ennui of the middle-class expatriate community, many of whom refuse to acknowledge China and the Chinese, living in a bubble of denial" (Gan, 190). Preceded by Doran's New York first edition. "The English edition of this work was printed from stereotype plates made from the American type, with a re-set title-page also set in America" (Stott A29b, note). Stott A29b.
Book near-fine, with original glue-staining to endpapers, small split to rear inner paper hinge, and only slightest rubbing to cloth, gilt bright. Scarce dust jacket very good, with slight soiling, a bit of toning, wear to extremities affecting title and publisher's name on spine, and edge reinforcement to verso (visible at chipped recto spine-ends).