The Summing Up, LXXVII

Maugham concludes The Summing Up with his conclusion of the three possible meanings of life. Goodness. Long story short, goodness is the meaning of life. He starts the chapter talking about love and how romantic love isn’t really a particularly good meaning of life because it’s got a lot of problems. Loving-kindness, Maugham’s own term, is a lot better and it’s a part of goodness. After Maugham dismisses romantic love, he doesn’t really talk much about goodness or loving-kindness. He just talks about his book being over and what he’s learned and how he came to a “commonplace” conclusion with it. Maybe I missed the narrative arc from drama to prose to goodness. It’s like he’s been toying with the idea of getting philosophical, then chickens out at the last minute. He never proves his case for goodness, not really; he doesn’t really try at it. Maybe he assumes his reader, sticking through the pragmatic atheism, will just go with it. But it’s not a good finish to a book. It’s a cop out.

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