W. Somerset Maugham, starts out The Moon and Sixpence , New York: Random House, Modern Library Edition, originally published in 1919, p. 1.
I confess that when first I made acquaintance with Charles Strickland I never for a moment discerned that there was in him anything out of the ordinary.This is a very innocent sentence, maybe I would have deleted the "that there was" to make the sentence a little tighter, but in 1919 that was the style. People had more leisure time.
Here point of view is established right off the bat. It's clear you're going to see Charles Strickland the artist filtered through the experience of the narrator. You detect a little unreliability about the narrator and wonder what that's about. And the exaggeration in "never for a moment" establishes an attitude. And here again, it's retrospective, so the time of the action in the novel is in the past, but the narrator is telling you this in the present.
And he says, "I confess." Why does he feel the need of confessing.
This is an absolutely wonderful book. Read it and keep it on your bookshelf. Then read it again a year later.
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