The Razor's Edge by W. Somerset Maugham, First American Trade Edition, 1944

Maugham, Somerset W. The Razor’s Edge: A New Novel.  Garden City: Doubleday, Doran & Co., Inc., 1944. First American trade edition. 8vo. Rebound by Asprey & Garrard in full black leather with gilt tooling and titles to spine. 

This is the first American trade edition of The Razor’s Edge by W. Somerset Maugham. The book is presented rebound by Asprey & Garrard in full black leather with gilt titles and tooling to bards and spine and striped endpapers. 

The Razor’s Edge tells the story of Larry Darrell and his experiences in World War I as a war pilot. Returning from war with PTSD and in search of some transcendent meaning to his life, Darrell’s character challenged the 1940s stereotypes of the returning military hero. Some controversy surrounded the publication of this book because of its lack of patriotic fervor and its embrace of bohemian ideals, but today it is regarded as one of the more important pieces of American literature from the 1940s. 

This first American trade edition was published on April 20, 1944, two days after a limited edition of 750 copies published in New York. It was later published in England in July of 1944. The book was twice adapted into film, first in 1946 starring Tyrone Power, Gene Tierney, and Herbert Marshall as Maugham and Anne Baxter as Sophie, and then a 1984 adaptation starring Bill Murray.

W. Somerset Maugham, born in 1874, was a popular British novelist and playwright during the early 20th century. He was named one of the highest paid writers during the 1930s and continued to receive success throughout his lifetime for his many novels. His various travels across the world, as well as his work for the Secret Intelligence Service during World War I, inspired future novels. 

Maugham’s style of writing is recognized as stark and unadorned. Authors such as Ian Fleming even found inspiration in Maugham’s writing, as Fleming noted that his book Quantum of Solace was written as a homage to Maugham and his writing style. 


Very good condition. 8vo. (viii), 343, (3) pp. Full black leather with gilt tooling to boards and gilt titles, tooling, raised bands to spine. All edges gilt. Handmade decorative striped endpapers. Bound by Asprey & Garrard. Presented with a new archival black cloth slipcase with the author's portrait on front. Internally clean, without marks, foxing, or stains.

Dimensions (book): 8"H x 5 3/4"W x 1 3/8"D

Dimensions (with slipcase): 8 1/4"H x 6"W x 1 5/8"D

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