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July 22, 2011

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the modern spy, they may look wry but their drink of choice is most definitely a martini shaken not stirred...maybe blofeld (The Count de Bleuchamp) drank rye....in fact, i hear that there is a rare barrel of whiskey labelled Spectre No. 1 forthcoming at auction....

Alas, (A) Somerset Maugham didn't write "The Narrow Corner" in 1944, and (B) it's not a spy story.

I didn't think I was inviting a teach-in on the subject, but for the record (A) Barzun in his "American Scholar" essay argues that "Dr. Saunders, the hero-observer of the well-named Narrow Corner," has served as a model for "second- and third-hand fiction [that] has copied and exploited the disillusioned stance of the masters." Barzun does not call "The Narrow Corner" a spy novel -- his thought is rather that certain spy novels derive their stance from modern masters. But of course Barzun was also aware that Maugham in "Ashenden" had invented the modern spy story and so his presence in this context is doubly apt.(B) For whatever reason, Barzun in his "American Scholar" essay cites (footnotes) a 1944 paperback version of "The Narrow Corner." -- DL

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I left it
on when I
left the house
for the pleasure
of coming back
ten hours later
to the greatness
of Teddy Wilson
"After You've Gone"
on the piano
in the corner
of the bedroom
as I enter
in the dark
                   

from New and Selected Poems by David Lehman


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