Friday, February 6, 2009

The Verger

My favourite short story writer is W. Somerset Maugham. Maugham wrote novels and plays as well, but in the short story genre he is acknowledged to be one of the greatest writers who ever lived. One of my preferred short stories of his is The Verger. People who know me well know that this has been a favourite of mine for over twenty years so this is why I bring it up now considering the predicament I find myself in.

This is a six page short story about a verger who gets laid off after 16 years of faithful service and impeccable performance in his job at the church because the recently appointed vicar finds out that he can neither read nor write. In his depressed state on the evening he is let go, he wanders several streets of London searching for a tobacconist shop to buy cigarettes. He knows he cannot live for long on his meager savings, wants to sit and think about what he will do with his life and he wants a cigarette to smoke while doing so.

Upon not being able to find a shop easily, he decides to open one as he cannot imagine that he is the only person that this has happened to, wanting to buy cigarettes but not finding a readily accessible store. He opens one, becomes successful and soon expands. Before long he is operating a string of shops, all of them quite lucrative.

Finally one day, as he is depositing his weekly earnings, the bank manager stops and chats with him for a few minutes, trying to convince him to invest some of his hard-earned money in some investment products (sound familiar?) in order to get higher returns. The verger is hesitant to do this and confesses to the bank manager that he would not be able to read the paperwork in order to sign it. The bank manager is completely flabbergasted and says,

“And do you mean to say that you’ve built up this important business and amassed a fortune of 30,000 pounds (remember, Maugham wrote this short story circa 1920) without being able to read or write? Good God man, what would you be now if you had been able to?”

The ex-verger then replies.

“I can tell you that sir,” said Mr. Foreman, a little smile on his still aristocratic features. “I’d be the verger of St. Peter’s, Neville Square.”

This story appears in the second volume out of four of W. Somerset Maugham’s Collected Short Stories. I think I’ll go out and look for my tobacconist’s store now, whatever that may be.

9 comments:

Fiammetta said...

Somerset Maugham isn't my most favourite author. But, in class I'm learning about his words, especially "The Verger". Next week, my class'll learn about this short story. My group 'll introduce about this word for all class. And I intend to talk about the style of Maugham's short story and the formal plot of his story and analysis this kind of plot through "The Verger". I'm repairing this topic, and surprisedly I search to your blog. Thank for your writen.
I try to search about the film name "Trio", the film based on Maugham short story (have The Verger) but I cann't see the torrent to download free this film. If you can see this, can you help me?
I hope you possible give me some ideals for my lesson. Thanks lot.
My email: thieumai@gmail.com
And welcome you to my blog!

Fiam

T. T. Douglas said...

Thank you for your comment Fiam. I have responded to you via email. I hope it helps you. Kind regards.

Hong Vuong said...

This is the first time I have read this short story of the author William Somerset Maugham.In next Tuesday,I am going to have a presentation about character analysis in The Verger and your writting is really available for me.I think that you are a person who have the large knowledge about this short story and this author and I wonder if can you help me any material or knowledge to analyze characters in this story.Thanks for your help a lot!
I hope you can help me some worthy knowledge for my next presentation .
My email:ruoutao1989@yahoo.com.vn

T. T. Douglas said...

Thank you for your comment. I will respond via email. Kind regards.

thao hien said...

your writing is very useful for me. Thax for uploading. In fact, my teacher ask me to analyze the whole story. And of course, this is not an easy task. And I think that you have clearly understood about this story. Therefore, I will appreciate much if u can give me some more analysis for this story. my email is hien.nguyennn@gmail.com

T. T. Douglas said...

Thank you for your comment. I will respond via email shortly. Kind regards.

Anonymous said...

hello
thanx a lot for the summary..
but i need more analyzing about this story..
for my exam if u can help me..
i will be Appreciate that..
my E :thestudentr@gmail.com

Uyen said...

Hello, thank you for sharing your knowledge, this's very helpful for us. In addition, I see that many people need your help to analyse characters in this story. I also need your help too. If it's convenient for you, please post on your blog so that all people can read it and it will save your time, too.
Thank you for your kind help :)

Hải Âu Nguyễn Thị said...

your writing is very useful for me. Thax for uploading. In fact, my teacher ask me to analyze the whole story. And of course, this is not an easy task. And I think that you have clearly understood about this story. Therefore, I will appreciate much if u can give me some more analysis for this story. my email is haiaunt195@gmail.com