Sunday, September 18, 2022

W. Somerset Maugham ✎ On a Chinese Screen

W. Somerset Maugham

On a Chinese Screen


William Heinemann, Londra, 1953, pp. 132-133


When I lay in my bed I asked myself why in the despotic East there should be between men an equality so much greater than in the free and democratic West, and was forced to the conclusion that the explanation must be sought in the cess-pool. For in the West we are divided from our fellows by our sense of smell. The working man is our master, inclined to rule us with an iron hand, but it cannot be denied that he stinks: none can wonder at it, for a bath in the dawn when you have to hurry to your work before the factory bell rings is no pleasant thing, nor does heavy labour tend to sweetness; and you do not change your linen more than you can help when the week’s washing must be done by a sharp-tongued wife. I do not blame the working man because he stinks, but stink he does. It makes social intercourse difficult to persons of a sensitive nostril. The matutinal tub divides the classes more effectually than birth, wealth, or education. It is very significant that those novelists who have risen from the ranks of labour are apt to make it a symbol of class prejudice, and one of the most distinguished writers of our day always marks the rascals of his entertaining stories by the fact that they take a bath every morning.

Now the Chinese live all their lives in the proximity of very nasty smells. They do not notice them. Their nostrils are blunted/133 to the odours that assail the Europeans and so they can move on an equal footing with the tiller of the soil, the coolie, and the artisan. I venture to think that the cess-pool is more necessary to democracy then parliamentary institutions. The invention of the ‘sanitary convenience’ has destroyed the sense of equality in men. It is responsible for class hatred much more than the monopoly of capital in the hands of the few.

It is a tragic thought that the first man who pulled the plug of a water-closet with that negligent gesture rang the knell of democracy.


Sunday, September 4, 2022

Thursday, September 1, 2022

Prieteni vechi

Revin tot mai des la „Habanita” (născută în 1921!), ca la o prietenă dragă, care mă cunoaște bine. Mă las cu încredere în îmbrățișarea ei, o ascult cum mă învăluie cu vorba caldă și amândoi visăm la călătorii îndepărtate sau la unele și mai aventuroase — în noi înșine.

Uneori, intervine în discuție și „Lavande”, cu firea ei vegetală, mereu revigorantă, amintind de prieteni vechi — „Pour un homme” de la Caron.