91 pages 3 hours read

W. Somerset Maugham

The Painted Veil

Fiction | Novel | Adult | Published in 1925

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The Painted Veil

  • Genre: Fiction; historical classic
  • Originally Published: 1925
  • Reading Level/Interest: College/Adult
  • Structure/Length: 80 chapters; approx. 280 pages; approx. 7 hours on audio
  • Protagonist and Central Conflict: In 1920s Hong Kong, Kitty Fane’s husband Walter discovers her love affair with another man. When her lover refuses to marry her, Kitty accompanies Walter to a remote cholera-stricken village in China, where her experiences change her perception of Walter and impact her future choices.
  • Potential Sensitivity Issues: Racist/Intolerant language choices

William Somerset Maugham, Author

  • Bio: 1874-1965; English novelist, playwright, and short story writer; educated as a physician but abandoned medicine in favor of writing; served in England’s secret service during World War I; popular, successful, and most highly paid author of the 1930s
  • Other Works: Of Human Bondage (1915); The Moon and Sixpence (1919); The Razor’s Edge (1944)
  • Awards: In 1947, Somerset Maugham instituted The Somerset Maugham Award, a prize given to promising young authors under the age of 35.

CENTRAL THEMES connected and noted throughout this Teaching Unit:

  • Inequality in Love
  • The Subjugated Other: White Women and Colonial Subjects
  • The Tension Between Character and Personality

STUDY OBJECTIVES: In accomplishing the components of this Unit, students will:

  • Gain an understanding of the British colonial historical and social context of the novel; apply this knowledge to the study of the novel’s portrayal of characters and events.