W. Somerset Maugham, Ashenden: or The British Agent

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Ashenden: or The British Agent

(1928) is a collection of linked stories by W. Somerset Maugham, based upon his experiences of wartime espionage in Switzerland (1915-16) and in Russia (1917). It is not Maugham’s best volume of short stories, but it is significant as a landmark of modern spy fiction, displacing the high drama of the adventure-thriller school (E. Phillips Oppenheim, John Buchan) with cooler intelligence, in both senses. The ironic realism with which Maugham presents the unglamorous routines of intelligence in


laid the foundations for a new realistic tradition in espionage fiction developed by Graham Greene, Len Deighton and John Le Carré. The stories are also notable for the first appearance of the Ashenden character, a professional author who strongly resembles…

1928 words

Citation: Baldick, Chris. "Ashenden: or The British Agent". The Literary Encyclopedia. First published 28 May 2020 [https://www.litencyc.com/php/sworks.php?rec=true&UID=11450, accessed 22 April 2024.]

11450 Ashenden: or The British Agent 3 Historical context notes are intended to give basic and preliminary information on a topic. In some cases they will be expanded into longer entries as the Literary Encyclopedia evolves.

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