Sunday, August 5, 2018

The Luncheon by Somerset Maugham --- Analysis

The short story "The Luncheon" by Somerset Maugham is written in a humorous style. The author describes what may happen if you can't say "no" to someone.

The author remembers the time when he was at the beginning of his career i.e. as a writer, and he received a letter from one a reader, a woman. She had read a book of him and he answered her thanking her. Later, he received from her another letter saying she was passing through Paris and had suggested chatting with him. She wrote the Foyot's restaurant would be an appropriate place for meeting. He knew that it was one of the most luxurious restaurants but he couldn't refuse. He thought that if he cut out coffee for the next two weeks he could go to the restaurant.

He was surprised that she was not a young woman as he expected. The prices in the restaurant were much higher than the narrator expected. He was glad to hear that the woman said: “I never eat anything for luncheon”. He answered generously “Oh, don't say that!”. But she continued “I never eat more than one thing. I think people eat far too much nowadays. A little fish, perhaps. I wonder if they have any salmon.”.

The waiter asked her if she wanted while it was being cooked. “No”, she answered, “I never eat more than one thing, unless you had a little caviare. I never mind caviare.” For the question about drinks she said “I never drink anything for luncheon. Except white wine. My doctor won't let me drink anything but champagne.

Being aware of how much would it all cost the author ordered the cheapest dish he found- mutton chop. She started criticizing the narrator for the heavy dish, she advised him to follow the example of her- never eat anything for lunch. She said, "I couldn't possibly eat anything more—unless they had some of those giant asparagus. I should be sorry to leave Paris without having some of them.

When the lunch was going to end the narrator said, “Coffee?”. “Yes, just an ice-cream and coffee,” she answered. At last, the waiter brought a large basket full of huge peaches.

The narrator left all his monthly income in the restaurant. When they were saying goodbye to each other she said: “Follow my example and never eat more than one thing for luncheon.”. The narrator answered, “I'll do better than that, I'll eat nothing for dinner tonight.”. “Humorist!” she cried gaily, jumping into a cab. “You're quite a humorist!

The story is funny, easy for reading, the sarcastic expressions "I never eat anything for Luncheon", "I never want more"," I couldn't possibly eat anything more" stuck in memory like a good joke. These would be good phrases during enjoyable dinner :)

This is the link to the text of the story: