Liza of Lambeth
Diana Maltz, editor
Following the publication of Liza of Lambeth, W. Somerset Maugham would go on to establish himself as one of the best-selling and most prolific novelists of the twentieth century. For all that Liza did not dramatize life in a thieves’ den or depict the poor as atavistic brutes, its honest treatment of working-class pastimes and appetites troubled middle-class readers as much as the bludgeonings and chivings of Arthur Morrison’s violent A Child of the Jago had one year before. Maugham vividly captured a working-class couple’s illicit romance and a neighborhood’s collective surveillance and punishment of the woman’s alleged promiscuity and the man’s marital infidelity. Today, the novel’s treatment of women’s experiences, working-class life, and health and medicine in the Victorian city are freshly relevant.
Diana Maltz is Professor of English at Southern Oregon University.
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