SRI RAMANA AND SOMERSET MAUGHAM



THE HOLY MAN, LARRY DARRELL, AND THE RAZOR'S EDGE


the Wanderling


Below is a written account from the screenplay of the 1946 black-and-white version of W. Somerset Maugham's The Razor's Edge outlining the conversation between Larry Darrell, the central character in the book and movie, and the venerated Indian holy man Maugham has given the name Shri Ganesha, as shown and heard in the excerpt above. You can just read what is presented or play the video with audio on and scroll down the page as Darrell and Ganesha speak, following word for word what they say. Just below the screenplay version, in what at first may appear to be in stark contrast to the movie version, is how Maugham presented their meeting and conversation in the book


THE MOVIE VERSION:

Sorry we were interrupted. They're pilgrims.
They come from many places... some from quite far distances.
What has brought you here, my son?

I've come to learn.
Ever since the war, I've been searching for something... something that I've... I've not been able to put into words.
I've been told that from you I might find... guidance.

God is the only guide.
But perhaps if we talk, he may show me a way to help you.

To my friends, I'm a loafer afraid of responsibilities.
I can't even make those I love understand what I'm after.

The fact that you've taken the time to come this great distance in search of knowledge... proves that you're not afraid of responsibilities.
Even to admit that you want to learn is in itself courageous.

I've studied. I've traveled. I've read everything I could get my hands on... and nothing seems to satisfy me.
Oh, like everyone else, I want to succeed, I want to improve, but... not necessarily in the terms of what the world calls success.
Somehow I've lost confidence in the accepted values.
I try to get excited at the prospect of settling down... minding my own business and making good... but it only increases my urge to move on.
I know that if I do find what I'm looking for... it will be something that I can share with others.
But how to find it, and where?

All your restlessness and confusion are not unique, my son.
The whole world is restless and confused.
It will always be so... as long as men set their ideals on the wrong objects.
There can be no real happiness... until men learn that it comes from within themselves.

I know.

It is written that the wise man lives from within himself... which is from God... from within his own heart.
This is the way of calmness, forbearance... compassion, selflessness... and everlasting peace.
But that's not easy.

No.

The road to salvation is difficult to pass over... as difficult as the... sharp edge of a razor.
But this much we know, and all religions teach it:
There is, in every one of us, a spark of the infinite goodness which created us.
And when we leave this earth, we are reunited with it, as a raindrop falling from heaven... is at last reunited with the sea which gave it birth.

May I stay here with you?

Of course you may.
Our life's very simple. There are books. We will talk together.
You can even work in the fields, if you wish.
We Indians believe there are three roads that lead to God.
One is the path of faith and worship.
One is the path of good works performed for the love of God.
And then there is a third path which leads through knowledge to wisdom.
You have chosen the way of knowledge.
But you'll find in the end, my son, that the three paths are but one path.
One of my students will show you where to sleep.

Thank you.


THE BOOK VERSION:

"What have you come here for?" he asked.

I began to tell him how I'd come to India and how I'd passed my time for three years; how, on report of their wisdom and sanctity, I'd gone to one holy man after another and had found no one to give me what I looked for. He interrupted me.

"All that I know. There is no need to tell me. What have you come here for?"

"So that you may be my Guru," I answered.

"Brahman alone is the Guru," he said.

He continued to look at me with a strange intensity and then suddenly his body became rigid, his eyes seemed to turn inwards and I saw that he'd fallen into the trance which the Indians call Samadhi and in which they hold the duality of subject and object vanishes and you become Knowledge Absolute. I was sitting cross-legged on the floor, in front of him, and my heart beat violently. After how long a time I don't know he sighed and I realized that he had recovered normal consciousness. He gave me a glance sweet with loving-kindness.

"Stay," he said. "They will show you where you may sleep."


The book version of the conversation between the holy man and Darrell above, as written by Maugham, is from page 263 of the online PDF book version linked below. Of course, right away, anybody can see there appears to be a huge discrepancy between the two. The question is, why do I say there appears to be a discrepancy when it is quite clear there is.

In a straight forward physical comparison of the two as has been done above it's hard to argue. However, in order to turn a book into a movie almost always requires a rewrite. The person who does the rewrite is called a screenwriter and what is written is called a screenplay. The Razor's Edge had three screenwriters, Maugham himself, a man named Lamar Trotti, and unusually so, Darryl F. Zanuck the head of the studios, albeit uncredited. Shows you how closely he, Zanuck, was personally involved in keeping a tight reign of the production from top to bottom to ensure the movie was a success at the box office. Maugham knew books, Zanuck knew movies. In order for the top dog's success in his success to be successful the book had to be streamlined for the movie going audience without losing the context or the gist of what was being said. In a book the writer has to put into words the surroundings, environment, or whatever, while in a move there's no need to as they can be seen. Huge numbers of pages can be deleted if the screenwriter can transfer visually to the screen what the writer has written about.

Maugham was in Hollywood in the 1940-45 period working on the screenplay among other things. He refused any payment for his work on the screenplay. Instead, studio heads learning Maugham was an avid art collector, compensated him for his work by giving him an Impressionist painting. When word came to him for such an arrangement he selected a painting by Pissarro, but Zanuck, through advice of those close to Maugham gave him a Matisse. Maugham immediately traded the Matisse for the Pissarro he wanted. It should be noted, except for parts, his screenplay was not used, but he did keep the painting. The studio said Maugham's version had too much talking. Maugham, although generally satisfied with the final result, thought the movie had too much dancing. The Pissarro Maugham kept was titled The Quai Saint-Sever, Rouen, as shown below:



THE QUAI SAINT-SEVER, ROUEN, CAMILLE PISSARRO 1896


The Razor's Edge, as written by Maugham is not done in straight linear time, meaning as he presents things in his book he jumps back and forth, sometimes telling the reader something that actually happened after a given event before the event, something that can become confusing if presented in a movie. The screenwriter took Maugham's book, scaled it down to fit into a movie then pretty much ran the events out in real time, roughly straight through from 1919 to 1938. Of course, in conversation Darrell does tell Mangham of events that already happened such as events in the war for example, but in doing so it is usually fairly clear, something that would have been difficult if the movie stuck straight to how Maugham wrote it. In the end, both the book and the movie work out quite well, especially if you take each one as an entity unto itself.

So, by now you pretty much figured out there are differences between the book version and the movie version, at least page by page. Not only are some things left out in the movie, some things that were never in the book are in the movie. So too, some things in the book that are in the movie have been modified or reconfigured so the movie goer still gets the punchline even though it's not presented in that manner in the book.


Maugham writes that immediately following Darrell's arrival in India he departs the ship in Bombay and goes to see the caves at Elephanta, which are located about an hour and a half away from Bombay by boat-launch. While observing the giant stone sculptures a man in a saffron robe strikes up a conversation with him. The man discusses Bhahma, Vishnu, and Siva being the three manifestations of Ultimate Reality. After a while the man puts the palms of his hands together and with the slightest indication of a bow strolls on. Maugham writes that Darrell had actually met the same man earlier during the voyage to India, only that on board the ship, instead of being in saffron, he always wore a checkered suit.

That night, rather than return to the docks, at least as Maugham writes it, albeit still with an element of truth but not exactly how it unfolded, Darrell travels third-class by train to Benares with, according to Maugham, the man in the checkered suit. Darrell stays in Benares six months. From Benares he travels to a northern Indian capital and is introduced to another person. Later on, in the book, the other person turns out to be the holy man Darrell eventually meets in the temple in Madura.

All along the way each man has something to tell Darrell about India, Hinduism, and the Absolute --- information that is really intended for the reader to know. Maugham is taking a simple literary device called the novelist's privilege and using a few straight-line sequential facts told to him by the Darrell character in real life, and dividing, scrambling, and puffing them up in order to impart information he wants the reader to know.

The screenwriter has done the same thing with the movie when it comes to the conversation between the holy man and Darrell. Notice both the movie version and the book version start out and end the same way. The movie version opens with "What has brought you here, my son?," the book with "What have you come here for?". The movie version closes with "One of my students will show you where to sleep," the book with "They will show you where you may sleep." The all important everything the holy man in the movie tells Darrell between the opening and closing isn't in the book version between the opening and closing except for one comment. In the movie the holy man says "God is the only guide" and in the book he says "Brahman alone is the Guru" Brahman in Hinduism being the main god of gods. The Hindu view of Brahman was too much to explain for the movie to get across so they simplified it to God. Otherwise, even though what the holy man said in the movie isn't in the book word-for-word as presented to Darrell, it doesn't mean it isn't in the book. It is. It's just spread out.

If you continue reading the book past what Maugham has written the holy man said you will find that in a few pages everything the movie holy man says shows up, just spread out in meaning over several pages. Since that information couldn't be incorporated into the movie for the movie going audience in a simple fashion, information the audience needs to know in order to make sense of the story just like Maugham did in the book with the three aforementioned travelers telling Darrell about India, Hinduism, and the Absolute, hence then the reader, the screenwriter squeezed the gist of it out of those several pages, which amount to at least five or six pages, condensed the "gist" and put it into the holy man's mouth. For me it works quite well, better than the book actually because it cuts to the quick. Instead of being spread out over several pages the same information in imparted verbally in a few short minutes.

If you scroll down the page you will find that just beneath the first cover graphic below is a second cover graphic. Clicking that graphic will take you to a PDF scanned version of the special Vanguard Library Edition of The Razor's Edge just as it was when first published. The version has been scanned directly from the original pages and, by using the buttons along the bottom of the screen can be made to show one page on the screen, two pages, or even more. The pages can be expanded or increased in size and as well, by using the search function on the sidebar to the left, the book is fully searchable by typing in any word, name, or phrase.



THE RAZOR'S EDGE PDF


(please click image)


(please click image)


The graphic below will take you to the complete Razor's Edge movie including how Darrell was led to the point where he met the holy man and what happened after. To watch is free with no sign ups and is expandable to full screen size. It is well worth watching:



(for full length movie please click image)

THE RAZOR'S EDGE: TRUE OR FALSE?


SHRI GANESHA, SRI RAMANA, AND MAUGHAM


WILLIAM SOMERSET MAUGHAM'S TRAVELS IN INDIA


LARRY DARRELL, THE HOLY MAN, AND SWAMI RAMDAS




Fundamentally, our experience as experienced is not different from the Zen master's. Where
we differ is that we place a fog, a particular kind of conceptual overlay onto that experience
and then make an emotional investment in that overlay, taking it to be "real" in and of itself.


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"Real Masters never charge for their services, nor do they accept payment in any form
nor in any sort of material benefits for their instructions. This is a universal law among
Masters, and yet amazingly, it is a fact that thousands of eager seekers in America and
elsewhere, go on paying large amounts of money for "spiritual instruction." Masters are
always self-sustaining and are never supported by their students or by public charity."

---Julian P. Johnson, The Path of the Masters (1939)





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