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Summary

In this dark, haunting tale, Richard Merton recounts the story of his close friend, Tony, a young lawyer recently returned from the war and the subtle, sinister destruction of his personality by his servant, Barrett. 

Seeking ease and comfort, Tony hires Barrett to cater to his needs, not realizing that his new servant has a hidden agenda. As Barrett gradually and insidiously leads his employer into physical and moral degradation, the roles of master and servant will become grotesquely reversed.

Robin Maugham’s modern classic The Servant (1948) was hailed by The New York Times as "a masterpiece of writing" and was adapted for a celebrated 1963 film version directed by Joseph Losey and scripted by Harold Pinter. 

This new edition includes a preface by Maugham from the 1973 edition, explaining the origins of the novel and a new introduction by William Lawrence.

"A highly skilled portrait . . . succeeds as a horror story of considerable brightness and sharpness." (Kirkus Reviews)

"It’s shocking, brilliantly written, completely absorbing." (Chicago Daily News)

"The story has a quiet and absolutely terrifying inevitability...reminiscent of Henry James himself." (News Chronicle)

"An exquisite work of art...a masterpiece of observation and craftsmanship." (Sheffield Telegram)

"One of those little story gems you seldom come across these days...a plausible picture of human collapse told with insight and considerable skill." (New York World Telegram)

©1984 William Lawrence (P)2019 Valancourt Books LLC

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  • tru britty
  • 20-03-20

A Tale of a Very Creepy Manservant

The Servant is a slow-burn suspense novella that takes place after World War II. It's a quick read, with good writing, excellent dialogue, not much action but with some morally suspect characters whose interactions leave the reader feeling uneasy. What's going on here? The story begins with the narrator going about his business when a friend from the war, Tony, suddenly gets in touch. The Servant really is about Tony and his manservant, Barrett,. The two friends haven't seen each other in five years. Apparently, Tony has just come back from military or overseas government service in the Far East. He's ready to let his hair down and do what he pleases. And so he hires Barrett to take care of all the essentials of life he, Tony, would rather not both with. He's lazy. And there's the crux of the problem. The oh-so-perfect Barrett has an eagle-eye for the foibles and moral failings of his employers and knows how to use them. Apparently, The Servant was adapted to the big screen and the stage. The author talks about this in his preface. He also relates to two episodes from his life that provided the origins of The Servant. The narrator Richard Turner is excellent.

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  • Bridget C.
  • 30-01-20

Upstairs Downstairs has never been so creepy

I listened to the entire audiobook in one sitting. The narrator was fantastic; the kind of voice that could read you the phone book. I kept having to pause and verify that this book was originally published in 1948... one can only imagine how scandalously it would have read back then. I kept thinking of Quint from The Turning of the Screw and Thomas Barrow from Downton Abbey and getting scrummy chills and shudders

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  • Bill
  • 20-01-20

Not completely horrible. Just mildly boring

Not completely horrible. Just mildly boring. Evidently there was some underlying social commentary here from the late 40’s that I missed. It was probably there...somewhere. On the plus side I really enjoyed the narration.

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  • Jeffrey C.
  • 16-01-20

Short and wicked

A fine, grotesque novella, wonderfully narrated by Richard Turner. Can never go wrong with Valancourt.