Home > William Somerset Maugham > Fools and their Folly

Fools and their Folly

Yet another Maugham. Yes, I am enjoying this book because this is by Maugham. But I am definately missing the “Maugham Charm”. I loved Cakes and Ale – it is a brilliant, MUST READ book; I will blog about Cakes and Ale later.


We all know about Machiavelli – an Italian Statesman and Politician – who believed that, if necessary use treachery and deceit to run the state. He was a loyal and a patriot – it seems thus so far. He loves his land more than his soul. He is a womanizer but he is smart and it is difficult to play games with him. We meet this Machiavelli in Maugham’s Fools and their Folly. But the tables have turned.

The state of Florence has to safegaurd its border. The powerful Duke of Imola , Cesear Borgia, is betrayed by his allies – at his own will. And so it is time to make new friends. Machiavelli, representing Florence, rushes to Imola to make a deal with the Duke. And thus the book begins.

Machiavelli is accompained by Piero – a young, handsome teenager. The wise and smart Statesman is smitten by a young and beautiful married woman. He does everything a man has to do to woo a woman. He sends the husband to a saint so that he can get sterile. And when the night to fulfill his desire comes he is summoned by the Duke on the matter of utmost importance. Nothing goes his way and he is desperate to go to the woman but ALAS! his love and his duty for the state has to make him stay back so that he can know what the Duke is thinking. The night turns out to be a big mess.

As time goes, life goes on. Duke captures many more lands and territories. The husband turns sterile and his wife is pregnant – a miracle, thinks the foolish husband. And Machiavelli realises that he was made a fool. The end turns out to be a little surprising and so I will not reveal.

I liked few statements & I will write some here.

“They say that dog doesn’t bite dog: Whoever invented this proverb had never lived under a democratic governement.”

“It is absurd to be wise with fools and foolish with the wise: you must speak to each one in his own language.”

“Be careful with your speech . There is always time to put in a word, never to withdraw one.”

The books ends with the statement
“We must believe that God loves men of good will, but there is no evidence to show that He will save the fools from the result of their folly.”

Not my favorite Maugham but not the worst of lot.

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