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The Adventures of Ashenden The British Agent: A Summary of the Sixteen Stories

Ashenden The British Agent Pdf Download

If you are looking for a classic spy novel that combines realism, humor, and insight into human nature, you might want to check out Ashenden The British Agent by W. Somerset Maugham. This book is a collection of short stories based on the author's own experiences as a secret agent during World War I. In this article, we will give you a brief overview of the book, its author, and its significance. We will also provide you with a summary, an analysis, and a conclusion of the book. Finally, we will answer some frequently asked questions about Ashenden The British Agent and show you how you can download it for free.

Ashenden The British Agent Pdf Download


What is Ashenden The British Agent?

Ashenden The British Agent is a book of fiction that consists of sixteen interrelated stories that follow the adventures of Ashenden, a British writer who is recruited by the Intelligence Department to spy on enemy agents in various European countries. The stories are set between 1915 and 1918, during World War I, and depict Ashenden's encounters with different characters, such as a hairdresser-turned-spy, a Mexican revolutionary, a Russian assassin, a German propagandist, and a Swiss banker. The stories are not chronological, but rather thematic, and each one reveals a different aspect of espionage, such as deception, danger, boredom, romance, betrayal, and tragedy.

Who is the author and what is his background?

The author of Ashenden The British Agent is W. Somerset Maugham (1874-1965), a British novelist, playwright, and short story writer. He was born in Paris to British parents and lost both of them by the age of ten. He was raised by his uncle in England and studied medicine at St Thomas' Hospital in London. He started writing while he was still a medical student and published his first novel, Liza of Lambeth, in 1897. He became a successful playwright in the early 1900s and traveled extensively around Europe, Asia, Africa, and America. He served as a secret agent for the British government during World War I and used his experiences as the basis for Ashenden The British Agent, which he published in 1928. He continued to write prolifically until his death in 1965. He is regarded as one of the most popular and influential writers of the twentieth century.

Why is this book important and relevant?

Ashenden The British Agent is considered to be one of the first realistic spy novels in English literature. It influenced many later writers of espionage fiction, such as John le Carré, Graham Greene, Ian Fleming, Eric Ambler, and Alfred Hitchcock. It is also a valuable historical document that gives a glimpse into the world of espionage during World War I, as well as the political and social issues of the time. It is also a fascinating study of human nature and morality in war, as it shows how ordinary people are drawn into extraordinary situations and how they cope with them. It is also a witty and entertaining book that combines suspense, humor, and irony to create memorable stories and characters.

Summary of the book

How many stories are there and what are their themes?

There are sixteen stories in Ashenden The British Agent, divided into four sections: R., The Hairless Mexican, Miss King, and Giulia Lazzari. Each section has a different theme and tone, ranging from comedy to tragedy, from romance to violence, from adventure to introspection. Here is a brief summary of each story:

  • R.: This is the first story and introduces Ashenden and his handler, R., who gives him his assignments and instructions. Ashenden is sent to Geneva to spy on a German agent named Gustav. He meets Gustav's wife, Elsa, who is unhappy with her marriage and falls in love with Ashenden. Ashenden uses her to get information from Gustav, but he also develops genuine feelings for her. He faces a dilemma when he has to choose between his duty and his love.

  • The Traitor: This is the second story in the R. section. Ashenden is sent to Lucerne to persuade a British traitor named Caypor to return to England and face trial. Caypor is a former schoolteacher who has been working for the Germans and betraying his countrymen. Ashenden befriends Caypor and his wife, pretending to be sympathetic to their cause. He tries to manipulate Caypor into confessing his crimes and agreeing to go back to England, but he also feels sorry for him and his wife.

  • The Hairless Mexican: This is the first story in the The Hairless Mexican section. Ashenden is sent to Naples to meet a Mexican revolutionary named Carmona, who is also known as the Hairless Mexican because of his baldness. Carmona is supposed to assassinate a German diplomat in Switzerland, but he needs money and passports from the British. Ashenden arranges for him to get them, but he also has to deal with Carmona's eccentricities and demands.

  • The Greek: This is the second story in the The Hairless Mexican section. Ashenden is sent to Zurich to work with a Greek agent named Andreadi, who is supposed to help Carmona with his assassination mission. Andreadi is a charming and cunning man who claims to be an expert on explosives and disguises. He also claims to have a personal grudge against the German diplomat, who allegedly seduced his wife. Ashenden suspects that Andreadi is not trustworthy and may have ulterior motives.

  • His Excellency: This is the third story in the The Hairless Mexican section. Ashenden is sent to Bern to meet the British ambassador, Sir Herbert Witherspoon, who is also known as His Excellency. Sir Herbert is an elderly and pompous man who likes to meddle in Ashenden's affairs and give him unsolicited advice. He also likes to boast about his diplomatic skills and his connections with influential people. Ashenden finds him annoying and incompetent, but he has to tolerate him.

  • Mr Harrington's Washing: This is the fourth story in the The Hairless Mexican section. Ashenden is sent to Vevey to investigate a mysterious American named Mr Harrington, who may be involved in espionage activities. Mr Harrington is a fat and cheerful man who likes to talk about his travels and his laundry problems. He claims to be a businessman who deals with cotton and rubber, but he also seems to have contacts with German agents. Ashenden tries to find out more about him, but he also becomes fond of him.

  • Miss King: This is the first story in the Miss King section. Ashenden is sent back to Geneva to work with a female agent named Miss King, who is supposed to seduce a German officer named Baron von Higgins and get information from him. Miss King is an elderly and plain-looking woman who has been working as a governess for many years. She has no experience in espionage or romance, but she agrees to do her best for her country.

Analysis of the book

How does the author use realism and humor to portray espionage?

One of the distinctive features of Ashenden The British Agent is its realism and humor. Unlike many other spy novels that rely on sensationalism, melodrama, and heroism, Maugham's book depicts espionage as a mundane, tedious, and sometimes absurd occupation. Ashenden is not a super-spy who can perform incredible feats and save the world. He is a ordinary man who has to deal with practical problems, such as finding a hotel room, getting a passport, or doing his laundry. He also has to cope with the moral dilemmas and emotional conflicts that arise from his work, such as lying, manipulating, betraying, and killing. He often finds himself in awkward and humorous situations, such as having to pretend to be a married couple with Miss King, or having to listen to Mr Harrington's endless stories. Maugham uses humor to lighten the tone of the book and to show the irony and absurdity of war and espionage.

How does the author explore human nature and morality in war?

Another important aspect of Ashenden The British Agent is its exploration of human nature and morality in war. Maugham does not present a simplistic or partisan view of the conflict. He shows that there are good and bad people on both sides, and that war brings out the best and the worst in them. He also shows that there are no clear-cut rules or principles in espionage. Ashenden has to make difficult decisions based on his judgment and intuition, and he often faces unexpected consequences. He also has to question his own motives and values, and he sometimes feels guilty or conflicted about his actions. Maugham does not offer any easy answers or solutions. He leaves it to the reader to draw their own conclusions and opinions.

How does the book compare to other spy novels and stories?

Ashenden The British Agent is widely regarded as one of the first and finest examples of realistic spy fiction. It influenced many later writers of espionage fiction, such as John le Carré, Graham Gree