By W. Somerset Maugham, Nicholas Shakespeare


Cakes and Ale is either a wickedly satirical novel approximately modern literary poseurs and a skilfully crafted research of freedom. As he strains the fortunes of Edward Driffield and his remarkable spouse Rosie, essentially the most pleasant heroines of twentieth-century literature, Maugham's sardonic wit and lyrical heat expertly mix during this complete and unforgettable novel.

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Then he adds, with a snigger, that the new faithful, poor things, have only second-hand knowledge of such matters. Never, though, does he issue such boasts or assertions in her presence, since she exerts an aura upon this great thundering pile of flesh, spirit and intuition that no one else, whether prince, bishop or constitutional authority, has been able to impose. The gleam in her eyes is sometimes even brighter than the flame in the Magister’s, when he sets whole public squares ablaze with his oratorical power.

In particular, events in Wittenberg, in Luther’s absence, are exerting pressure upon the Elector. The rector of the University, Andreas Karlstadt, is actually at the head of a reform movement of his own that is finding a large following among the population. He has abolished monastic votes and celibacy for the men of the Church. Aural confession, the canon of the mass and the holy images have been subject to the same fate. He has unleashed popular fury against the pictures of the saints, and episodes of violence that have involved the despoliation of churches and chapels.

The same Prince Frederick saw him only in the public sessions. It was not, in any case, at the public sessions of 17th and 18th of April that the actual negotiations took place, as much as in private conversations and certain events that took place during Luther’s stay in Worms. As Your Lordship will already be aware, despite the intense aversion that the young Emperor Charles has as regards the monk and his theses, the Diet did not succeed in making him retract, or in taking the correct measures before events got out of control.

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