Maugham spent the winter months of 1919-20 travelling 1500 miles up the Yangtze River. Always more interested in people than places, he gave full rein to a sensitive and philosophical nature. On a Chinese Screen is the refined accumulation of the countless scraps of paper on which he had taken notes. Within the narrow confines of their colonial milieu, missionaries, consuls, army officers and company managers are all gently ridiculed as they persist obliviously with the life they know.
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