The Razor’s Edge by W. Somerset Maugham

‘Larry, old boy,’ I said, ‘this long quest of yours started with the problem of evil. It was the problem of evil that urged you on. You’ve said nothing all this time to indicate that you’ve reached even a tentative solution of it.’

Larry: ‘It may be that there is no solution or it may be I’m not clever enough to find it. Ramakrishna looked upon the world as the sport of God. ‘It’s like a game,’ he said. ‘In this game there are joy and sorrow, virtue and vice, knowledge and ignorance, good and evil. The game cannot continue if sin and suffering are altogether eliminated from the creation.’ I would reject that with all my strength. The best I can suggest is that when the Absolute manifested itself in the world evil was the natural correlation of good. You could never have had the stupendous beauty of the Himalayas without the unimaginable horror of the convulsion of the earth’s crust. The Chinese craftsman who makes a vase in what they call eggshell porcelain can give it a lovely shape, ornament it with a beautiful design, stain it a ravishing colour, and give it a perfect glaze, but from its very nature he can’t make it anything but fragile. If you drop it on the floor it will break into a dozen fragments. Isn’t it possible in the same way that the values we cherish in the world can only exist in combination with evil?’

 

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