The Razor's Edge is a 1944 novel by W. Somerset Maugham, about a man's journey from shallow youth, through war and depression, to self-discovery and spiritual redemption. It was adapted for the screen twice, once in a 1946 film starring Tyrone Power and again in a 1984 film starring Bill Murray.
The protagonist, Larry Darrell, starts as a materialistic and idealistic young man that volunteers for service in World War One. There he sees the death of his friends and comrades. It changes him. He comes back home with a damaged spirit, and cannot truly enjoy the party life his friends indulge in. Larry travels to Europe, taking it easy in Paris (France) for a while, later becoming a coal miner in Lens, goes to a Benedictine monastery in Bonn (Germany), and eventually ends up at monastery in India. While there, Larry has a spiritual epiphany. The remainder of the story explores his return home and the effect his spiritual insight has with his previous relationships.
This story provides examples of:
- Death of a Child: Along with her husband, what drives Sophie Nelson to depression and drink.
- Epiphany Therapy: What exactly happens to Larry in India is initially vague, but later elaborated to be a form of enlightenment.
- If I Can't Have You...: Even though Isabel broke up with Larry because he didn't want the life she wanted, she doesn't want him to be involved with anyone else, so when Larry and Sophie get together, she places temptation in front of Sophie, in the form of alcohol.
- My Greatest Failure: Larry was pretty lighthearted going into the war, but he saw things that changed him.
- No Celebrities Were Harmed: Sri Ganesha is a stand in for Ramana Maharshi.
- Scrap Heap Hero: Larry falls apart after the war, but slowly pulls himself together and overcomes it. This is the Major Arc of the films.