Books: Saga of a Stockbroker

NOBLE SAVAGE: THE LIFE OF PAUL GAUGUIN (299 pp.)—Lawrence & Elisabeth Hanson—Random House ($5).

Every reader of Somerset Maugham's The Moon and Sixpence knows who Eugène-Henri-Paul Gauguin was: the middle-aged Paris stockbroker who callously turned his back on business and family, fled to Tahiti and became a great painter amid the palm trees and dusky native maids. Devoted Gauguinists have damned the Maugham novel (in which the thinly disguised Gauguin is actually an Englishman named Charles Strickland) as six-pennyworth of moonshine. But they have never managed to scotch it. They never will, because the tale is essentially true.

Gauguin's latest biographers, the Hansons,...

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