The Cross on the Swamp Door

A long-time fan of Robert Altman’s movie M*A*S*H, I have always wondered about the cross symbol on the door to the Swamp, as Hawkeye and Trapper nicknamed their tent. My curiosity was further piqued when I found the same symbol on the title pages of W Somerset Maugham’s books like The Summing Up and A Writer’s Notebook.

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Door to the Swamp in the movie version of M*A*S*H.

The symbol also appears in Cap Ferat alongside the gate to “the Villa La Mauresque (originally built in 1906 for King Leopold II’s father-confessor), bought by the English novelist W. Somerset Maugham in 1928, who lived there before and after World War II and until his death in 1965. The Villa is now owned by the co-founder of Microsoft, Paul Allen” (Wikipedia).

The cross is an ancient Moorish symbol that brings good luck and wards off evil, explains a real estate agent named Jenman, who uses it as a symbol for his business.

Jenman explains that Maugham’s father brought the symbol back from Africa and placed it on a home that he built in the French countryside. Maugham used the symbol on his fourth book, The Hero, which flopped, but then he realized the symbol was upside down. When he righted it, he became an immensely successful author.

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The gate at Villa La Mauresque.
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Close-Up of Cross on the La Mauresue Gate.
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Hawkeye (Donald Sutherland) meets with Father Mulcahy (Rene Auberjonois) outside the Swamp

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writer / poet / explorer

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