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Of Human Bondage, With A Digression On The Art Of Fiction: An Address

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The first and most autobiographical of Maugham's masterpieces. It is the story of Philip Carey, an orphan eager for life, love and adventure. After a few months studying in Heidelberg, and a brief spell in Paris as a would-be artist, he settles in London to train as a doctor where he meets Mildred, the loud but irresistible waitress with whom he plunges into a tortured and The first and most autobiographical of Maugham's masterpieces. It is the story of Philip Carey, an orphan eager for life, love and adventure. After a few months studying in Heidelberg, and a brief spell in Paris as a would-be artist, he settles in London to train as a doctor where he meets Mildred, the loud but irresistible waitress with whom he plunges into a tortured and masochistic affair.


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The first and most autobiographical of Maugham's masterpieces. It is the story of Philip Carey, an orphan eager for life, love and adventure. After a few months studying in Heidelberg, and a brief spell in Paris as a would-be artist, he settles in London to train as a doctor where he meets Mildred, the loud but irresistible waitress with whom he plunges into a tortured and The first and most autobiographical of Maugham's masterpieces. It is the story of Philip Carey, an orphan eager for life, love and adventure. After a few months studying in Heidelberg, and a brief spell in Paris as a would-be artist, he settles in London to train as a doctor where he meets Mildred, the loud but irresistible waitress with whom he plunges into a tortured and masochistic affair.

30 review for Of Human Bondage, With A Digression On The Art Of Fiction: An Address

  1. 5 out of 5

    Ben

    I fell in love with this book; it spoke to me, and I will aways have a strong affection for it. After three weeks of opening its pages virtually every night, I now find myself saddened that I can no longer turn to it. How can anything else compare? Of Human Bondage is a classic in every positive sense of the word. Aside from The Brothers Karamazov, it is the only book I've read, whereupon finishing, I was able to say to myself: "This novel is life itself: it contains all of its complexities, emo I fell in love with this book; it spoke to me, and I will aways have a strong affection for it. After three weeks of opening its pages virtually every night, I now find myself saddened that I can no longer turn to it. How can anything else compare? Of Human Bondage is a classic in every positive sense of the word. Aside from The Brothers Karamazov, it is the only book I've read, whereupon finishing, I was able to say to myself: "This novel is life itself: it contains all of its complexities, emotions, and meaning. Everything that you need to know about life is in this book. All that is life, is this." The main character, Philip Carrey, (who was born with a clubfoot and a taciturn temperment), is a different sort of lad; yet he manages to be understandable and human. He is intelligent and introspective, has a strong passion for the arts and adventure -- and, though he's rather introverted, even hardheaded at times -- means well and would do just about anything for his fellow human being. Being inside Philip's head and watching the ramifications of his decisions as he grows into a man, is at times harrowing; other times, vitalizing: it conjures up many emotions: the reader receives a full and enriching experience of a life truly lived. Maugham's wikipedia page is slightly critical of his writing, stating that he’s lost critical acclaim as a great author, and that few modern-day writers count him as an influence. This is sad, and upon reading it, I was both astounded and appalled, because the prose in this novel is exquisite. I was constantly swept off my feet by Maugham's ability to display the wretched and beautiful in smoothly written, truthful ways. "But he could not tell what that significance was. It was like a message which it was very important for him to receive, but it was given him in an unknown tongue, and he could not understand. He was always seeking for a meaning in life, and here it seemed to him that a meaning was offered; but it was obscure and vague. He was profoundly troubled. He saw what looked like the truth as by flashes of lightning on a dark, stormy night you might see a mountain range. He seemed to see that a man need not leave his life to chance, but that his will was powerful; he seemed to see that self-control might be as passionate and as active as the surrender to passion; he seemed to see that the inward life might be as manifold, as varied, as rich with experience, as the life of one who conquered realms and explored unknown lands." This novel had its affect on me for many different reasons, but two personal, empirical reasons quickly come to mind. One is that having had problems myself, for a period of time, due to a physical deformity of sorts, I was able to relate to Philip's embarrasment and resentment of his clubfoot, and how it affected his personality and his dealings with others. I remember thinking to myself, "How does Maugham express these emotions so perfectly? He must have had a similar experience himself." And sure enough, I later found through wikipedia (heh) that Maugham had a very serious stuttering problem that made him a bit of an outcast. The other personal, empirical reason is that for a period of time, while in college, I fell hard for a girl that had no interest in me whatsoever. I lied to myself that she liked me, I kept treating her wonderfully, and held onto – and practically lived upon -- her every word. Pathetic, really: very pathetic. Philip went through this -- more drastically, and with a much colder woman than was my college crush -- but still, it brought back memories and emotions: I could empathize: I could relate. (In fact, on a number of occasions as Philip was dealing with this, I found myself gritting my teeth and wincing.) Philip Carrey is one of only a few literary characters that I know will stay with me ten years from now; he is imprinted within me. With all of Philip's difficult experiences (and the manifold of deep emotions felt therein), Of Human Bondage is the perfect novel with relation to self discovery and growing up. In addtion, it has all the existentialism, philosophical inquiry, and ideas of a great Dostoevsky novel. The way I felt about this book can, in part, be articulated from something Philip himself said: "Partly for pleasure, because it's a habit and I'm just as uncomfortable if I don't read as if I don't smoke, and partly to know myself. When I read a book I seem to read it with my eyes only, but now and then I come across a passage, perhaps only a phrase, which has a meaning for ME, and it becomes part of me; I've got out of the book all that's any use to me, and I can't get anything more if I read it a dozen times. You see, it seems to me, one's like a closed bud, and most of what one reads and does has no effect at all; but there are certain things that have a peculiar significance for one, and they open a petal; and the petals open one by one; and at last the flower is there." I realize that in this quote Philip was speaking of specific parts of books; how certain passages and ideas stick with him over time; that they can reveal parts of himself and, in conjunction with other passages from other books, slowly unfold what life to him truly means. But you see, I feel slightly differently than Philip about this: I believe that there are individual novels out there that, when taken as a whole, can provide the reader with an overall truth about life that goes far beyond any collection of passages from various reads. These novels are so rare and special, and their affect so profound, that one is lucky to come across a few of them in the course of an entire life. And this, my friends, to me, was one of those novels.

  2. 4 out of 5

    JSou

    THIS BOOK IS ABOUT A GUY WITH A CLUBFOOT HIS GIRLFRIENDS A BITCH

  3. 5 out of 5

    Trevor

    A lot of this book is quite harrowing – you know the drill, young boy orphaned and alone in the world and being brought up by people without affection. Public school nightmares, a child with a deformity that causes him shame all his life. I was not surprised to learn that Maugham was homosexual, or bisexual, or trisexual – or whatever it was that he was. There are subtle hints to the fact throughout the book. Young Philip, the central character (rather than protagonist, I think – as there is some A lot of this book is quite harrowing – you know the drill, young boy orphaned and alone in the world and being brought up by people without affection. Public school nightmares, a child with a deformity that causes him shame all his life. I was not surprised to learn that Maugham was homosexual, or bisexual, or trisexual – or whatever it was that he was. There are subtle hints to the fact throughout the book. Young Philip, the central character (rather than protagonist, I think – as there is something of the antagonist about him too) fascinated me. His loss of faith, for example, happens so simply that it had a real ring of truth about it – much of the book is autobiographical and this seemed particularly so here – well, to me anyway. This was not always the case. There were things that happened in the book where I struggled with the suddenness of his ‘discoveries’ – where Philip finally determines the meaning of life from a Persian carpet, for example – the meaning being pretty much Nietzschean pointlessness relieved by recognising life as a work of art – seemed a little sudden for me. I tend not to have such revelational moments in my life, but I guess I should not deny them to others. His furious passion and ardent love for Mildred – a slut and callous bitch if there ever was one – is all a bit much. But if the definition of a good novel is how often it gets one to call out, “No Philip, not that!” then this is a great novel. Again, I’ve been lucky in that I’ve never loved someone completely in the way Philip does – not in a way that is insensible to how terribly they have treated me and how completely indifferent they are to me. So, perhaps, in this too, I am lesser than Philip. Maugham defined himself as ‘among the first of the second rate’ – Philip goes off to study painting in Paris and leaves when he realises he will never be more than mediocre as a painter – and the life of penury that being a painter would necessitate could hardly be justified if he was only ever going to be second rate. The question – what is art and how does one know one has the gift – is a constant theme of the early part of the book. The conclusion is hard to say – there is much talk in the book that reminds me of Wordsworth, the artist shows the world how to see and how to feel. But there is also a terrible pointlessness to art. In the end I think art isn’t what one does because what is produced is good or bad, it is what one does because there is no other choice. And for most of us there are always other choices. Repeatedly, as someone is about to die, Philip is struck by how pointless their lives have been. In the end Philip is grateful for his acceptance of the meaninglessness of his existence – which reminds me of that quote from Stendhal, “God’s only excuse is that he does not exist.” There is a terribly interesting scene towards the end of the novel where this is brought home with full power. It is a favourite ploy of the faithful to think that atheists on their death beds convert to join in hope of salvation. While his uncle is dying, and Philip has been sitting contemplating murdering the old man to relieve his own intolerable poverty, he knows the old man is almost panic stricken at the idea of losing his life. This resolves differently to how I expected – leaving room for the faithful to celebrate at the comfort their faith offers in the end – but it seems a somewhat hollow victory when their own saviour’s last words were – “Oh Father, Father, why hast thou forsaken me?” The central idea of this book is that life has no meaning – no overarching meaning – that most of life is pain and bitterness and at times punctuated by tiny moments of joy and happiness – and these ought to be accepted and celebrated equally – both the pain and the joy – as part of the tapestry of life. Love is almost impossible and is never equal – it is a sad and bitter vision. In the end the real lesson seems to be to live in the present. I would have liked to have read this book years ago, I’m terribly sorry I have only read it now for the first time – I would have liked to have read it when I was 18, when I would have had no means to understand it. I would have liked to have had it with me during darker times than this. It was quite a read and I enjoyed it, if enjoyed is at all the right word, very much.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Lisa

    I love the main character in this book so much, I was sad to say a final goodbye to him after spending 700 perfect pages with him. "Of Human Bondage" is now among my favourite books of all times, inspiring so many reflections that my copy of the book is full of scrap paper with quotes and references. Somerset Maugham explains in his introduction that he felt compelled to write down this story as it was tormenting his memory, in order to free himself from the ghosts of the past. It is not strictly I love the main character in this book so much, I was sad to say a final goodbye to him after spending 700 perfect pages with him. "Of Human Bondage" is now among my favourite books of all times, inspiring so many reflections that my copy of the book is full of scrap paper with quotes and references. Somerset Maugham explains in his introduction that he felt compelled to write down this story as it was tormenting his memory, in order to free himself from the ghosts of the past. It is not strictly autobiographical, but reflects on his experience. As a successful playwright, he must have been well acquainted with the theatre device of catharsis in the Aristotelian sense of the word, and in a way, the character of Philip Carey might have eased the author's pain and relieved him from his struggles with himself. But Philip Carey is NOT just a imaginative portrait of a specific person, he is the very essence of a questioning, searching human being, experimenting with life and its meaning. Even if Philip comes to the conclusion in the end that life has no meaning, this is not to be taken as defeat. In fact, it gives him the uttermost freedom to create his own life pattern, choosing form and colour freely and according to mood and circumstances. After Philip broke off his art studies in Paris, someone told him that those two years were "a waste of time", and Philip answered something to the effect of: "Not at all, for I have learned to see the shadow of that tree branch on the grass and the blue sky. I wouldn't have been able to see my environment without those experiences!" I find so much wisdom in that attitude. Learning to see the world more fully, and with pleasure, can never be a waste of time, just because it does not lead to a professional development. Reading "Of Human Bondage" does not help me professionally, but it makes me feel more alive. The eternal drama of desire and disappointment in love reminded me of Sartre's conception of Hell, where all characters are bound by unreciprocated desire. Somerset Maugham's outlook is somewhat less depressing, though, as life goes on and new possibilities open up all the time. In fact, the reader leaves Philip at the moment when he finally decides to get married, and anyone who has embarked on the adventure of marriage knows that the story does not end there. Somerset Maugham could easily have filled another 700 pages on Philip's accumulated experience during the first ten years of marriage and possible fatherhood, not to mention old age. I would not have wanted a sequel to this story under any circumstances, as it is perfectly complete such as it is, but the message clearly is: life goes on, it has no objective meaning, but you are in charge of creating the pattern you prefer: "Whatever happened to him now would be more motive to add to the complexity of the pattern, and when the end approached he would rejoice in its completion. It would be a work of art, and it would be none the less beautiful because he alone knew of its existence, and with his death it would at once cease to be. Philip was happy." This idea of life as a work of art, meaningless but beautiful, reminds me of Oscar Wilde, a contemporary of this novel. "All Art Is Quite Useless", he said, in full praise of the only thing that exists without any practical reason, solely for the pleasure of wit and beauty. Must-read! Love it!

  5. 5 out of 5

    Kelly

    Has one of literature's great lines about reading: "Insensibly he formed the most delightful habit in the world, the habit of reading: he did not know that thus he was providing himself with a refuge from all the distress of life; he did not know either that he was creating for himself an unreal world which would make the real world of every day a source of bitter disappointment."

  6. 5 out of 5

    Joe Valdez

    The best novel I've read that wrestles with the meaning of life was once The Razor's Edge by W. Somerset Maugham. That honor now belongs to Of Human Bondage, written by Maugham thirty-nine years earlier. This voluminous, passionate epic of ideas and expectations concerns one Philip Carey, born with a club foot in London in the 1880s as he journeys into adulthood, encumbering relationships and suspending them, searching for his calling and his own answer to the question posed by so many 20th cent The best novel I've read that wrestles with the meaning of life was once The Razor's Edge by W. Somerset Maugham. That honor now belongs to Of Human Bondage, written by Maugham thirty-nine years earlier. This voluminous, passionate epic of ideas and expectations concerns one Philip Carey, born with a club foot in London in the 1880s as he journeys into adulthood, encumbering relationships and suspending them, searching for his calling and his own answer to the question posed by so many 20th century artists, but few as eloquently as Maugham. What Is Life? Philip is introduced as a child in 1885. His father, a surgeon with a good practice, died unexpectedly of blood poisoning. He's survived by a pregnant wife in fragile health and a son, Philip. A poor manager of money, Mrs. Carey encounters more misfortune when she delivers a stillborn son and passes away. Philip's paternal uncle William, vicar of Blackstable, arrives to take custody of his nephew, raising him sixty miles from London with his wife, Louisa. The childless couple are all thumbs when it comes to parenting. The vicar is a thrifty, obtuse man while his wife suffers quietly under his lack of affection, but raise their nephew as if he was their own. Raised in the vicarage, where he bathes no more than once per week in a tub near the kitchen boiler, in the same manner his uncle, aunt and their maid Mary Ann do on opposite days of the week, Philip has few peers his own age, and grows into the solitary, often lonely life of an only child. Forbidden from playing games on Sundays and brought to tears over being assigned the memorization of collects from the prayer book, Philip is handed an illustrated book his aunt sneaks from her husband's study. A lifelong passion for books begins. One day a good fortune befell him, for he hit upon Lane's translation of The Thousand Nights and a Night. He was captured first by the illustrations, and then he began to read, to start with, the stories that dealt with magic, and then the others; and those he liked he read again and again. He could think of nothing else. He forgot the life about him. He had to be called two or three times before he would come to his dinner. Insensibly he formed the most delightful habit in the world, the habit of reading: he did not know that thus he was providing himself with a refuge from all the distress of life; he did not know either that he was creating for himself an unreal world which would make the real world of the every day a source of bitter disappointment. Presently he began to read other things. His brain was precocious. His uncle and aunt, seeing that he occupied himself and neither worried nor made a noise, ceased to trouble themselves about him. Mr. Carey had so many books that he did not know them, and as he read little he forgot the odd lots he had bought at one time and another because they were cheap. Haphazard among the sermons and homilies, the travels, the lives of the Saints, the Fathers, the histories of the church, were old-fashioned novels; and these Philip at last discovered. He chose them by their titles, and the first he read was The Lancashire Witches, and then he read The Admirable Crichton, and then many more. Whenever he started a book with two solitary travelers riding along the brink of a desperate ravine he knew he was safe. At the age of nine, Philip is sent to King's School at Tercanbury, where the neighboring clergy send their sons for their primary education. His club foot rules him out of sports and is often made a target of ridicule among the other boys, but even after his deformity is accepted and ignored, it remains a source of sensitivity for him. Accepting everything he reads, Philip believes the Bible and becomes a devout boy. Assured by his uncle and others that the power of faith can move mountains, Philip prays for God to give him a normal foot. The lack of results leads Philip to question for the first time what he's read or been told. Philip develops a cutting sense of humor and is ultimately befriended by a boy named Rose whose attention flatters Philip and before leading to jealousy. When Rose abandons Philip for a new best friend, Philip loses all interest in school or sours on a scholarship to Oxford. He announces his desire to study in Germany and resisting all attempts by adults to sway Philip to finish one thing before he starts another, the boy eventually gets his wish. A friend of his aunt's recommends a boarding house in Heidelberg run by a professor. In Heidelberg, free to rise and study at his leisure, Philip learns some German, a bit of French but is mostly schooled by the personalities of the boarders he meets. An Englishman named Hayward is son of a county judge; a lover of literature and Roman Catholicism, he's an idealist, and recommends many books to his new acolyte, which Philip devours. An American philosophy student named Weeks sees Hayward less as a poet and more of a waster, and with deliberate self-assurance, calls the Englishman out on his inconsistencies during their fireside chats. Philip continues his education. One of the things that Philip had heard definitely stated was the the unbeliever was a wicked and vicious man; but Weeks, though he believed in hardly anything that Philip believed, led a life of Christian purity. Philip had received little kindness in his life, and he was touched by the American's desire to help him: once when a cold kept him in bed for three days, Weeks nursed him like a mother. there was neither vice nor wickedness in him, but only sincerity and loving-kindness. It was evidently possible to be virtuous and unbelieving. Returning to Blackstable after three months, Philip meets Miss Wilkinson, daughter of his uncle's last rector, whose exact age becomes a frustrating riddle to the boy as he becomes taken with her. Having worked as a governess in Berlin and Paris, Miss Wilkinson thrills Philip with her tales of being seduced by an art student in the City of Lights. Philip sets his mind to seducing the older woman. As for his future, Philip sits on a meager fortune of only two thousand pounds, and eager to go to London, it is recommended by the family lawyer that Philip apprentice as a chartered accountant. Philip greets loneliness in London and what at that time, seems like misery. Socializing with few people other than his fellow clerks, he's bored to death by the work. He begins making sketches on company stationary to pass the time and while a career in accounting begins to look dim, he's compelled by Hayward to devote his life to the only two things that matter: love and art. The idea grabs hold of Philip and when his apprenticeship at the accounting firm expires, he bucks the expectations of his uncle and with some financial assistance from his aunt, is off on his next great adventure: studying art in Paris. As in his last foreign experience, Philip falls in immediately with his fellow students in Paris. He grows close with a conceited, disagreeable art student named Fanny Price. Philip finds her paintings atrocious and her hygiene nearly as bad, while her poorly communicated affections for him grow. Philip wonders whether he has what it takes to be a successful artist and falls under the spell of a penniless drunk and writer named Cronshaw who the art students tell knew all the greats. Cronshaw tells Philip where he can find the answers to all his questions. "Have you ever been to the Cluny, the museum? There you will see Persian carpets of the most exquisite hue and of a pattern the beautiful intricacy of which delights and amazes the eye. In them you will see the mystery and the sensual beauty of the East, the roses of Hafiz and the wine-cup of Omar; but presently you will see more. You were asking just now what was the meaning of life. Go and look at those Persian carpets, and one of these days the answer will come to you." "You are cryptic," said Philip. "I am drunk," answered Cronshaw. W. Somerset Maugham saw Of Human Bondage published in 1915, but if fleeting mention of year was redacted within the novel, it would be impossible to determine whether his story takes place in 1900, 1950 or 2000. The book is completely devoid of trends, fashions or popular culture and is more passionate, witty and vivacious for it. Edith Wharton is one of my favorite authors, but even with her I feel claustrophobia of the early 20th century, as if squeezed inside an hour glass and being smothered. Maugham transcends era. He could be writing about characters and conversations taking place at the corner coffeehouse. His wisdom is nearly as impressive as his language. It is a mixed lot which enters upon the medical profession, and naturally there are some who are lazy and reckless. They think it is an easy life, idle away a couple of years; and then, because their funds come to an end or because angry parents refuse any longer to support them, drift away from the hospital. Others find the examinations too hard for them; one failure after another robs them of their nerve; and, panic-stricken, they forget as soon as they come into the forbidding buildings of the Conjoint Board the knowledge which before they had so pat. They remain year after year, objects of good-humoured scorn to younger men: some of them crawl through the examination of the Apothecaries' Hall; others become non-qualified assistants, a precarious position in which they are at the mercy of their employer; their lot is poverty, drunkenness, and Heaven only knows their end. Of Human Bondage is a thick novel, but a thrilling one. Maugham is a storyteller, first and foremost. He introduces one of the great villains of literature in Mildred Rogers, an ice queen Philip becomes inexplicably enamored with in London and is nearly destroyed by in a manner I found too familar. Likewise the charismatic friends who come and go, the aunt who loves more than is loved, the dead end job, the family member on their death bed, I recognized from my own life. Maugham takes the reader on a search for the meaning of life but does so without peddling hokey sermons. Instead, before there were even such a thing as documentaries, he structures the novel like one, focusing on a boy as he moves through childhood and into adulthood. There are many stops along the way and times I expected the novel to settle down, kick up its feet and explore one relationship, or one travelogue, all the way through. Instead, the story moves on, just like a life.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Jasmine

    I am sure you will agree with me that there are books one is better off reading when one is older and more experienced. On the other hand, there are also books one should have read 20 years earlier. For me personally, ‘Of Human Bondage’ belongs to the latter category. It had been gathering dust on my father’s bookshelf for years (in German translation) and I never thought about it. To tell you the truth, this book crossed my path again because of ‘The Goldfinch’, an impressive Pulitzer-winning B I am sure you will agree with me that there are books one is better off reading when one is older and more experienced. On the other hand, there are also books one should have read 20 years earlier. For me personally, ‘Of Human Bondage’ belongs to the latter category. It had been gathering dust on my father’s bookshelf for years (in German translation) and I never thought about it. To tell you the truth, this book crossed my path again because of ‘The Goldfinch’, an impressive Pulitzer-winning Bildungsroman and one of my favorite books. I was looking for another Bildungsroman when I came across ‘Of Human Bondage’ again. ‘Of Human Bondage’ by Somerset W. Maugham is a classical Bildungsroman – a coming of age story, published almost 100 years ago. While reading it, I continually had to remind myself that the book is actually 100 years old. A lot of Philip’s thoughts seemed so very modern to me that I often forgot when Maugham actually wrote them. This is the story of Philip Carey, who loses his parents in early childhood. As a reader, we witness his life from early childhood until his thirties. Even though it is a third person omniscient narrative, the reader is very deeply involved in Philip’s thoughts. I read a large part of the book over the Easter holidays and was so deeply immersed in the story that Philip became almost real for me. This happens to me very rarely with a book. It is that childlike state when you forget everything around you and reality and fiction merge into one. Of course, as in every good Bildungsroman Philip spends most of the book struggling with life’s challenges. More than once I wanted to take him under my motherly wing as he attempted to deal with religious beliefs, hindrances and, especially, relationships with women. Philip is an aesthete and a lover of literature. His love for books, literature and art comes across throughout the book and adds to the quality of storytelling:“And then beautiful things grow rich with the emotion that they have aroused in succeeding generations. That is why old things are more beautiful than modern. The “Ode on a Grecian Urn” is more lovely now than when it was written, because for a hundred years lovers have read it and the sick at heart take comfort in its lines.”(p.281) Maugham’s rich descriptions of paintings and art in general are especially evident when his protagonist reflects on El Greco’s paintings. El Greco’s artwork used to make me feel rather uncomfortable and I was not a fan of his gloomy brushstrokes, but through Philip’s reflections Maugham opened my eyes. “El Greco was the painter of the soul; and these gentlemen, wan and wasted, not by exhaustion but by restraint, with their tortured minds, seem to walk unaware of the beauty of the world; for their eyes look only in their hearts, and they are dazzled by the glory of the unseen. No painter has shown more pitilessly that the world is but a place of passage. The souls of the men he painted speak their strange longings through their eyes; their senses are miraculously acute, not for sounds and odours and colour, but for the very subtle sensations of the soul. The noble walks with the monkish heart within him, and his eyes see things which saints in their cells see too, and he is unastounded. His lips are not lips that smile.” (p.397) El Greco,1595: Study of a Man The reader accompanies Philip on his stays in Heidelberg, London and especially Paris where he enrolls in art school, convinced of his abilities as a painter. I particularly enjoyed this part of the book, when Maugham gives the reader a fascinating insight into the bohemian lifestyle of the Belle Époque. Paris and its smell, colors, people and lifestyles come alive before the reader’s eyes. ‘Of Human Bondage’ is said to be Maugham’s semi-biographical novel and I would recommend every reader to look up the writer’s life before or while reading the book. With this in mind, I was especially astonished by Philip’s relationships with women. Philip is in pursuit of beauty, but not when it comes to women. Women are either anemic, have narrow pale lips, greenish skin (!) and are flat-chested like a boy, or they are large and unsophisticated. Not very attractive, I would say. By comparison, Griffith, one of Philip’s fellow students, is described as a “tall fellow, with a quantity of curly red hair and blue eyes, a white skin, and a very red mouth”and Maugham writes that "There was a peculiar charm in his manner, a mingling of gravity and kindliness which was infinitely attractive”. Maybe I am biased, knowing that Maugham’s sexual preference was for men rather than women, but I wonder if the reader of 90 years ago picked up these hints. That said, Philip’s relationship with Mildred (best known for its film adaption with Bette Davies in 1934), a vulgar, unworldly teashop girl he encounters during his medicine studies in London, tops everything. It is almost unbearable to read how he submits to her, how he let himself be humiliated by her. "He did not care if she was heartless, vicious and vulgar, stupid and grasping, he loved her. He would rather have misery with one than happiness with the other.”(p.308). Every time Mildred appeared in the story, my stomach literally twisted in knots. I must admit that even though these scenes are an important part of the plot and constitute the main storyline in the aforementioned film adaptation, I found it very hard to endure them. However, they are an essential part of Philip’s personal development. Philip is a complex character. Born with a clubfoot, he always felt self-conscious. He is shy and overly sensitive. He blushes a lot (I counted 30 times). Nevertheless, he endures humiliation with a stoic steadiness. In the meantime he is often condescending. He is aware of his intellectual superiority to Mildred. As a connoisseur of literature and art, he even feels superior to his peers at Medical School. Notwithstanding his flaws, I like Philip very much. In real life as well as in literature I have a soft spot for people who are in pursuit of beautiful things, who love literature and art. Philip is a keen observer of human behavior, both that of his entourage and his own. His train of thought, his self-exploration and subsequent conclusions on religion, philosophy and the meaning of life come easily and straightforwardly to the reader. In my opinion this is Maugham’s forte: the examination of ideas in moral terms and his portrayal of the meaning of life and religion through Philip’s eyes. The writing style is rather simple; nothing remains of the flowery or verbose prose of the Victorians (which I love by the way!). Nonetheless, the writing is powerful; it has stayed with me long after I have finished the book. As I have already said, I wish I had read ‘Of Human Bondage’ 20 years earlier. It is certainly a book to encourage younger people to find their place in life. But even 20 years ‘too late’, the book has the power to evoke a variety of strong emotions. Why is this? Maugham provides an answer through Philip: "When I read a book I seem to read it with my eyes only, but now and then I come across a passage, perhaps only a phrase, which has a meaning for me, and it becomes part of me...” (p.292) ‘Of Human Bondage’ did this to me.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Carol

    What is the meaning of life? Well, the answer seems to be hidden in a scrap of Persian rug.This is the story of an unforgettable fictional "character" named Philip Carey and his extremely tumultuous and tormented life from age 9 thru 30.Poor Philip is only nine years of age when his beloved mother dies in childbirth and he is sent off to the vicarage to live with his strict, overbearing Uncle William and loving Aunt Louisa. Born with a club-foot and small for his age, Philip is shy and embarrass What is the meaning of life? Well, the answer seems to be hidden in a scrap of Persian rug.This is the story of an unforgettable fictional "character" named Philip Carey and his extremely tumultuous and tormented life from age 9 thru 30.Poor Philip is only nine years of age when his beloved mother dies in childbirth and he is sent off to the vicarage to live with his strict, overbearing Uncle William and loving Aunt Louisa. Born with a club-foot and small for his age, Philip is shy and embarrassed by his deformity and is often lonely and pegged an outcast.In his search for freedom and affection, OF HUMAN BONDAGE descriptively depicts Philip's various vocations, friendships, precarious love life and education.....as well as his love of books. "Insensibly he formed the most delightful habit in the world, the habit of reading: he did not know that thus he was providing himself with a refuge from all the distress of life; he did not know either that he was creating for himself an unreal world which would make the real world of every day a source of bitter disappointment." Throughout the reading of this complex semi-autobiographical novel, I often became so frustrated with Philip that I just wanted to shake his obsession with the vile, grungy waitress Mildred right out of him! OMGOSH.....he was so gullible and indecisive, it drove me crazy......BUT he was also a kind, likeable "character" generous to an indescribable fault, good-hearted and most of all......willing to forgive.Originally published in 1915, this memorable classic is one hell of an "intimate tale of human relationships." What a story!

  9. 4 out of 5

    Jenn(ifer)

    The following is American Idol judge Nicki Minaj's critique of Of Human Bondage Hello darling. You know that I'm completely obsessed with you right now. I just want to say first of awll that your mustache is very becoming. And that ascot gets me really hot and bothered. It totally Does! I'll be honest with you sweetie, it makes me think very naughty thoughts. Now listen darling, I have 4 words for you: This book is everything ! Seriously, sweetie, it's on another lev-el. It's completely beyond. Y The following is American Idol judge Nicki Minaj's critique of Of Human Bondage Hello darling. You know that I'm completely obsessed with you right now. I just want to say first of awll that your mustache is very becoming. And that ascot gets me really hot and bothered. It totally Does! I'll be honest with you sweetie, it makes me think very naughty thoughts. Now listen darling, I have 4 words for you: This book is everything ! Seriously, sweetie, it's on another lev-el. It's completely beyond. Your writing is so rich, it's like a big heap of chocolate mousse cake. I want to drown it in fudge sauce and eat the whole thing UP! I didn't even mind the length because the story and the characters just drew me in. (don't listen to them sweetie, size does matter). I can't wait to see what you give us next week, baby love. You just keep doin what you do.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Ahmad Sharabiani

    741. Of Human Bondage, William Somerset Maugham Of Human Bondage is a 1915 novel by William Somerset Maugham. The book begins with the death of Helen Carey, the much beloved mother of nine-year-old Philip Carey. Philip has a club foot and his father had died a few months before. Now orphaned, he is sent to live with his aunt and uncle, Louisa and William Carey. ... عنوانها: پای بندی های انسانی؛ اسارت بشر؛ اسارت بشری؛ نویسنده: ویلیام سامرست موام؛ (نشر چشمه)، تاریخ نخستین خوانش: روز بیست و هفتم ماه 741. Of Human Bondage, William Somerset Maugham Of Human Bondage is a 1915 novel by William Somerset Maugham. The book begins with the death of Helen Carey, the much beloved mother of nine-year-old Philip Carey. Philip has a club foot and his father had died a few months before. Now orphaned, he is sent to live with his aunt and uncle, Louisa and William Carey. ... عنوانها: پای بندی های انسانی؛ اسارت بشر؛ اسارت بشری؛ نویسنده: ویلیام سامرست موام؛ (نشر چشمه)، تاریخ نخستین خوانش: روز بیست و هفتم ماه فوریه سال 1999 میلادی کتاب «پای‌بندی‌های انسانی» اتوبیوگرافی نیست، اما داستانی به گونه‌ ی اتوبیوگرافی است؛ حقایق و افسانه به‌ طور جدایی ناپذیری در هم آمیخته شده‌ اند. نقل از کتاب: احساسات از آن خودم است، اما نه تمامی آن رویدادهای اتفاق افتاده‌ ای که، به توصیف آمده است. بعضی از آن‌ها، نه از زندگی خودم که به قهرمان داستان انتقال یافته، بلکه از زندگی کسانی است، که با آنان صمیمی و نزدیک بوده‌ ام. کتاب همان شد که من خواسته بودم، و هنگامی عرضه شد، که دنیا دست به گریبان جنگی وحشت‌ آفرین، و سر در گریبان رنج‌ها و بیم‌ها نهاده بود، و نمی‌توانست به سرگذشت یک شخصیت داستانی، توجهی مبذول دارد. آنگاه بود که خودم را از فشار درد و ناشادی خاطرات، و یادهایی که شکنجه‌ ام می‌دادند رهایی یافتم. سامرست موآم عشق واقعی عشق یک طرفه است بدون هیچ چشم داشت و پاداشی. سامرست موآم ا. شربیانی

  11. 4 out of 5

    Dolors

    This is a masterful novel, the kind of work that reaches philosophical dimension without being one bit pretentious neither in ambition nor in execution. A story of personal growth, of the meandering paths a young man needs to take, getting astray, losing his way, only to find his own tracks again to walk towards a meaningful end. Because this is what this book is about: finding the meaning of life, the random patterns that compose the texture of happiness, of fulfillment. Philip Carey could be t This is a masterful novel, the kind of work that reaches philosophical dimension without being one bit pretentious neither in ambition nor in execution. A story of personal growth, of the meandering paths a young man needs to take, getting astray, losing his way, only to find his own tracks again to walk towards a meaningful end. Because this is what this book is about: finding the meaning of life, the random patterns that compose the texture of happiness, of fulfillment. Philip Carey could be the protagonist of a Charles Dickens’ tale; insecure, with a club foot and orphaned at an early age, he is left under the care of his stingy uncle and becomes a rather shy but highly sensitive boy. Defying his uncle and escaping from his aspirations to follow his steps and become a rural parson, Philip flees first to Germany and then to Paris pursuing a career as a painter. Art in multiple forms is ever present in the novel, offering a counterpoint to the more mundane occupations that provide a salary to Philip, and presenting the reader with the eternal dilemma of choosing between unprofitable vocation and colorless profession. Nevertheless, the cornerstone of the novel revolves around the idea of desire and its dangerous tangent to obsession, presented almost in Proustian fashion. The irresistible and almost irrational bondage that Philip feels for an unremarkable waitress that brings him to total submission, close to self-destruction, serves to illustrate Maugham’s bigger picture; that of a human condition that makes little sense, of love that grows with suffering, of a life that allows degrading jobs, random sickness, cruel poverty, of women’s plights in a man’s world and the futility of aesthetics, of beauty, when hunger pierces body and soul. Not only a coming of age story, “Of human bondage” combines the narrative clarity of a classic and the philosophical depth of a modern novel, shining with all the virtues of a rare work of art. Beauty is to be found in ourselves, and Philip’s journey will finally reveal that happiness does not only exist in the abstract, it is within one’s reach, if only we are brave enough to grasp it, and hold it tight, no matter what. And I have to say that, after my own ramblings, Philip’s concept of happiness, and I wonder if also Maugham’s, is very close to my own.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Paul

    This book grew on me; it sort of seeps into you. Maugham is a good story teller and his characters are drawn well. It is a story of obsession, desire and yearning for something beyond the ordinary run of life. The hero, Philip Carey is not a conventional hero; he has a difficult childhood, a club foot which deeply affects him, he's awkward and often uncomfortable with people. We follow Philip from childhood, the death of his parents, living with his very religious aunt and uncle, boarding school This book grew on me; it sort of seeps into you. Maugham is a good story teller and his characters are drawn well. It is a story of obsession, desire and yearning for something beyond the ordinary run of life. The hero, Philip Carey is not a conventional hero; he has a difficult childhood, a club foot which deeply affects him, he's awkward and often uncomfortable with people. We follow Philip from childhood, the death of his parents, living with his very religious aunt and uncle, boarding school, his attempts at jobs, Paris trying to be an artist, studying medicine, poverty and back to medicine. Interspersed are friendships, relationships with women and especially the intense and doomed relationship with Mildred which dominates the second half of the book. The 1934 film had Bette Davis as Mildred; wonderful piece of casting. There is a slightly awkward ending which I found satisfying and unsatisfying at the same time. So why did the book strike a chord with me? Mainly because I identified so much with Philip Carey. I wasn't orphaned, but there was the intensely religious upbringing. Then, more importantly, there was Philip's club foot which blighted his school days; children are cruel; I have a disability which affects the way I walk (I stand out) and made school grim hell. Philip used reading to escape; as I did and many others do. Our career paths were different, apart from a period of unemployment; but there was a realisation that ultimately the negativity could either destroy one, or it could be turned to positivity and empathy for the pain and suffering of others. Philip survives and becomes stronger. Of course, Philip also falls in love with or becomes involved with totally inappropriate women; not, of course that I've ever done that (Ha!). There is a redemptive theme running through, although Philip loses his religious beliefs. This is a powerful novel and is well worth the effort.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Perry

    MISOGYNE BONDAGE First from Maugham's Self-Loathing, Chauvinistic Closet Before discussing the title, my thoughts on this superb 1915 novel: Reading it was a strain, slow-moving until the protagonist Philip Carey went to Paris to study art, after which I found it fascinating, then infuriating and ultimately affirming. That is to say, I loved the parts about art and Paris and his relationship with Fanny Price, the poor and talentless soul who committed suicide; I detested his main love interest (a u MISOGYNE BONDAGE First from Maugham's Self-Loathing, Chauvinistic Closet Before discussing the title, my thoughts on this superb 1915 novel: Reading it was a strain, slow-moving until the protagonist Philip Carey went to Paris to study art, after which I found it fascinating, then infuriating and ultimately affirming. That is to say, I loved the parts about art and Paris and his relationship with Fanny Price, the poor and talentless soul who committed suicide; I detested his main love interest (a unilateral infatuation of the first degree) in Mildred Rogers, the Cockney waitress who used and abused him without pity, and his pathetic lapses into co-dependency on her. Thus, I was heartened by Philip's ability to finally escape the chains of fear and self-hatred caused by losing his parents young, having a clubfoot and being attached by "love" to an awful leach. Now, to misogyne bondage: The enterprise of comparing this novel with his other three major novels, The Painted Veil, The Moon and Sixpence and The Razor's Edge, as well as his most acclaimed short story, "Rain," has been terribly illuminating. As I contemplated, I saw a peculiar pattern in Maugham's female leads (in these works, at least) and was reminded of an essay by Christopher Hitchens that I read in his brilliant collection Arguably: Selected Essays, in which Hitchens reviewed the Maugham biography Somerset Maugham: A Life, by Jeffrey Meyers. See C. Hitchens, "W. Somerset Maugham: Poor Old Willie," The Atlantic, May 2004. After re-reading this essay and traveling back through my memory of the four novels and short story, I am convinced that Maugham was a misogynist sparked by his self-loathing as a closeted homosexual. Consider first, “Maugham worked assiduously to create a persona for himself in life. And the life was, according to this admirable biography, a good deal more exquisite, dramatic, torrid, and tragic than any of the works. Born and brought up in France, Maugham lost his parents when quite young and from then on was farmed out to mean relatives and cruel, monastic boarding schools. The traditional ration of bullying, beating, and buggery seems to have been unusually effective in his case, leaving him with a frightful lifelong speech impediment and a staunch commitment to homosexuality.” *** “An ideal way to “lock in” homosexual disposition is probably to spend time as a gynecologist in a slum district of London—which, astonishingly enough, is what the fastidious young man did. Though he would ultimately abandon medicine, he passed considerable time delivering babies in the abysmal squalor of Lambeth, on the south bank of the River Thames. As part of his training he witnessed cesarean births in the hospital, where death was not uncommon.” C. Hitchens, "Poor Old Willie," supra. Reviewing each of his four major novels and his most renowned short story, one is struck by the common thread: the females are all weak, wanton and/or wicked. These women are the type of which George Bernard Shaw so mordantly quipped in his play, "Mrs. Warren's Profession": "She may be a good sort but she is a bad lot." Mildred Rogers and Fanny Price (who only appeared briefly) from the instant novel are discussed above. In the short story, "Rain" (1921), the prostitute Sadie Thompson is violated by a missionary intent upon saving her soul and after finding the missionary dead from suicide, the narrator observes that Sadie has returned to "the flaunting quean" they had first known when coming to American Samoa. "Quean" means "a low woman; a wench; a slut." In The Razor's Edge (1944), Sophie Macdonald, a childhood friend of the protagonist Larry Darrell, becomes an alcoholic, opium addicted "slut" after losing her husband and child to a tragic car accident. On the eve of the wedding of Larry and Sophie (whom he's trying to save from a life of debauchery), Larry's pre-war girlfriend, the wealthy, wicked Isabel (who wants Larry for herself), leads a sober, fragile Sophie back to the path of destruction by effectively handing her a bottle of expensive vodka. In The Moon and Sixpence (1919), Blanche Stroeve, wife of a Dutch painter who is a friendly comrade of the Gaugin-based antihero, abandons her husband for "Gaugin," who quickly casts her aside once she's served her purpose as a model and short-term concubine, after which she kills herself. Finally, in The Painted Veil (1925), Kitty Garstin Fane, the heroine, is a flighty and self-centered "low woman" who, shortly after marrying Dr. Fane, embarks upon a lurid, torrid affair lasting two years and only laughs when initially faced with Dr. Fane finding out. Notably, this is my favorite Maugham novel, probably because he gives Kitty redemption. While this may seem the exception to my thesis, I'd point out that Kitty is like the others in her sexual promiscuity, a trait that seems particularly deplorable to misogynists. Does this take away from the brilliance of Maugham's works or mean that he doesn't remain on my list of favorite authors? No. But, I do believe that being forced by then-existing societal norms to hide his homosexuality significantly contributed to his self-loathing, in turn leading to his negative outlook toward women. Were our culture more advanced, as it is now progressing, maybe Maugham would not have felt compelled to conceal his sexual preference and would not have been so fundamentally adverse to females and, as a consequence, might have been more kind to the superior sex (IMHO) and penned novels with more positive female characters or at least given his seriously damaged female characters more redeeming arcs, such as he did in The Painted Veil. I don't do this for a living so I cannot afford to spend any more time revising or cleaning up this review, so please forgive any errors or if I have offended anyone.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Mariel

    Of Human Bondage used to be under my (re)tired "waiting-until-I'm-not-too-depressed" shelf on goodreads (it had no company. What's the time before birth? I'm gonna say purgatory anyway). Yeah, right. Jump, Mariel, jump! I'm glad it is out of the way. It's the uncomfortable conversations like religious people might feel if they are unstable in faith. The glimpses when someone points out to you a fact (weeeelll) about yourself that pulls off every straggled hair as it is yanked off. I started read Of Human Bondage used to be under my (re)tired "waiting-until-I'm-not-too-depressed" shelf on goodreads (it had no company. What's the time before birth? I'm gonna say purgatory anyway). Yeah, right. Jump, Mariel, jump! I'm glad it is out of the way. It's the uncomfortable conversations like religious people might feel if they are unstable in faith. The glimpses when someone points out to you a fact (weeeelll) about yourself that pulls off every straggled hair as it is yanked off. I started reading Of Human Bondage after getting dumped by my friend of many years (I'm "too dark"). All things considering, a stupid book choice on my part, if I didn't want to be reminded of these exact type of conversations. Of Human Bondage is a before the dust settles life part story of Phillip. I'd say it is not much a life story as a whole lot of those conversations that look big and mean a lot of things, and at the same time sound big to beat you down. Like when Phillip wonders if thinking ever helped anyone out when they needed it? Backstory! Subtext! Okay, here's some text: My friend told me I waste my life reading books. Fiction is pointless. Those conversations might have SOME point. They aren't the whole point. That gets in the way of living, when those ideas beat down. I don't want to be beaten down. God, I really don't. What was it that M. Ward said about if life is short then why are the nights so long? Paragraph break. My eyes would glaze over that much of me babbling. Phillip comes to the realization that life has no meaning. Everyone dies. If you can't be great, why bother? Okay, so stories are not real. But what the hell is? Is love real? Imagined, built up, analyzed interactions. Memories don't match. Life then gets rewritten in that hindsight. I comfort myself that nothing I do matters. It's how I can bully myself to carry on despite my intense stupidity. I don't understand much and sometimes this is really painful. (I say this a lot because it is my recurring nightmare.) So what? That's not gonna change. Stories are where it's surprise and multi sided relationships all in one's own brain. The best part? A surprising brain of your own. Of Human Bondage makes me feel my "But that's all wrong!" and crying out in frustration and misunderstanding when confronted with those beat down conversations. That it isn't forever is how I can carry on. What it means to me, and it doesn't matter if I can give back anything worth as much... Yeah, stories. To be honest? I was a little lost when the ideals were really entitlement. Wrong foot... I hated Phillip sometimes. I related to Phillip too much sometimes too. He's a quitter like me. His life's work was all along his introspection. His pitying and self satisfied (mostly in pity) inner life. How could he have missed that he only wanted Mildred because she had rejected him? C'mon, Phillip, even I would have seen that. The side of Phillip that thinks more about how good he could look making love instead of just making love... Frustrating, indeed. Mildred is too pathetic for me to hate. She's just drifting between thoughtless passions. I'd hate her if I had it in me to hate people who picked on me in junior high. I'm needing more than that these days... Mildred is the void that is no stories. Yet she remembers everything about her dreams... Pretty much the only interesting thing about her. It isn't like he didn't KNOW that. She's not even an adult. How could one ever have a relationship with her? Or expect to? Phillip's ideal was someone beautiful. (Sorry to anyone who hasn't read Lanark! [If you haven't, it's really good.] This relationship made me feel exactly like that. So what? It is your own damned fault.) I'm not inclined to feel that bad for a guy who doesn't try to take a bit more than that looks thing. (Sally reminded me of Mildred with the "If you like" and passiveness, anyway. If she despised Phillip she'd be better off with him. That creeps me out.) Take more! If you can't know how anyone else feels anyway, if you're going to be trapped in your own head... Make that space richer? Miss Price killed me. Starvation suicide... Phillip's disgust towards her, his impatience with her affection... I mean, he's the same to these other women like Miss Price and Norah that Mildred was to him. Why his Mildred is a bitch talk and poor me didn't get what I deserved? What the hell is deserved? Sometimes I worry that I'm like a sociopath who cannot fake human emotions when it comes to romance and religion. I just couldn't feel sorry for Phillip when it came to his "ideals" (coughs entitlement coughs) of perfect beauty. (By that token, he didn't "deserve" love because of his club foot.) It isn't about who deserves what. You take what the hell you can get if you can, I say. I don't know what it is like to lose that because I never had it. Entitlement. I don't want to stop caring. Sad sigh. I felt a lot of things from this book... I just wish they were the sustaining kind that I'd drink from in my camel's hunch back huddled up for sanctuary. I said this already... It's that "But you're wrong! You HAVE to be wrong!" conversation interlude outside of life that almost sounds like it is getting somewhere and probably really isn't. I know what I can't live without... I marked off so many passages for future reference. I will probably look them over in the future when I miss having someone to piss me off with being wrong that my life in my head from books is meaningless. Life outside too. There were many jumping off points for inspiration. I'm going to have frames of reference. I guess that's what Phillip had from his own life of introspection. He's too much like me and I don't like me. My favorite part of Of Human Bondage is when young Phillip gets into the picture books. He stares and imagines and goes to places. I can get that retreat. It was the sensitive like feeling attuned instead of his quick to offense that I relate to entirely too much (on my worst days). Phillip's sweet moments when he feels sensitive. Maybe he likes himself for being sensitive. I don't care about that. I like looking beyond that shitty layers and can feel embarrassed, pained... He's at best when no one wants anything from him. Knowing what to do is really hard. Phillip would be a really good friend to have if he were in a book... And not the parts that were me. P.s. Damn. Why'd I have to write a review of this before bed time? I'm upset.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Luís C.

    Of Human Bondage is the Bildungsroman or the new-beginning novel of W. Somerset Maugham at the time, a work that is part of a long and distinguished line of such whose origin is in Germany which that debut training appeared in the eighteenth century. Philip is an orphan and lives in the presbytery with his uncle reverend and his aunt remained childless; life is very austere. He is sent to a religious boarding school where he learns the maliciousness of his schoolfellows that attracts his clubfoot Of Human Bondage is the Bildungsroman or the new-beginning novel of W. Somerset Maugham at the time, a work that is part of a long and distinguished line of such whose origin is in Germany which that debut training appeared in the eighteenth century. Philip is an orphan and lives in the presbytery with his uncle reverend and his aunt remained childless; life is very austere. He is sent to a religious boarding school where he learns the maliciousness of his schoolfellows that attracts his clubfoot, school friendships very ephemeral, stifling conformism, prejudice and servitude that teachers demand as a tribute to their authority. A gifted and intelligent pupil, he refused, however, to pursue his studies at Oxford, which would open him the career of a pastor whom their tutors call for. It is to see the world he wants and to live his life. Thus he went to Germany in a pension in Heidelberg, an important place in his intellectual and ethical formation. He realized, astonished, that he no longer believed in God. Returning to England, he experienced his first emotions in love, and embarked on the fray in London, where he rapidly deceived, his place as an apprentice in an accounting firm, and the isolation of the suburbs. Feeling artistic disposition, it was in Paris, in spite of the reluctance of his uncle, that he went to study painting. It is in a city with a creativity and artistic attractiveness that it happens: Paris lives at the time of the innovations of the impressionists, Philip feels transported there: finally the great life, the freedom of the rapins, it thinks of being able to make its place. The encounters that he makes there complete his education, he will gain freedom of mind, but must resign himself to the evidence: he will not be a painter. He resolved to follow the paternal example and returned to London to study medicine. Then he madly falls in love with a tea-room waitress of a rather vulgar conformism who has no use for him, this complex attraction made of contempt and sensual attraction, a passion without hope whose impetuous impulses are not rewarded only by vilest ignominy, is another aspect of these enslavements of which he must make the bitter experience. Haphazard placements make him swing and compel him to endure the yoke of a stunning and uninteresting job: calico for a magazine of novelties. But a happy and healthy friendship is offered to him: a man at first jovial and pleasant commerce within his large family will bring him the comfort of the family that he hardly had and finally love. The simple joys quickly forgotten, the gradual loss of innocence to enthusiasms force too quickly cooled, bitter disappointments, the discovery of the discrepancy between the ideal and reality, the will to give a rule of life and meaning to the latter for to perceive that all is vanity, these are some of the obligatory and painful steps by which Philip must pass to arrive at his full maturity. This novel with a strong autobiographical content, proposes beautiful pages on art and painting, notably concerning Le Greco; I especially appreciated the painting he made there of the bohemian Paris, the licentious and hard life of apprentices painters. Of Human Bondage is a true classic in the noble sense of the term: beautiful, hard, exciting, we plunge in eagerly to emerge moved and somewhere transformed.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Rowena

    This was my first Maugham book and I'm very glad I was recommended it. The story was essentially the coming of age story of an orphaned boy who was born with a clubfoot.He tries to find himself in many different ways and places; in Germany, in Paris, in London etc. I loved the parts of the novel which dealt with the Bohemian lifestyle in Paris. It was basically the stereotypical image one gets when imagining poor, struggling, artists. The characters I met in this section were among my favourites This was my first Maugham book and I'm very glad I was recommended it. The story was essentially the coming of age story of an orphaned boy who was born with a clubfoot.He tries to find himself in many different ways and places; in Germany, in Paris, in London etc. I loved the parts of the novel which dealt with the Bohemian lifestyle in Paris. It was basically the stereotypical image one gets when imagining poor, struggling, artists. The characters I met in this section were among my favourites in the whole book. The book deals with many issues, for example loss of faith, youth trying to discover their destiny, love (Phillip's love for the cruel and selfish Mildred was very obsessive, moreso than I expected), lost dreams, philosophy etc. I quite liked the protagonist, Phillip. I did find him quite naive at times but I liked his introspective nature and his artistic temperament. I can definitely see why so many people feel they can relate to him.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Jason Koivu

    I had no idea what Of Human Bondage was about going in. I'd heard vague, unreliable rumors and I expected a dense, difficult read, perhaps a philosophical mind-bender or hell, by the title and date of its publication (1914) I wouldn't have been terribly surprised if it turned out to be a naughty Victorian era S&M novel (Can you imagine all those naked ankles? Forsooth!) It's just a coming of age tale. I'm not even sure "tale" is the appropriate term considering how very autobiographical this I had no idea what Of Human Bondage was about going in. I'd heard vague, unreliable rumors and I expected a dense, difficult read, perhaps a philosophical mind-bender or hell, by the title and date of its publication (1914) I wouldn't have been terribly surprised if it turned out to be a naughty Victorian era S&M novel (Can you imagine all those naked ankles? Forsooth!) It's just a coming of age tale. I'm not even sure "tale" is the appropriate term considering how very autobiographical this book turns out to be. It's not loosely based on W. Somerset Maugham's life, it is his life. Sure, the details are changed or rearranged a bit, such as giving his main character Philip a clubfoot instead of the stammer he actually had or having the character be a struggling painter instead of the struggling writer Maugham was, but in the end this is Maugham's early life. The story starts at the beginning of Philip's life and ends when he's in his thirties. Much of the first half describes his school days and youthful experiences abroad. The later half focuses mainly upon an infatuation in which he allows himself to be used time and again by a woman who has no love for him. So pathetic did he become in my eyes during this section that I had a hard time stomaching it. His intense love for an undeserving woman tested the believability waters a time or two in my eyes, but I'd heard of how middle and upper class Englishmen of that time often developed fancies for poor shop girls, so I was able to hang in there. I have a feeling not everyone else would have that same kind of stamina. I'm not boasting, it's just down to taste and patience for certain kinds of, I don't know, let's call it entertainment. The rumor of potential philosophizing was true to a point. There was plenty of the sort expected from college students who major in the arts, and who think art is the most important thing in life...nay, more important than life itself! Many a high-minded declaration of this nature is made through out the middle section of this book. Certainly there are insights, but there are just as many follies. But for all its philosophizing, Of Human Bondage is just about a guy trying to figure out who he is and what he believes in. It asks with a cyclical repetition "who am I?" while simultaneously stating "This is who I am." Philip doesn't know the true answer or the meaning of the answer he gives. Half time you wonder if he understands the meaning of the question. And perhaps that's the point. What is the meaning of life, and what does that question really mean?

  18. 4 out of 5

    Parthiban Sekar

    Man cannot live alone, for which he has to rely on others for satisfying some of his needs, as Aristotle said: “Man is by nature a social animal”. Friendship and love, that we find in the very society we often dislike for its ill elements, are the only motivations and comforts besides our beloved ones to help us survive. Bonding, be in friendship or love, is how we find the people we want to be with and attach ourselves to them. Like all men, Philip was born into this world where he wondered why Man cannot live alone, for which he has to rely on others for satisfying some of his needs, as Aristotle said: “Man is by nature a social animal”. Friendship and love, that we find in the very society we often dislike for its ill elements, are the only motivations and comforts besides our beloved ones to help us survive. Bonding, be in friendship or love, is how we find the people we want to be with and attach ourselves to them. Like all men, Philip was born into this world where he wondered why he was born in first place, brought up in a family from which he often wanted to disassociate, and caught up in love affairs in which he hated himself for being helplessly captivated. To him, bonding seemed to be inevitable and reading seemed to be safe haven. As Goethe said, Bonding is like chemical reaction. We do not always end up with a desired result, as it may explode on our faces leaving us with permanent scars. Sometimes, it left him feeling loved, and at other times, feeling wretched. “He knew that all things human are transitory and therefore that it must cease one day or another. He looked forward to that day with eager longing. Love was like a parasite in his heart, nourishing a hateful existence on his life's blood; it absorbed his existence so intensely that he could take pleasure in nothing else.” Like all men, Philip was ridiculed because of his natural weakness: clubfoot. He tried to find someone who would see him for not what he has, but what he is. No matter how hard he tried and how nice he was, Clubfoot was still there in his body and nakedly visible to others’ eyes. Sometimes, ‘leaving’ where he was supposed to be ‘living’ was all that he could do. Like all men, Philip wanted to have his own freedom to think and act freely and that made him go to Germany and Paris (correspondingly). Arts and literature solaced him but did not make him feel home. Soon, he knew that he did not belong there. His pursuits of meaning for life, most of the time, turned out only to be meaningless, but he believed that he had to discover the meaning on his own. “Like all weak men he laid an exaggerated stress on not changing one's mind.” Like all men, Philip was stubborn about his decisions which, sooner, he was likely to give up. In the scurry of passing love and fair-weather friendship, he limped through his way to what his father was. But it was not at all easy for him to withstand the winter of loveless days. The new lives he helped to emerge into newborns offered a professional satisfaction. Living became a little easier, his deformity became a forgotten object, and he might be as well loved, too. But, “The important thing was to love rather than to be loved.” --- This is how the life of Philip was, which people often relate to the life of Maugham, and that is not undebatable. But, to read this one is unquestionably undebatable. Must read this English classic!

  19. 5 out of 5

    Vit Babenco

    “Life seemed an inextricable confusion. Men hurried hither and thither, urged by forces they knew not; and the purpose of it all escaped them; they seemed to hurry just for hurrying’s sake.” The riches of the novel are in its characters – there are many of all sorts and Somerset Maugham portrays his personages with the scrupulous psychological precision. Of Human Bondage is written in the very lucid language so it is a great pleasure to read every sentence in the book. “Insensibly he formed the mo “Life seemed an inextricable confusion. Men hurried hither and thither, urged by forces they knew not; and the purpose of it all escaped them; they seemed to hurry just for hurrying’s sake.” The riches of the novel are in its characters – there are many of all sorts and Somerset Maugham portrays his personages with the scrupulous psychological precision. Of Human Bondage is written in the very lucid language so it is a great pleasure to read every sentence in the book. “Insensibly he formed the most delightful habit in the world, the habit of reading: he did not know that thus he was providing himself with a refuge from all the distress of life; he did not know either that he was creating for himself an unreal world which would make the real world of everyday a source of bitter disappointment.” Somerset Maugham leads his hero from early childhood to mellow adulthood and he guides his protagonist through all the vicissitudes of life: ups and downs, welfare and penury, qualms and assuredness, love and loathing and further on… “Philip did not surrender himself willingly to the passion that consumed him. He knew that all things human are transitory and therefore that it must cease one day or another. He looked forward to that day with eager longing. Love was like a parasite in his heart, nourishing a hateful existence on his life’s blood; it absorbed his existence so intensely that he could take pleasure in nothing else… This love was a torment, and he resented bitterly the subjugation in which it held him; he was a prisoner and he longed for freedom.” Love is capable to bring heavenly delights but unrequited love may easily turn into a baleful torture…

  20. 5 out of 5

    peiman-mir5 rezakhani

    دوستان گرانقدر، من این کتاب را با دو ترجمۀ مختلف خواندم.. ترجمه ای از جنابِ جمشیدی پور و ترجمۀ دیگر از جنابِ افشار البته از نظر من، ترجمۀ جنابِ جمشیدی پور شیواتر و ساده تر است... ولی ترجمۀ جنابِ افشار با وجودِ دشواری و پیچ و خَمِ زیاد، کاملتر میباشد.. با احترام باید بگویم، در صورتِ گزینش بینِ دو نسخه، من همان نسخه ای را که ترجمۀ جنابِ جمشیدی پور، است را انتخاب میکنم، با آنکه اشتباهات نوشتاریِ زیادی در این نسخه دیده میشود --------------------------------------------- عزیزانم، در موردِ داستان باید بگ ‎دوستان گرانقدر، من این کتاب را با دو ترجمۀ مختلف خواندم.. ترجمه ای از جنابِ جمشیدی پور و ترجمۀ دیگر از جنابِ افشار ‎البته از نظر من، ترجمۀ جنابِ جمشیدی پور شیواتر و ساده تر است... ولی ترجمۀ جنابِ افشار با وجودِ دشواری و پیچ و خَمِ زیاد، کاملتر میباشد.. با احترام باید بگویم، در صورتِ گزینش بینِ دو نسخه، من همان نسخه ای را که ترجمۀ جنابِ جمشیدی پور، است را انتخاب میکنم، با آنکه اشتباهات نوشتاریِ زیادی در این نسخه دیده میشود --------------------------------------------- ‎عزیزانم، در موردِ داستان باید بگویم، نام کتاب در آغاز «زیبایِ برخاسته از خاکستر» بود که مربوط به سخنِ موهوم از به اصطلاح پیامبری موهوم به نامِ «اشعیا» بوده است... این داستان مربوط میشود به سالهای پایانیِ سدهٔ نوزدهم در انگلستان... داستانِ زندگیِ <فیلیپ>، یک انسانِ معمولی ولی معلول را از کودکی تا میان سالی، بیان میکند، که مشکلاتِ زیادی را تجربه کرده است ‎فیلیپ خیلی زود پدر و مادر را از دست میدهد و برایِ ادامۀ زندگی پیشِ عمویِ خویش میرود که مردی نادان و خرافی و در کل مذهبی میباشد ... زن عمویِ فیلیپ هم پیرزنی بود که فرزند نداشت... خوووب مشخص است که انسانی که مشکلاتِ خانوادگی دارد و از طرفی معلول نیز میباشد، چه دردی را در انگلستانِ آن دوران که جامعه ای نظام مند بوده است را متحمل میشود ... فیلیپی که زندگیش بر مبنایِ فردیت بنا نهاده شده، چطور با جامعۀ نظام مند کنار می آید؟ بله... فیلیپ نمی تواند زیرِ بارِ قوانینِ جامعه برود ‎به نظر میرسد «سامرست موام» زندگیِ خویش را در قالبِ زندگیِ فیلیپ نوشته است... چراکه «موام» در کودکی پدرش را از دست میدهد و نزدِ عمویِ خویش که کشیش بوده است، زندگی میکند.. «موام» در هجده سالگی وارد مدرسۀ پزشکیِ سن توماس شد که در داستان به سن لوک، تغییرِ نام داده شده بود.. «موام» لکنت زبان داشت، ولی فیلیپ در داستان پایش لنگ میزد ‎بهرحال، نویسنده از فیلیپ یک قهرمان میسازد... پیاپی گوشزد میکند که، اگر فیلیپ نقصی دارد، فقط تقصیر از خودِ او نیست، در نتیجه نباید فیلیپ را برایِ این نوع طرزِ فکر، مجازات کرد... حتی داستان را برایِ فیلیپ به بهترین شکلِ ممکن تمام میکند ‎از ایرادهایی که به این داستان وارد است، این بود که: هرچه به پایانِ کتاب نزدیک میشویم، نویسنده آنقدر حرف کم آورده است که 4 الی 5 صفحه، مدام از جملاتِ تکراری استفاده میکند، جملاتی همچون: فکرِ سالی یک لحظه او را رها نمیکرد... یا با خیالِ سالی زمان میگذشت...و در کل چندین صفحه به سرگردانیِ فیلیپ و خیالات و اوهام او اختصاص داده شده است ‎موردِ دیگر این بود که نویسنده سعی دارد طرزِ فکرِ خویش را به خواننده القاء کند ... به عنوانِ مثال، چون شخصیتِ اصلی و قهرمانِ داستان، قصدِ ازدواج با سالی را دارد، نویسنده میگوید: مرگ- زندگی و ازدواج، اصولِ اصلی زندگی است... یکی نبوده بگوید: نویسندهٔ گرامی، این اصول را از کجا درآوردی؟ انسان را یادِ اصولِ کافی، آن عرب پرستِ بی فکر می اندازد... و در ادامه نویسنده میگوید: بلههه.. تحصیل در اسپانیا و گشتن دورِ دنیا و دیدنِ آثارِ باستانی و کهن به چه دردِ فیلیپ میخوره؟ فیلیپ بهترین انتخاب رو انجام داد ‎ قضاوت با اندیشه و خرَدِ شما بزرگواران --------------------------------------------- ‎امیدوارم این ریویو مفید و کافی بوده باشه ‎«پیروز باشید و ایرانی»

  21. 4 out of 5

    Teresa

    Não me considero digna de opinar sobre esta obra grandiosa. Ouso, apenas, deixar um singela recomendação de leitura deste livro que fala da vida e do seu significado Durante setecentos páginas convivi com uma das personagens mais humanas da literatura, na medida em que cada um de nós tem um pouco de Philip Carey. Desde a infância acompanhei esta personagem fabulosa. Vivi a sua perda de inocência, a sua descrença no divino e no humano. Revoltei-me com os erros que cometeu, com as sua fraquezas. Sof Não me considero digna de opinar sobre esta obra grandiosa. Ouso, apenas, deixar um singela recomendação de leitura deste livro que fala da vida e do seu significado Durante setecentos páginas convivi com uma das personagens mais humanas da literatura, na medida em que cada um de nós tem um pouco de Philip Carey. Desde a infância acompanhei esta personagem fabulosa. Vivi a sua perda de inocência, a sua descrença no divino e no humano. Revoltei-me com os erros que cometeu, com as sua fraquezas. Sofri com as suas dores e rejubilei com as suas alegrias. Revoltei-me com a sua ingenuidade e comovi-me com a sua generosidade. Aprendi com os seus sonhos e a sua ânsia de conhecimento. E, com ele, renovei a minha fé na vida e no que nela é valioso.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Cheryl

    When I read a book I seem to read it with my eyes only, but now and then I come across a passage, perhaps only a phrase, which has a meaning for me, and it becomes a part of me. Sometimes you're needlepoint-focused, and at other times, everything is a blur. Sometimes everything around you seems tainted and ugly, and yet you see the beauty in something as simple as wet leaves falling from a tree and attaching themselves in colorful lines to each board of your backyard deck. And you wonder at the When I read a book I seem to read it with my eyes only, but now and then I come across a passage, perhaps only a phrase, which has a meaning for me, and it becomes a part of me. Sometimes you're needlepoint-focused, and at other times, everything is a blur. Sometimes everything around you seems tainted and ugly, and yet you see the beauty in something as simple as wet leaves falling from a tree and attaching themselves in colorful lines to each board of your backyard deck. And you wonder at the truthfulness of the idea that life is neither beautiful nor ugly, but just to be accepted in the same spirit as one accepts the changes of the seasons.. Sometimes you don't know what changes life will bring, but you do know that those pivotal moments depend upon your reaction to these changes. So when the moment occurs, do you rest assured that happiness matters as little as pain and do you "stand above the accidents of your existence?" Do you, like Philip, continue to grow, continue to avoid the shackles that hinder, as you start to believe that the rain falls alike upon "the just and upon the unjust, and for nothing is there a why and a wherefore"? When I think of this book, I equate it to the multifaceted The Brothers Karamozov, since it is also a book that explores the complications of life and thought, traverses the intricacies of morality, stimulates intellectual curiosity, and asks questions of love and choice, all through one nuanced protagonist. This book now sits on my classics pedestal, next to the books that have helped me grow spiritually and intellectually by illuminating the meaning of life, like The Count of Monte Cristo; it attaches itself to my personal experiences, gifting me with highlighted passages that are snippets of my meandering thoughts as I try to discover the meaning of life like Philip does, and in so doing, it also reminds me of the search for lost time in Proust's Swann's Way. From the moment the child Philip lay in his dying mother's arms while she hugged him and caressed his club foot, I knew I'd be enamored by him. Following the immediacy of this chronicle of his growth from adolescence to adult, it was impossible to dislike him, for he is that character who is his own worst critic. Phillip knows when he is wrong, childish, too sensitive, arrogant, lazy, restless, or depressed. Through his journey from artist to accountant and then medicine, he tackles the inextricable confusion of career and realizes when his life's trajectory will depend upon his choices to focus and proceed, even despite the limitations placed upon him by his disability. His commute through conscience and belief is intriguing as it parallels the difficult decisions he makes at various stages of his life. Although I was disappointed to follow his disastrous relationship with Mildred and watch while he scorned the love of Norah, I was also relieved by his final epiphany on love and life. (view spoiler)[And when he was faced to endure the madness of going from a life of prestige to one of stark poverty, I applauded his courage even as he watched his dreams lapse temporarily. (hide spoiler)] He saw what looked like the truth as by flashes of lightning on a dark, stormy night you might see a mountain range. He seemed to see that a man need not leave his life to chance, but that his will was powerful; he seemed to see that self-control might be as passionate and as active as the surrender to passion; he seemed to see that the inward life might be as manifold, as varied, as rich with experience, as the life of one who conquered realms and explored unknown lands. Sometimes when those moments of uncertainty cloud judgment, a moment to consider the meaninglessness of life, just as we consider its meaningfulness, could be all that matters. Maybe we equate happiness to pain and consider how the continual search for one without the other could prove fruitless. And just as we pause to consider the desolation of life and we sometimes fall into the pit of its gloom, perhaps simultaneously, we also consider its exquisite capacity for beauty and we savor its complexities.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Mary

    It is not very comfortable to have the gift of being amused at one's own absurdity. (p.350) What beautifully flawed and frustrated characters Maugham created in Of Human Bondage! This book pulled me in quickly and I loved walking alongside Philip Carey, a boy born with a clubfoot and orphaned at a young age, as he struggled into adulthood. Every character in this story, whether a major player or a minor one, is so real and raw -- they are all alive and despicable in their own authentic ways. Phili It is not very comfortable to have the gift of being amused at one's own absurdity. (p.350) What beautifully flawed and frustrated characters Maugham created in Of Human Bondage! This book pulled me in quickly and I loved walking alongside Philip Carey, a boy born with a clubfoot and orphaned at a young age, as he struggled into adulthood. Every character in this story, whether a major player or a minor one, is so real and raw -- they are all alive and despicable in their own authentic ways. Philip is sent to live with his religious and conservative uncle and aunt, he struggles to find a sense of self and fumbles through school being bullied and confused. It is an illusion that youth is happy, an illusion of those who have lost it (p.109). His uncle and aunt are painted in such vivid sadness, Philip watches them and learns to want more out of life. Philip realised that they had done with life, these two quiet little people: they belonged to a past generation, and they were waiting there patiently, rather stupidly, for death; and he, in his vigour and his youth, thirsting for excitement and adventure, was appalled at the waste. They had done nothing, and when they went it would be just as if they had never been.(p.118) To say he is in a constant state of identity crisis is an understatement. He goes from being an assistant at an accounting firm, to being an artist in Paris, to being homeless and starving in London, to being a doctor.... as someone who still contemplates what she wants to be when she grows up, I related to Philip's inability to find his place in the world. His sense of never belonging, of never being good enough resonates throughout his life. When he falls in love, he does so terribly. Mildred is a character who is so ugly and chaotic, so hateful and mean, that I looked forward to her appearances throughout the book. Unrequited love is a constant theme - Norah loves Phillip but Phillip loves Mildred but Mildred hates Phillip and loves Griffiths who hates Mildred. It's a wonderful web of tragedy of which Philip is unable to escape. He had though of love as a rapture which seized one so that all the world seemed spring-like, he had looked forward to an ecstatic happiness; but this was not happiness; it was a hunger of the soul, it was a painful yearning, it was a bitter anguish, he had never known before" (p.253) The on-again-off-again of Mildred and Philip is frustrating. She treats him like an ATM and he takes it. She's a wretched woman I loved to hate, and apparently so did Philip. He hated, despised, and loved her. (p.274) This book is exquisite. Beautifully written and wonderfully alive. It was no surprise to learn after the fact that this book is almost entirely autobiographical. Maugham's mother died at a young age and he was sent to live with a religious uncle, just as Philip was. He was teased in school for a speech impediment, as Philip was teased for his clubfoot. Maugham had homosexual inclinations and so many times in this book there are minor acquaintances and crushes that Philip has on males - though it's subtle. The insight in which Maugham is able to portray with Philip is astounding - the shame, the lack of self worth, the confusion. Philip learns, as we all eventually must, to live in the present and to appreciate life. To take pleasure in the small things, to find purpose in the people you love and the people who love you back. This book is dark. It's lonely. It's painful. It's absolutely amazing.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Martine

    Of Human Bondage is a Bildungsroman which frequently makes you groan and mentally exclaim 'Oh, no!', only to blow you away with the power of its message and the perfection of its ending. Over the course of the 656-page book, the main character, Philip Carey, a young orphan born with a clubfoot, takes many wrong turns, mostly because he has taken it into his head that he wants to live the life of a romantic hero. He makes unwise career moves, recklessly spends money he should have saved, and gets Of Human Bondage is a Bildungsroman which frequently makes you groan and mentally exclaim 'Oh, no!', only to blow you away with the power of its message and the perfection of its ending. Over the course of the 656-page book, the main character, Philip Carey, a young orphan born with a clubfoot, takes many wrong turns, mostly because he has taken it into his head that he wants to live the life of a romantic hero. He makes unwise career moves, recklessly spends money he should have saved, and gets obsessed with a woman who is so obviously awful that even he himself, at the height of his passion, calls her an 'ill-mannered slut'. But such is the depth of his obsession and extravagant generosity that he goes on treating her nicely even when she grossly abuses him, because hey, you never know -- she might realise one day that he's a much nicer fellow than the rakes with whom she likes to hang out. And so he drags himself down into a hell of masochistic misery, very nearly ruining himself in the process, only to find that happiness of a kind he had never given any serious thought is within his grasp, if only he cares to accept it and let go of the false dreams and ideals that he has cherished for years. The most autobiographical of all Somerset Maugham's novels, Of Human Bondage is a frequently maddening but always impressive account of the education of a shy, bullied young man who seeks to free himself from the shackles of existence without realising what exactly these shackles are. Following a strict and unhappy upbringing, Philip goes on to look for freedom, romance and adventures in the world of art, ideas and ideals, not realising how dangerous and seductive these are, and how they will lead him astray. For much of the first half of the book, Philip is a somewhat unlikeable, self-pitying snob whose bad decisions and obsessive love for an obviously horrible woman occasionally exasperate the reader. In the final third, though, he learns important lessons and meets genuine friends, and by the end of the book he has improved so much that you really find yourself rooting for him, hoping he'll recognise the goodness of the life and wife that are placed before him, and accept them. Maugham paints his journey towards awareness in exquisite detail, looking deep into Philip's soul but also sharing the outsider's perspective on him. He also does a great job drawing the large cast of secondary characters. Many of them are vain, selfish and pretentious, but that only adds to the 'Oh, no!' quality of the story. As for the book's message, which is that life has no meaning and that it's better to accept this before one drives oneself mad searching for it, this is brought home in magnificent detail, especially in the superb final third of the book, which has more depth than just about any other novel I've read. Granted, the story is a bit long, and the first half drags a bit, but it's worth sticking with it for the final chapters, which are so cathartic and revelatory that you cannot but come away impressed and converted. I know I did. Twice. I'd give the book 4.5 stars if I could, but alas...

  25. 5 out of 5

    Наталия Янева

    За пръв път чух за Съмърсет Моъм, когато бях на 19 и, разбира се, тогава всички неща в света носеха послания специално за мен. Свързвах „Души в окови“, по-конкретно оригиналното заглавие на романа, с една изтерзана любовна история, която все пак намери своята щастлива развръзка. Преоткрих Моъм наскоро с „Цветният воал“ и се оказа, че съм забравила личната си горчилка, свързана с него. И се влюбих. Прехвалена е любовта от пръв поглед. Трябват ти понякога години, за да се влюбиш истински. Тогава За пръв път чух за Съмърсет Моъм, когато бях на 19 и, разбира се, тогава всички неща в света носеха послания специално за мен. Свързвах „Души в окови“, по-конкретно оригиналното заглавие на романа, с една изтерзана любовна история, която все пак намери своята щастлива развръзка. Преоткрих Моъм наскоро с „Цветният воал“ и се оказа, че съм забравила личната си горчилка, свързана с него. И се влюбих. Прехвалена е любовта от пръв поглед. Трябват ти понякога години, за да се влюбиш истински. Тогава обаче остава за цял живот. Моъм е… Но не, нека спра дотук. Моъм Е. Душата на неговия Филип Кери носи оковите на всички човешки слабости. Той е наивен, самомнителен, раним. Когато бях малка и аз като него се молех горещо (не на някакъв бог обаче) да ми се случат разни неща и вярвах истински, че ще станат. Е, моите не бяха така смислени като да се отърва от някакъв недъг, но също бяха продиктувани от смътната представа, че трябва някак да се слееш със социума, за да оцелееш. После обаче пораснах и, както често се случва, осъзнах, че дълбоко съм грешала. Същото сполетява и Филип. Младостта му е изтъкана от случайни срещи, от сблъсъци с малките вселени на други човешки същества и отчупване на частици звезден прах от тях, от вплитане в орбитите им. Умът му се люшка като клета платноходка в бурен океан, издига кумири и поваля идоли и робува на собствените си непостоянни настроения. Никога не съм разбирала добре хората на изкуството. Рядко пристъпват извън своите Фарадееви кафези, но когато това стане, ги поразяват сякаш всички мълнии на света. Горе става долу и ти иде да повярваш в поне шест невъзможни неща преди закуска. Личната мълния на Филип идва в лицето на Милдрид. Това е от онези покосяващи влюбвания, които са в разрез с всякаква логика и дори собственият ти разум се противи. Ясно е, че любовта и разумът често нямат нищо общо, даже понякога са в двата враждуващи лагера и си погаждат мръсни номерца. Филип бавничко учи тази истина, но това не му пречи отново и отново да пада по лице в септичната яма на пагубните си чувства. Дори успява доста трезво да се самонаблюдава отстрани и с бегъл интерес да прави вивисекция на увлечението си по анемичната Милдрид. Дали на някого му пука, че любовта му няма смисъл? Не, защото всъщност няма значение. Някои уроци се учат мъчително и някои битки трябва сам да ги водиш, защото когато друг ти каже, че са изгубени предварително, няма да му повярваш. Просто трябва ти да се увериш в това. Филип Кери иска всичко. Иска обаянието на света, приключенския живот на пътешественик и бохемското декадентство на творец. Ще му се да скицира един идеален миг и да живее в него. Иска да намери хармонията на съществуването и се ужасява, че тя е просто красив мит. ‘I want a perfect body/ I want a perfect soul’, биха изпели Radiohead по този повод (и все ще се намери кой да изсъска ‘But you’re a Creep ’). Или cripple в случая на Филип. Хората прощават много придобити пороци, но никога недъзите, с които си се родил. Започнах с това, че Съмърсет Моъм Е. Той ме накара да повярвам на Филип. Убеди ме в съществуването му. В колебанията и несигурността му. Най-вече в желанието му да открие смисъла и щастието. Когато изказвам хвалебствия за автор, когото до онзи ден не съм чела, се чувствам малко като невярна съпруга на всички останали свои любими писатели, но какво да се прави. Литературата е създадена да се обича безразборно и моногамията не влиза в сметките. Перото на Моъм не се характеризира с изтънченото многословие на Хенри Джеймс или с остроумните наблюдения на Джейн Остин, нито с парадоксалните духовитости на Оскар Уайлд. То е простичко, като че Моъм разказва едва ли не на себе си. И все пак разказва от сърце. ‘The ridicule and the contempt which had so often been heaped upon him had turned his mind inward and called forth those flowers which he felt would never lose their fragrance. Then he saw that the normal was the rarest thing in the world. Everyone had some defect, of body or of mind: he thought of all the people he had known (the whole world was like a sick-house, and there was no rhyme or reason in it), he saw a long procession, deformed in body and warped in mind, some with illness of the flesh, ...and some with illness of the spirit.’

  26. 5 out of 5

    Carmo

    O perfeito exemplo de como da singeleza se faz uma obra magnifica. Não é feito de palavras caras nem de gestos arrojados, não prima por ter personagens que nos marcam pela coragem ou pela ousadia dos seus atos, nem tampouco temos o suficiente para odiar um ou outro (bem, com a Mildred andei lá perto). O que nos atinge é constatar que qualquer um deles tem um pouco de nós, da nossa sede de liberdade, da nossa fúria de ir mais longe, das nossas inseguranças, duvidas e medos, das grilhetas que nos O perfeito exemplo de como da singeleza se faz uma obra magnifica. Não é feito de palavras caras nem de gestos arrojados, não prima por ter personagens que nos marcam pela coragem ou pela ousadia dos seus atos, nem tampouco temos o suficiente para odiar um ou outro (bem, com a Mildred andei lá perto). O que nos atinge é constatar que qualquer um deles tem um pouco de nós, da nossa sede de liberdade, da nossa fúria de ir mais longe, das nossas inseguranças, duvidas e medos, das grilhetas que nos tolhem e da coragem que precisamos para as soltar - ou da falta dela. Foi uma viagem através do mais profundo do ser humano, da sua alma contraditória, das suas atitudes que nos espantam, doem ou admiramos. Em busca de um sentido para a vida, em demanda pela liberdade e felicidade, pelo amor perfeito. Uma busca sem fim à vista já que até ao último dia da nossa vida perseguiremos algo. Será esse o grande sentido? Ou será a nossa própria servidão? Como já me tinha acontecido n'O Véu Pintado fiquei com a sensação do autor ter precipitado o final nas últimas páginas... Ou foi uma maneira de nos dizer que por vezes não é preciso ir longe; que por vezes a felicidade pode estar logo ali ao lado, onde menos se prevê e nas coisas mais simples. É caso para dizer-mos a nós próprios: "stop and smell the roses". Não é contudo um livro dos mais fáceis de ler, muitas vezes adiei a leitura por o achar demasiado lento e pormenorizado. Quase, quase que perdeu uma estrela por isso.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Tadiana ✩Night Owl☽

    DNF at 25%. This 1915 semi-autobiographical novel by W. Somerset Maugham just isn’t working for me. Of Human Bondage meanders slowly through the childhood and young adult life and times of Philip Carey, an orphaned young man with a rather tough life and a LOT of hang ups. It’s insightful but prosy and very long-winded, with characters who aren’t particularly appealing making lots of poor decisions (and I didn't even get to the biggest one! Thank you, Wikipedia plot summary). I know this is general DNF at 25%. This 1915 semi-autobiographical novel by W. Somerset Maugham just isn’t working for me. Of Human Bondage meanders slowly through the childhood and young adult life and times of Philip Carey, an orphaned young man with a rather tough life and a LOT of hang ups. It’s insightful but prosy and very long-winded, with characters who aren’t particularly appealing making lots of poor decisions (and I didn't even get to the biggest one! Thank you, Wikipedia plot summary). I know this is generally considered Maugham’s masterpiece and my literary GR friends pretty much all gave it 5 stars, but I just can’t with it right now. Maybe later some day.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Nicole~

    4.5 stars It has sometimes seemed to me that if the author can in no way keep himself out of his work it might be better if he put in as much of himself as possible. - William Somerset Maugham. Of Human Bondage was written in 1915 following a philosophical theme that William Somerset Maugham was developing during his first novel. It is Maugham's semi-autobiographical novel. Philip Carey, born with a physically deformed foot, is orphaned at a very young age. He is raised in the house of his stoic, r 4.5 stars It has sometimes seemed to me that if the author can in no way keep himself out of his work it might be better if he put in as much of himself as possible. - William Somerset Maugham. Of Human Bondage was written in 1915 following a philosophical theme that William Somerset Maugham was developing during his first novel. It is Maugham's semi-autobiographical novel. Philip Carey, born with a physically deformed foot, is orphaned at a very young age. He is raised in the house of his stoic, rigid, unyielding preacher uncle whom he grows to resent. As an intelligent and educated young adult, he is harshly disappointed by his unsuccessful attempt to become an artist. Floundering, he eventually settles on a medical career, where his compassion and capacity to ease his patients' suffering seem natural, inborn. He meets an ill mannered waitress, Mildred Rogers, and falls in love. They are, from the start, undeniably unsuited - completely incompatible to one another. Their obsessive and irrational, back and forth relationship is based on Maugham's developed philosophy of "human bondage" and the novel's central theme of love and passion. Maugham postulated in his book (he refused to call it an autobiography or a book of recollections) The Summing Up: "I believed we were wretched puppets at the mercy of a ruthless fate; and that, bound by the inexorable laws of nature, we were doomed to take part in the ceaseless struggle for existence with nothing to look forward to but inevitable defeat. I learnt that men were moved by egoism, that love was only the dirty trick nature played on us to achieve the continuation of the species, and I decided that, whatever aims men set themselves, they were deluded, for it was impossible for them to aim at anything but their own selfish pleasures."(The Summing Up, p.73) Maugham's philosophy questioned the nature of human actions and their underlying motivations: If someone's choice of action is based on his rational will, yet he is controlled by his very nature to act differently, then rational will is not autonomous nor free. He is in psychological bondage. The natural instincts of Maugham's characters are persistently scourged by unrelenting passion. Fanny Price, for example, the failed artist who needily attaches herself to Philip in Paris, is in a kind of bondage to the passion to paint. Her desire is deep rooted and overwhelming. Disregarding time and again her instructors' humiliating assessments of her lack of skill, she is driven to frantic levels and eventual self destruction. Mildred is described as "anemic", a woman not even generically attractive, a consideration which makes Philip's infatuation of her the more odd. She is stupid and common - her passions are essentially primal; she's more easily drawn to men who are as manipulative and undependable as herself. For a caring, concerned, vulnerable and likable man like Philip, whom she describes often as a "real gentleman", she could barely tolerate. She is, to some degree, also in bondage to her own passions. Philip's personal binds are obvious, beginning with his early comprehension of his physical restrictions - the origins of the barrier to his psychological freedom. Philip looses faith in the religion which proclaims freedom of prerogative; he realizes he hasn't the skill to follow his desire to paint; he obsessively loves Mildred in spite of her loathsome conduct and her inability to love him back; he suffers dire poverty when finding work is impeded by his club foot. Until Philip finds power over his constraining desires, his progression as the novel's protagonist remain stymied. Maugham clearly made his point with Philip and Mildred's relationship, although too often, too repetitively. Philip seemed to fall into the same trap over and over again, without learning from his past bad experiences with this she-devil. Many times I shouted at him and wanted to shake him (gently, of course) from sheer exasperation. Of Human Bondage is a wonderful read, be prepared to holler at Philip but don't miss out on the basic human lessons. Highly recommended.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Jan-Maat

    I pulled this off my parents shelves, a slightly battered paperback with a pale cover and read it at some point between my teens and early twenties. Looking over other reviews I can't say I recognise what they have to say, so I suspect (view spoiler)[ after deep thought (hide spoiler)] it's not a book that made a big impact on me. The scene in which an other art student is found when she has hung herself in her brown dress sticks in my mind, along with the scene towards the end with the hop pickin I pulled this off my parents shelves, a slightly battered paperback with a pale cover and read it at some point between my teens and early twenties. Looking over other reviews I can't say I recognise what they have to say, so I suspect (view spoiler)[ after deep thought (hide spoiler)] it's not a book that made a big impact on me. The scene in which an other art student is found when she has hung herself in her brown dress sticks in my mind, along with the scene towards the end with the hop picking with the girl looking slyly at Philip to see his reaction to something she said. The clubfoot seems like a clumsy metaphor for Maugham's sexuality, the consequences of which seem to be relationships in which he either cannot love, is abused, or dominates through superior intellect. It's not normal is it to have a Bildungsroman with an ambiguous ending? Can the reader share the character's satisfaction at basing a relationship on supposed superiority rather than equality? It puts me in mind of The Way of all Flesh. The boy has escaped his childhood and become a writer, but isn't necessarily a 'good' man.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Jenna

    First of all, I would like to thank William for recommending this book. And also Mike and Heather for confirming how great this book is. After reading the book, We Are Not Ourselves, and speaking how it was so character-driven, I was told how Of Human Bondage could pull some serious emotion from the characters as well. A story that is successful at building three-dimensional characters have this way of making you feel as though you are walking along with them through life, at least until this char First of all, I would like to thank William for recommending this book. And also Mike and Heather for confirming how great this book is. After reading the book, We Are Not Ourselves, and speaking how it was so character-driven, I was told how Of Human Bondage could pull some serious emotion from the characters as well. A story that is successful at building three-dimensional characters have this way of making you feel as though you are walking along with them through life, at least until this character that you are following starts making asinine decisions. It is then that you realize that you are incapable of jumping into the pages and smacking the MC around a bit. This was my dilemma at times, but I love this about books! Of Human Bondage is basically about an orphaned boy named Philip Carey who can't seem to stay in one place for long, although he has many opportunities to flourish in some areas throughout life, he tends to choose the path of most resistance instead. At the start, Philip had no self-control and was very impulsive when it came to future decisions, money, career, and to a certain woman. At times he is mad at life for his downfalls and sometimes blames his club foot, but in the end I believe that he realizes that he is always in the predicaments that he faces based on his own decision making. Philips main concern throughout the book is to understand the meaning of life and exactly where he fits in. Throughout the book there are philosophies weaved through the pages by various characters that I found interesting. For instance when Philip was young the Headmaster of his school was trying to convince him to stay longer to get a scholarship to Oxford and to be in the running for Headmaster in the future, of course since someone wanted him to do this, he rebelled in his decision of such a thing. The Headmaster implies that his choices in life were limited due to his club foot and how he chooses to be his own victim. One quote that stood out to me in their conversation was: "As long as you accept it rebelliously it can only cause you shame. But if you looked at it as a cross that was given you to bear only because your shoulders were strong enough to bear it, a sign of God's favour, then it will be a source of happiness to you instead of misery." This seemed to ring true throughout many aspects of Philip's life, not only his club foot. You will find as you grow older that the first thing needful to make the world a tolerable place to live in is to recognize the inevitable selfishness of humanity. You demand unselfishness from others, which is a preposterous claim that they should sacrifice their desires to yours. Why should they? When you are reconciled to the fact that each is for himself in the world you will ask less from your fellows. They will not disappoint you, and you will look upon them more charitably. Men seek but one thing in life- their pleasure." ~Cronshow It's funny how a story that is character-driven can cause you to sometimes not like a character but as you grow with them you see that they are like you- learning about life and judging people by their downfalls until you are mature enough to realize that everyone in life has their own issues whether it be mental or physical. And in most cases our judgements are merely just projections of our own insecurities. I thoroughly enjoyed watching Philip grow and turn into a man with quite a bit of dignity in the end. I became very attached to Philip. I have to admit that his relationship with Mildred nearly drove me mad though. (view spoiler)[I loved it when Philip finally starts to get it and makes a huge transition in life. It was like dishing out the toy at the bottom of the cereal box: He accepted the deformity which had made life so hard for him; he knew that it had warped his character, but now he saw also that by reason of it he had acquired that power of introspection which had given him so much delight. Without it he would never have had his keen appreciation of beauty, his passion for art and literature, and his interest in the varied spectacle of life. The ridicule and the contempt which had so often been heaped upon him had turned his mind inward and called forth those flowers which he felt would never lose their fragrance. Then he saw that the normal was the rarest thing in the world. Everyone had some defect, of body or of mind..." (hide spoiler)] I also want to add that I found this book made me laugh out loud at various points and thoroughly enjoyed the escape from the seriousness of certain situations at times. One thing that stuck out to me that made me giggle was after Philip stopped believing in God and felt that he didn't want to be chained down to any religion. "He was his own master at last. From old habit, unconsciously he thanked God that he no longer believed in him." I could not help but notice a lot of similarities between this book and The Catcher in the Rye. I have a sneaking suspicion that this may not be accidental. Both Philip and Holden are in search for the meaning of life, they both attend private schools that they cannot wait to escape. They both seem to want to travel far away to escape their demons. I just found this to be interesting and I wonder if Somerset Maugham was an influence for JD Salinger.

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