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Of Human Bondage: 100th Anniversary Edition [Mass Market Paperback]

W. Somerset Maugham , Maeve Binchy , Benjamin DeMott
4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (85 customer reviews)
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Book Description

Jan. 2 2007
From an orphan with a clubfoot, Philip Carey grows into an impressionable young man with a voracious appetite for adventure and knowledge. Then he falls obsessively in love, embarking on a disastrous relationship that will change his life forever.


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Review

"The modern writer who has influenced me the most." - George Orwell

"One of my favourite writers." - Gabriel Garcia Marquez

"A writer of great dedication." - Graham Greene


From the Trade Paperback edition. --This text refers to an alternate Mass Market Paperback edition.

From the Back Cover

"The modern writer who has influenced me the most." - George Orwell

"One of my favourite writers." - Gabriel Garcia Marquez

"A writer of great dedication." - Graham Greene


From the Trade Paperback edition.

Inside This Book (Learn More)
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First Sentence
THE day broke grey and dull. Read the first page
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Back Cover
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Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars My All-Time Favorite Book Nov. 8 2001
By A Customer
Format:Paperback
I once sat down and tried to estimate how many books I've read in my life. This is a VERY rough guess, but I'd say it's close to 2,000. Based on that number, the fact that this book is my all-time favorite is pretty significant. Not only is this particular book my all-time favorite, but Mr. Maugham is also my #1 favorite author. I've read (so far) 12 of his novels, three volumes of short story collections, 22 of his plays, and a memoir, and plan to read every word this GENIUS on human nature ever had published. We're allowed to write up to a 1,000 word review; I wish I could rate this book 1,000 stars! If you read only one book in your life, this should be the one.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Of Human Bondage June 22 2003
Format:Paperback
Somerset Maugham's sweeping epic unfolds over a term of twenty five or so years corresponding to the end od the Victorian era. Phillip Carey an orphan is raised by his Aunt and Uncle, an Anglican clergeyman. Phillip is ultra sensitive about his deformed foot and his Uncle's indifference. When Phillip turns to adulthood he turns his back on the Church, much to the dismay of his uncle and loving Aunt. He first tries his luck as an accountant and fails miserably. He then takes his inheritance and goes to Paris to study painting. He discovers that he only has marginal talent and returns to England to study medicine.
It is while in medical school that the most compelling part of the novel comes to life. Phillip falls miserbly in love with Milldred, an ill tempered and morally corrupt woman of a much lower class than Phillip. Mildreds descent into the abyss very nearly brings Phillip with her. Phillip finally finds himself when he befreiends a typesetter and his family and Phillip yearns for the simple and happy life that the family enjoys.
The novel is Dickens like in its deaths and depressive environs. The plight of a Paris classmate is the most poingnent of the various sub-plots. Phillip Carey is truly a Dickens like hero who chases forbidden love. The reader agonizes as Phillip is abused over and over again by Mildred. Of Human Bondage is worth the 800 pages.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Trials and Tribulations of Phillip Carey June 14 2002
Format:Paperback
This is a classic Bildungsroman -- one of those wonderful books that allows the reader snapshots into the protagonist's life as he grows from a child into a man. Because of the nature of such novels, I found the beginning of the book quite tedious and uninteresting. In fact, it wasn't until about page 300 (when Phillip Carey, the novel's subject, is in Paris) that I felt I was really "hooked" on the story. After that point, however, I found it enjoyable to put the pieces together in the book, and to figure out how Phillip's childhood and strange adolescence made him into the man he became.
The one piece of the puzzle that never quite fit in is Mildred, the rather disgusting object of Phillip's obsession. At first, I kind of liked her for her cheekiness. As Phillip's passion for her grew, however, so did my distaste for her -- I found myself muttering warnings to Phillip under my breath each time he extended himself to her. Mildred is a unique character, however, simply because she's revolting; I didn't expect her to become so prominent in Phillip's life, because I always anticipated he'd be attracted to someone kind and lovely (like a Thomas Hardy female character). She is just one of many interesting twists in this book.
I also really enjoyed the "motherly" theme of the book. Phillip's journey through life begins without a mother, he inherits an inadequate aunt as a mother-figure, he encounters a passionless mother in Mildred, finds admirable and pitiable motherly qualities in Mrs. Athelny, and ends up with a woman who is always described as "maternal." I found it interesting to follow that thread throughout the book.
I was surprised by the ending because it didn't really seem to fit in with the rest of Phillip's life. However, upon re-reading the section of Phillip's "epiphany" about life, it all seems to work out correctly.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Classic of the Genre March 4 2002
By A Customer
Format:Mass Market Paperback
Of Human Bondage is the must read of the confession genre. It details Maugham's life loosely in events but his emotionality to a tee. The reader feels that they are living his life right along with him; feeling what he feels and seeing what he sees.
Before reading this book it may be helpful to read a brief bio of Maugham so it's easier to see the parallels and the symbolism that he employs throughout the work which bridge the gaps between the fiction and the reality.
The most interesting and emotionally difficult portions of the book to read are those when Philip is experiencing pain and grief through his relationship with Mildred. The account of this relationship is by far the most powerful writing in the book because it is the most raw and honest. It is not hard to imagine the author, and or yourself, in a similar situation feeling the exact pain and anger that his fictitious character tries to weave his way through.
Maugham is certainly not the best writer I have ever read. His prose is straight forward and not to dynamic but what he lacks in showmanship he more than makes up for in this ability to observe the range of human emotions that all people feel at some point in their life. The themes of lose and hardship are plentiful through this book, and many people get hung up them, but I think that the true point is Maugham's desire to show that it all comes out in the wash. That humans are resilient animals and the pain of yesterday is forgotten with the joy of today.
This is no doubt a classic piece of literature that deserves not only reading but study.
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Most recent customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
In good second hand condition, pleased
Published 28 days ago by viola glos
5.0 out of 5 stars loved it
No wonder this book is a classic. A bit slow to start but starts rolling along about 1/3 in. Rich character portrayal and interesting circumstances that make you understand the... Read more
Published 4 months ago by Robin E Ferrari
5.0 out of 5 stars Of Human bondage
I was amazed when I read of Human Bondage again after many years....just how much
more I read into it...... Read more
Published on Aug. 17 2012 by Verna.vp
5.0 out of 5 stars Not an S/M book
This has to be, along with EAST OF EDEN and Capote's OTHER VOICES, OTHER ROOMS, one of my favorite books. It's extremely long but goes quickly and the story is fascinating. Read more
Published on July 27 2004
3.0 out of 5 stars Not a quick read, nor an easy one, but worth it
I got frustrated with this book in the middle. It was a bit tedious to read at times b/c it required all my focus. But in the end, it was worth it. Read more
Published on Nov. 17 2003 by Alicia Walker
3.0 out of 5 stars Of Learning When to Use an Editor
If W. Somerset Maugham's intent in writing "Of Human Bondage" was to instill the desire in his reader to see Philip Carey (the book's protagonist) bludgeoned with a blunt object,... Read more
Published on Aug. 12 2003 by brewster22
3.0 out of 5 stars Stupid people get what they deserve...
It is probably a stroke of genius on the part of Maugham that the main character of this novel is crippled. Read more
Published on Feb. 28 2002 by "the_tinman"
5.0 out of 5 stars A difficult text, but well worth the read
'Of Human Bondage' is precisely that: a seminal text focused upon the varied enslavements man subjects himself to, be they poverty, or ego, or religion, or pride, or classism, or... Read more
Published on Feb. 1 2002 by Ian Vance
4.0 out of 5 stars Stick with it
It starts slowly - in fact it only really starts when Philip goes to Paris. This is a world without student grants or state handouts. Read more
Published on Jan. 4 2002
5.0 out of 5 stars A brilliant effort, difficult to put down
Maugham proves that one doesn't need to write complex or flowery prose to evoke poignant emotions and admiration for the author's brilliance. Read more
Published on Dec 10 2001 by Ritesh Laud
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