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Of Human Bondage: 100th Anniversary Edition Mass Market Paperback – Jan 2 2007
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“The modern writer who has influenced me the most.”—George Orwell
“One of my favorite writers.”—Gabriel García Marquez
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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 masochistic affair.
"From the Trade Paperback edition. --This text refers to an alternate Mass Market Paperback edition.See all Product Description
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Top Customer Reviews
A semi-autobiography of Somerset, 'Of Human Bondage' depicts the formulative years of one Philip Carrey, who is orphaned at an early age and cursed with a deformed leg. Raised in a classic middle-class English household, Philip goes to school, drops out of school, questions the existence of God, wanders to Germany and France, tries his hand at painting, attends a doctorial college. Though weak-willed and sensitive to the extreme about his leg, Philip nonetheless displays a lucid perspective about the events that occur around him and the people that populate his world; Somerset's subtle, sometimes cynical, often deadpan personality comes forth brilliantly, without ever resorting to preaching or needless melodrama.
For me, the most difficult part of the text concerns Phillip's doomed relationship with the waitress Mildred, whom he falls into a pathetic love/hate affair. The character of Mildred is so obnoxious and the details of their relationship so noxious I barely continued on from her introduction...but persisted, realizing the overall importance to the narrative.Read more ›
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.
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.
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.
Most recent customer reviews
This book is a long read and it has a few dull parts. I kept reading it because I became attached to Philip the protagonist who branches off to find his own way in the world. Read morePublished 11 months ago by MS
This work of literary art pulled me onward, causing to unfold in my imagination the creation of Philip Carey's world - Maugham's reality. Read morePublished 21 months ago by Laurel Phillips
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 morePublished on April 11 2014 by q_theparrotwhoownsme
Somerset Maugham's style is beautifully simple, presenting a non-pretentious narrative about the life and ambitions of Philip Carey. Read morePublished on Aug. 7 2013 by Dr Joe Noon
I was amazed when I read of Human Bondage again after many years....just how much
more I read into it...... Read more
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 morePublished on July 27 2004
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 morePublished on Nov. 17 2003 by Alicia Walker
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 morePublished on Aug. 12 2003 by brewster22