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Of Human Bondage

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From a tormented orphan with a clubfoot Philip Carey grows into an impressionable young man with a voracious appetite for adventure and knowledge His cravings take him to Paris at age eighteen to try his hand at art then. A lot of this book

Summary » PDF, DOC, TXT or eBook ✓ W. Somerset Maugham

Back to London to study medicine But even so nothing can sate his nagging hunger for experience Then he falls obsessively in love embarking on a disastrous relationship that will change his life foreverMarked by countless. Has one of literat

W. Somerset Maugham ✓ 4 characters

Similarities to Maugham’s own life his masterpiece is “not an autobiography” as the author himself once contended “but an autobiographical novel; fact and fiction are inexorably mingled; the emotions are my own?. The following is A

  • Paperback
  • 684
  • Of Human Bondage
  • W. Somerset Maugham
  • English
  • 12 October 2019
  • 9780451530172

About the Author: W. Somerset Maugham

William Somerset Maugham was born in Paris in 1874 He spoke French even before he spoke a word of English a fact to which some critics attribute the purity of his style His parents died early and after an unhappy boyhood which he recorded poignantly in Of Human Bondage Maugham became a ualified physician But writing was his true vocation For ten years before his first success he almost l



10 thoughts on “Of Human Bondage

  1. says:

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

  2. says:

    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 exuisite 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 conuered realms and explored unknown landsThis novel had its affect on me for many different reasons but two personal empirical reasons uickly 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 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 inuiry 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 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 uote 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

  3. says:

    A lot of this book is uite 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 lifeI 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 othersHis 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 PhilipMaugham 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 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 uestion – what is art and how does one know one has the gift – is a constant theme of the early part of the bookThe 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 choicesRepeatedly 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 uote 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 eually – both the pain and the joy – as part of the tapestry of life Love is almost impossible and is never eual – it is a sad and bitter visionIn 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 uite a read and I enjoyed it if enjoyed is at all the right word very much

  4. says:

    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

  5. says:

    Of Human Bondage is written in a charming language so it is a great pleasure to read every sentence in the bookLife 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 sakeThe riches of the novel are in its characters – there are many of all sorts and Somerset Maugham portrays his personages with the scrupulous psychological precisionInsensibly 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 disappointmentSomerset 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 ualms and assuredness love and loathing and further onPhilip 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 freedomLove is capable to bring heavenly delights but unreuited love may easily turn into a pernicious torture

  6. says:

    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 uotes and referencesSomerset 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 acuainted 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 uestioning searching human being experimenting with life and its meaningEven 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 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 aliveThe 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 seuel 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 preferWhatever happened to him now would be 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 bePhilip was happyThis idea of life as a work of art meaningless but beautiful reminds me of Oscar Wilde a contemporary of this novel All Art Is uite Useless he said in full praise of the only thing that exists without any practical reason solely for the pleasure of wit and beautyMust read Love it

  7. says:

    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 uestion posed by so many 20th century artists but few as elouently 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 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 uietly under his lack of affection but raise their nephew as if he was their ownRaised in the vicarage where he bathes no 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 Whenever he started a book with two solitary travelers riding along the brink of a desperate ravine he knew he was safeAt 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 uestion for the first time what he's read or been toldPhilip 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 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 unbelievingReturning 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 uestions Have you ever been to the Cluny the museum? There you will see Persian carpets of the most exuisite 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 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 youYou are cryptic said PhilipI am drunk answered CronshawW 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 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 sueezed 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 ualified 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 ueen Philip becomes inexplicably enad 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 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

  8. says:

    The following is American Idol judge Nicki Minaj's critiue 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

  9. says:

    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 timeSo 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 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 HaThere is a redemptive theme running through although Philip loses his religious beliefs This is a powerful novel and is well worth the effort

  10. says:

    What is the meaning of life? Well the answer seems to be hidden in a scrap of Persian rugThis is the story of an unforgettable fictional character named Philip Carey and his extremely tumultuous and tormented life from age 9 thru 30Poor 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 outcastIn his search for freedom and affection OF HUMAN BONDAGE descriptively depicts Philip's various vocations friendships precarious love life and educationas 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 OMGOSHhe was so gullible and indecisive it drove me crazyBUT he was also a kind likeable character generous to an indescribable fault good hearted and most of allwilling to forgiveOriginally published in 1915 this memorable classic is one hell of an intimate tale of human relationships What a story

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