Of Human Bondage

Of Human Bondage

Book - 1992
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Penguin Putnam
Selected by the Modern Library as one of the 100 best novels of all time

"It is very difficult for a writer of my generation, if he is honest, to pretend indifference to the work of Somerset Maugham," wrote Gore Vidal. "He was always so entirely there."

Originally published in 1915, Of Human Bondage is a potent expression of the power of sexual obsession and of modern man's yearning for freedom. This classic bildungsroman tells the story of Philip Carey, a sensitive boy born with a clubfoot who is orphaned and raised by a religious aunt and uncle. Philip yearns for adventure, and at eighteen leaves home, eventually pursuing a career as an artist in Paris. When he returns to London to study medicine, he meets the androgynous but alluring Mildred and begins a doomed love affair that will change the course of his life. There is no more powerful story of sexual infatuation, of human longing for connection and freedom.

"Here is a novel of the utmost importance," wrote Theodore Dreiser on publication. "It is a beacon of light by which the wanderer may be guided. . . . One feels as though one were sitting before a splendid Shiraz of priceless texture and intricate weave, admiring, feeling, responding sensually to its colors and tones."

For more than seventy years, Penguin has been the leading publisher of classic literature in the English-speaking world. With more than 1,700 titles, Penguin Classics represents a global bookshelf of the best works throughout history and across genres and disciplines. Readers trust the series to provide authoritative texts enhanced by introductions and notes by distinguished scholars and contemporary authors, as well as up-to-date translations by award-winning translators.

Baker & Taylor
A young man struggling for self-realization is caught up in a destructive love affair

Publisher: New York : Penguin Books, 1992
ISBN: 9780140185225
Branch Call Number: FICTION MAUGH...W
Characteristics: xxvii, 610 pages ; 20 cm


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athompson10 Apr 26, 2017

Lovely. A young man's coming of age through a difficult childhood and into an adulthood of challenges and compromises.

Sep 21, 2016

Prior to reading Somerset Maugham's novel - I had already seen the 1934 and the 1964 film adaptations of his work. And what surprised me the most, of course, was how little these 2 films covered the full story of Philip Carey's life, as they only narrowly focused in on his unhappy encounter with the sluttish waitress, Mildred, and nothing else.

In this novel - The story about Philip Carey (and his clubfoot) starts off when he was just a boy of 9 - And then it continues well past the time when that tramp, Mildred, trampled all over his dignity.

Written by Maugham in 1915 - This tale of inescapable "human bondage" is a very potent and detailed account of Philip's troubled life where - (already at a very young age) - He learned all about the cruelty of others and the forked-tongued hypocrisy of religion.

Apparently - Of Human Bondage was something of a semi-autobiographical re-telling of Maugham's own life (who was 40 at the time this novel was written) - But Maugham did not have a clubfoot, and, unlike Philip, he was, in fact, homosexual.... Somerset Maugham died in 1965 at the age of 91... (*Watch video-clip*)

AL_JEREMIAH Aug 08, 2016

This book tells the story of young Englishman Philip Carey and his growing-up process. Born with a club foot, orphaned while young, raised by his clergyman uncle and wife on a parsonage, Philip is forced to make his way in the world. We see the difficulties he faces growing up, complicated by his sensitive temperament, his deformity, and the loss of his mother. Maugham covers just about every aspect of the natural growing-up process. Philip’s recurring romantic relationship with one woman in particular, Mildred, takes up most of the book, which produces many cringeworthy scenes. The “bondage” of the title refers to our bondage to love, including an unhealthy bondage to people who are not good for us. Overall, the novel provides a wonderful account of Philip’s maturation process. Written in very straightforward, plain prose. The book is expertly plotted and planned, and includes very deep insights into human nature. Unusually frank for its day.

Jun 03, 2016

Although I enjoyed this novel it was often too wordy and the circumstances too grim. Maugham's ability to describe a character is extremely vivid and real but I sometimes felt I didn't want to know any more about an individual's depravity. Phillip's destructive infatuation with Mildred was so grim and tawdry that I kept hoping he would simply grow up and move on. I couldn't empathize with his inability to stop loving her.

Jan 05, 2016

I read this when I was living in Queens, NY. I found it very easy to follow even though it is dense, and thick books always intimidate me.

There is much resemblance to Maugham's own life in this book. You can feel the personal anguish of Phillip and the turmoil and ecstasy of relationships.

noah8956 Mar 25, 2014

Amazing! Maugham's description of Phillip Carey's love for Mildred really hit home.

Jan 14, 2014

Though the prose is old fashioned and the story is told in a linear fashion the subject matter of this book is excellent. The protagonist is well developed, the balance of the characters are developed but we only see them from Philip's viewpoint with one small exception. This novel is definitely worth reading.

Nov 05, 2013

A must-read novel, one of the greatest ever written.
Everyone can find something of themselves in Philip Carey, and can relate to his struggles as he grows into adulthood and self-acceptance.

bradleydargan4life Apr 14, 2011

really, a perfect novel. one of the greatest ever written. do yourself a favor and let this book into your life.

Dec 31, 2009

This beautifully written novel describes a young man's struggle to find his path in life. In his early years Philip Carey is possessed by ungovernable emotions fueled by a desperate need for love, acceptance, and freedom. Throughout this classic bildungsroman the author masterfully details Philip's failures as he drags himself down into a mire of masochistic misery. As the story progresses, Philip learns that striving for the unachievable only leads to unhappiness. The book often drifts into philosophic debates, eventually concluding that life has no meaning so searching for it is ultimately self-destructive.


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