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Of Human Bondage

W. Somerset Maugham

Book Overview: 

Of Human Bondage is considered to be W. Somerset Maugham’s best work. Many believe the novel to be one of the world’s literary masterpieces. The story follows Phillip Carey from early childhood through his 30’s. Orphaned at 9, Phillip spends his early years raised by his childless aunt and uncle. His aunt tries to be a mother to Philip, but she is unsure how to behave whereas his uncle, a vicar, takes a cold disposition towards him. Philip is sent to a boarding school but his shyness and his club foot make it difficult for him to fit in. The novel follows this theme throughout as Phillip travels to Germany, France, and England, makes new acquaintances, searches for his life’s calling, and experiences romantic episodes. Mildred in particular, will leave you wondering about Phillip's obsession and passion for such a woman. More than a few of us have had “our Mildred”. The characters in Of Human Bondage are real-life with faults, qualities, and feelings that Maugham describes so vividly. It would not be unusual that we have encountered individuals with traits similar to the characters in this book. At times the emotions in this novel, so simply but purely written, will leave you either sad or happy and even perhaps, teary-eyed as the enthusiasm of youth is met with reality as Phillip tries to discover the meaning of HIS life through the dreams of others.

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Book Excerpt: 
. . .his month's money; and with the folly of his age he had been unwilling to confess he could not afford an extravagance.

Luckily Hayward's letters came seldom, and in the intervals Philip settled down again to his industrious life. He had matriculated at the university and attended one or two courses of lectures. Kuno Fischer was then at the height of his fame and during the winter had been lecturing brilliantly on Schopenhauer. It was Philip's introduction to philosophy. He had a practical mind and moved uneasily amid the abstract; but he found an unexpected fascination in listening to metaphysical disquisitions; they made him breathless; it was a little like watching a tight-rope dancer doing perilous feats over an abyss; but it was very exciting. The pessimism of the subject attracted his youth; and he believed that the world he was about to enter was a place of pitiless woe and of darkness. That made him none the less eager to enter it; and when, in. . . Read More

Community Reviews

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 ho...more

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...more

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

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 o...more

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 mothe...more

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...more

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...more

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 wi...more

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, o...more

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 referen...more

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