Of Human Bondage

By Hungary. Orsz%C3%A1ggy%3Fl%C3%A9s. K%C3%A9pvisel%3Fh%C3%A1z.

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Readers` Reviews

★ ★ ★ ★ ★
michael rhodes
I have been an admirer of Mr. Maugham since my high school years. He influenced in me at that early age to better understand humanity. His easy prose made more enjoyable its reading discovering for me other parts of the world with its mysteries and crude realities.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
sarah radke
Though i read this classic 35 years ago, when i saw it available free on kindle i read it again. It had deeper meaning for me now. Phillip experiences every pain and joy of being human and lives powerfully through the reader's eyes.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
christy everett
A period novel that gives great insights into life at the end of the Victorian period and in general. What drives us, what demons consume us, and does God and/or basic human decency have much to say in the outcomes of our lives?
The Bondage Breaker :: Of Human Bondage (Bantam Classics) :: The Bondage of the Will :: The Bondage Breaker Interactive Workbook :: How to Write a Sentence: And How to Read One
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
nalat
A great story with excellent characters, the central character, Phillip Carey, clearly modelled on Maughan himself. This book was written 98 years ago and although it has obviously dated it is Maughan's masterpiece. The book is accessible and enjoyable. Mildred is a great character. I would really recommend this book.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
norfaiz
Many of Maugham's books are ordinary, if always beautifully written, but this is a must-read masterpiece. Of all the thousands of books I've read, by authors ranging from awful to sublime, none have spoken to me more than this one. Nor have I ever empathised with a character as much as Phillip Carey, even though I despised him throughout most of the book. Read it.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
erinsabs
This exploration of one man's obsession with an unattractive woman must tug at the heartstrings of anyone who has loved and lost.
The social setting, 1900, shows how far we have come in caring for the vulnerable since then.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
vanessa hua
Well worth some of the tedium of going through the detail of the protagonist's art studies and other periods of his life in order to get the full impact of this study of the human condition and human nature. I saw a lot of myself in the character!
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
luke
An excellent example of a Bildungsroman, with the detailed process of how Philip managed to find his way in life. Very rich vocabulary, but not exaggerated - unpredictable twists of the plot grasp the reader`s attention
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
claire louise
An excellent description of the maturation of a young man deprived of that unconditional love of a parent for those important developmental years. Despite this lack and parental role models, he carries within him integrity and compassion.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
nathan paret
I loved all 3 movie versions I've seen, but thought Kim Novak's portrayal of Mildred was the most moving. It was she that I pictured in my mind while reading this classic tale of wanting, rejection and finally, love.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
nesa sivagnanam
You really cannot say enough about this tender yet ironic look at fin de siecle society and the dream of being an artist against the incessant draw of middle class comfort. It should be read by every hipster and wannabe artist, preferably before they reach middle age.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
ashley dusenbery
The similarities between Of Human Bondage and Jane Eyre are huge. Did Somerset Maugham realize that--want to do put a different religious outcome to the Bildungsroman?

See chart of similarities at my blog:

[...]

At 700 pages, this is quite a read, worth it if you want to understand Somerset Maugham. But personally, I'd stick with Jane Eyre and a more positive outlook.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
jonathan litton
OF HUMAN BONDAGE is considered Somerset Maugham's greatest contribution to English literature and is listed among the top 100 greatest books of all time. I have enjoyed reading it numerous times, and now I am leading a class of seniors at the local senior center with it. I have led this group for over thirteen years in English literature. I have lost many along the way but still have a few who have been with me the whole time.
We love to read!
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
holli blackwell
I've seen the older movie version of this book that stars Bette Davis. Then recently I saw a newer version staring Kim Novak and Larence Harvey in the lead rolls. I like that one even more!! So I decided I wanted to read the book. I was happily surprised to find it here for FREE for my Kindle. I have high hopes for the book.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
kiran sagar
At the beginning, it was a little slow but then it was awesome! I loved the way the author expressed all his feelings and emotions; it almost transported me there. I guess the message of the book is that you are bound to make mistakes along the way and that controlling one's heart is not such an easy thing to do.
I highly recommend this.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
samantha starsick
At the beginning, it was a little slow but then it was awesome! I loved the way the author expressed all his feelings and emotions; it almost transported me there. I guess the message of the book is that you are bound to make mistakes along the way and that controlling one's heart is not such an easy thing to do.
I highly recommend this.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
atieh
KNEW IT TI BE A CLASSIC AND HIGH ON THE LIST JUST NEVER HAD TIME............WAS GREAT...SLOW AT THE BEGINNING BUT ALL CAME TOGETHER. TO BE PUBLISHED IN 1915 AMMAZING..................SO GLAD I CAN NOW SAY YES, I READ THAT BOOK
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
joannebb
I have read several books by Somerset Maugham, some even twice .

In this book he describes very well the power of passion.
I have often seen that a physical handicap breeds strength of character and good intelligence,

The happy end in this book is interesting, he proposes marriage not as much by love as by affection.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
tria
It was the second best book I've ever read, after Moby Dick. The characters were very vivid, and many of the characters I had recognized from my own life, but I could never describe them the way he did.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
sabeena setia
In his Foreword to the book, Somerset Maugham warns the reader that autobiographical facts and fiction are inextricably mingled in it, though the emotions are his own. Certainly the autobiographical elements (the novel covers the first 30 years of Philip Carey’s – i.e. Somerset Maugham’s – life) are very strong, as you can see in the first two chapters of the excellent biography of Maugham by Selina Hastings (see my the store Review).

The long book pages is always very readable, though Maugham could not resist incorporating in it some episodes more because they interested him than because they were an organic part of the story. He describes everything in great detail, whether it is mundane (the interior of rooms, the appearance and clothes of almost every person in the book), poetic (landscapes) or psychological (characters or Philip’s thoughts and states of mind).

At the age of nine Philip was orphaned, and his uncle and aunt looked after him. His childhood makes for painful reading. His only relief was his love of reading. His uncle was the austere vicar of Blackstable (Whitstable), and he was sent to the preparatory school of the King’s School in Tercanbury (Canterbury) where the small boys grossly bullied him because of his clubfoot (stammer). The bullying eased off over the years, but he always felt apart from the others. In the senior school the arrival of an inspiring headmaster made a big difference to him. He worshipped him, and the Head got him to see that he was strong enough to see his clubfoot as a cross he could bear. Philip passed through an intense religious phase; but that passed, and he no longer wished to be ordained.

He got his way to leave school instead of staying to take a scholarship to Oxford, and went to a boarding house in Heidelberg where he was tutored in German, French and Mathematics, and attended philosophy courses at the university. With two of his fellow-boarders he had long discussions about religion, and suddenly found that he no longer believed in God. (Philip was still in his late teens, and Maugham describes his involvement with ideas from the perspective of a mature 40-year old.)

After a year in Germany, he returned to England. In Blackstable he makes his first painfully clumsy essay at an affaire with a coquettish but much older woman which, after many pages, mercifully doesn’t cone to anything. After that he went to London to work as an accountant’s articled clerk. He was lonely there and found the work boring. After a year he gave it up; and, because he was interested in art and had some facility as a draughtsman himself, he went to Paris and enrolled in an art school, just at the time when the impressionists were challenging the artistic establishment. He gives a long account of the opinions and characters of his ex-pat fellow students there. There is much here (as there is elsewhere in the book) about art, philosophy and religion. After two years he came to think that he would never be more than a mediocre painter, and returned to England. (Maugham was always interested in painting – later in the novel there is a fine passage on El Greco - and he would, later in life, acquire a distinguished art collection; but he never went to art school: this is the first passage in the novel in which Philip’s life diverges significantly from Maugham’s. Could that be why I found the twelve chapters devoted to this episode less captivating and more forced than the others?)

We return to Maugham’s life when Philip now decided to study medicine at St Luke’s (St Thomas’ Hospital). It is now, not quite half-way through the book, that he entered into the Bondage of the novel’s title. (It is taken from the title of part of Spinoza’s Ethics, in which he discusses the torment that can be caused by the domination of the passions). Philip had never been truly in love before, but he now became obsessed with Mildred, a waitress in a tea shop, who was common and unpredictable in her attitude to him, often rude to him and told him she did not love him; but he can’t keep away from her. He behaved masochistically, abased himself and hated himself for it. She twice left him for another man, was twice badly let down by the experience and returned to Philip. The second time he took her back out of pity, not out of desire – and this time it ended in a terrible and destructive way. Their tortured relationship is, sometimes tediously, off and on for much of the remainder of the book. It put Philip in one excruciating situation after another. The improbably and cruel story is so vivid that one thinks it must have corresponded with some real relationship in Maugham’s life as a young man, though there has been much speculation about whom Mildred represented.

While it is just possible that there was no one like Mildred in Maugham’s life, he certainly attributed to Philip his own hospital experience. He gained a compassionate insight into the lives of the poorer classes. He was a gentle and popular doctor.

But now it looked as if he would have to give up his medical training. He had spent too much money on Mildred, and he was tempted to speculate on the Stock Market and lost so much that he was utterly destitute – these pages make for painful reading. He had to take a humiliating and lowly-paid job as a shop-walker in a department store (another part of the book for which Maugham does not draw on his own experiences.) He then had an epiphany: he came to the conclusion that neither success nor failure in life was significant, and that made him happy. Events then bring his ordeals of the last two years to an end and he can resume his medical studies and he received his diploma.

The book might have ended with the conclusion of his studies and the prospect, hinted at earlier and consonant with Maugham’s later life, of travel to Spain or, as a ship’s doctor, to the Far East. Instead, we have, first, an account of him working as a locum in Dorset, and then idyllic scenes in Kent, where he joined a large and loving family which had befriended him and who were hop-picking there. Something dramatic happens there that plunges him anew into a whirlpool of emotions and self-reproach - before he ended, unexpectedly, in serene waters.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
rameza
The story is about his coming to age of Philip Carey, an orphan, with a club foot living in England at the turn of the last century. He lives with his cold uncle, a vicar, and eventually loses his childhood faith in that church. He retains his virtues, however, and even though the reader will become exasperated at his "love"-induced mistakes, he remains a sympathetic and well-drawn character.

There is nothing profound in the development of the plot, although it is generally believable with realistic and fascinating descriptions of poverty and various professions of the time. The often cited philosophical nature of the book consists in Carey's(appropriate for his character) mostly sophomoric reflections on god and art.

The character of Philip Carey is the reason that this is good book. Carey's statements and expressions do not reveal his inner struggles in the ordinary way that one expects of people. It is a wonderful experience, for the reader, to see the distinction between the public and private character. The book is a worthwhile and rare study of that type of person.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
cathy andrews
Seldom can one say that a great novel is relatively unknown. In the 21st century, this 1915 century masterpiece - and associated 1935 movie - are champions of the past.

Struggling times of the turn-of-the-century urban environments has made great American or British literature: The Jungle;Sister Carrie ;Brideshead Revisited;The Sheltering Sky;American Pastoral(second half of 20th century) and many more. It may be that those novels, and this, fed off one another.

Long stories following the growth of the boy to man makes this wonderful and emphatically great. This 250,000+ word tome does not overwrite. Indeed, the following of decades of a very unique existence is hammered away with economical effort. Only the love scenes of the lad with the wrong and right women make us understand that the main character is more than a sterile black-on-white resume where his accomplishments include best public schooling; study in Germany, painting school in Paris, medical school, accounting career, sales, dress designing and ultimately the practice of medicine - all before he turns 30.

We watch him grow. ". . . Phillip witnessed a series of work in which the vileness of mankind was displayed before him. He had never been to play in his life `till then. . . and the passion of the stage seized him." After numerous late night conversations laden with liquor and nicotine, Phillip surmises, "I don't see why the things we believe absolutely now shouldn't be just as wrong as what they believed in the past." Case in pont: the earth being round, not flat.

He and his comrades did in the 1915's what hipsters today do. But, instead of tobacco and hard liquor being the impetus to the philosophical discussion; bagels, caffeine and legalized or not legalized cannabis may the mind provoking substances. Nevertheless, the ultimate conclusions appear to be uniform.

But, the book is about "Human Bondage." Philosophers and 20th century industrial economists have very specific responses as to what that term may mean. To the author, it had religious, economic, emotional, and other far-reaching concepts. "He still looked upon Christianity as a degrading bondage that must be case away at any cost; it was connected subconsciously in his mind with the dreary services in the cathedral at Tercanbury; and the long hours of boredom in the cold church of Blackstable; and the morality of which Altheny spoke was to him no more than a part of religion which a halting intelligence preserved, when it laid aside the beliefs which alone made it reasonable,"

Then, in a lucid moment of starvation merging with propriety, he concludes, "The answer was obvious. Life had no meaning." "There was no meaning in life, and man by living served no end." But, to continue mankind, he must have understood that the least man could do was procreate. And, to make life better for the successors, mankind needed to afford better life through invention than what existed during the prior generation's care. But, he concludes, "It was immaterial whether he was born or unborn, whether he lived or ceased to live. Life was insignificant and death was without consequence."

Things change and so do those depressing, almost suicidal, passages. This is a great book, and at 500+ pages, it is a great well worth the long read. I wish this had been assigned to me in school. And, I am glad not to have overlooked this novel decades after the schooling.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
katie jones
I didn't realize the book had been made into a movie three times, but having just read that it was, I can understand why. This is a story of that which binds us all - emotions - and it is told so perfectly. This is a story of Philip who traverses so many hardships - his parent's early death, miserly upbringing, a physical deformity, the pursuit of a career that is practical but not impassioned, and unrequited love. It is the last of these hardships that takes center stage but it is moving to me because the lead character has these hardships and is always decent in his response. What is so heartbreaking and suspenseful is seeing where decent behavior will lead him.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
samm
Finished reading Maugham's of Human Bondage just now.

It is a good read and i enjoyed it, but didn't care much for the ending.

I've only read one other full length novel by Maugham: The Razor's Edge. Both have bad endings.

Notes to self:

visit Toledo and see more El Greco's paintings.
Read "Don Fernando", Graham Green hailed it as Maugham's best work in his Collected Essays, 1938.
Read "Looking Back" and see how Maugham "blew up his own monument."
On the book itself. What impressed me the most was still Maugham's cool and sharp observations. Completely rational, completely surgical. Nothing escapes his laser sharp eyes. He has a gift to sniff out human weakness. Including his own. Rather than accusing him of being cruel, I think he was more a surgeon, dissecting and exposing human emotions to the last final detail, more out of curiosity rather than cruelty.

His description on the madness of passion was so precise and true. He redefined the term "love-hate relationship". Instead of the common understanding of you love/hate the person at the same time, in Maugham's world it means, you hate yourself for loving someone so unworthy yet you can't stop loving her. One sees the comedy and sadness of it all. I wish i had read this in my younger days. I doubt it would have helped me in anyway, because you can't reason with madness, but at least it would have comforted me to know that I was not the only one, and certainly not the most ridiculous.

I read the Introduction by Gore Vidal after i was done with the book. Found this paragraph hilarious.

For seven decades Maugham had rigorously controlled his personal and his artistic life. He would write so many plays, and stop; and did. So many novels, and stop; and did. So many short stories... He rounded off everything neatly, and lay back to die, with a quiet world-weary smile on those ancient lizard lips. But then, to his horror, he kept on living, and having sex, and lunching with Churchill and Beaverbrook. Friends thought that Beaverbrook put him up to the final memoir (Looking Back), but I suspect that Maugham had grown very bored with a lifetime of playing it so superbly safe.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
mehdi soltani
Philip Carey tries to find his way in life in Somerset Maugham's classic Of Human Bondage. Born with a club foot and losing both parents early he is forced to battle his way through school, lonely and finding solace in books. He feels trapped at school and thinks traveling and studying on the continent will free him. Of course he is disappointed and finally returns to England where he studies medicine and falls in love with the despicable Mildred. He also makes and loses friends and falls into poverty where his lovely temperament and artistic skills provide a living. He comes into his own when he finally realizes that travel is not the answer. His kindness and gentleness are rewarded at the conclusion of the book.

The themes of coping with hardship and generosity make this an uplifting read.
★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆
brandylee13
I enjoyed Maugham's The Painted Veil very much - loved his story and characters. And so I thought I would give this a try. I'm 3 hours into listening to Of Human Bondage on Audible and I can't take any more.

It's too slow for me and I don't care for the main character at all. I'm sure it would get to somewhere eventually. I love classics-- like Middlemarch, or Return of the Native, or Count of Monte Cristo, or Vanity Fair, or Bleak House or Little Dorrit. But I can't take any more of Phillip.
★ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
joan huston
As a fan of British authors, I picked this up when I saw it listed as a "must-read" on a list of British titles. I think I made it through six chapters. I didn't like his writing style and didn't sympathize with the young boy at all.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
thulasi ram
Of the more than 235 books read by the Columbus Men's Book Club, 16 received average ratings above 95/100. Ranked 9th overall, Somerset Maugham's Of Human Bondage was a solid A+ and one of 10 with an average rating between 95 and 98.5.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
daena
What a picture of the human condition. I wish I had read this when I was 18 instead of now at age 50. The paths we choose are not our own. That which we think we want is not that which the whole soul desires. I will make sure my son reads this when he is older. The character Mildred may be one of the most despicable people in all of English lit, and though my modern sensibilities cause me to be sensitive to the difficulties and cruelties turn of the century women were made to endure, I could not but help compare her to my own personal Mildred of my youth. A cautionary tale for young men with good and kind hearts deceived by romantic illusions.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
laisi corsani
What a story! What an author! Can't believe I had never read Maughm before, but at 74 years old, have decided to to delve in to the old classics.

The author has the ability to describe feelings, characters, surroundings and color so that you feel you are a part of the story.

It takes you to a time one hundred years ago but the human emotions are the same as now. I hated for it to end!
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
pithee
Finished reading Maugham's of Human Bondage just now.

It is a good read and i enjoyed it, but didn't care much for the ending.

I've only read one other full length novel by Maugham: The Razor's Edge. Both have bad endings.

Notes to self:

visit Toledo and see more El Greco's paintings.
Read "Don Fernando", Graham Green hailed it as Maugham's best work in his Collected Essays, 1938.
Read "Looking Back" and see how Maugham "blew up his own monument."
On the book itself. What impressed me the most was still Maugham's cool and sharp observations. Completely rational, completely surgical. Nothing escapes his laser sharp eyes. He has a gift to sniff out human weakness. Including his own. Rather than accusing him of being cruel, I think he was more a surgeon, dissecting and exposing human emotions to the last final detail, more out of curiosity rather than cruelty.

His description on the madness of passion was so precise and true. He redefined the term "love-hate relationship". Instead of the common understanding of you love/hate the person at the same time, in Maugham's world it means, you hate yourself for loving someone so unworthy yet you can't stop loving her. One sees the comedy and sadness of it all. I wish i had read this in my younger days. I doubt it would have helped me in anyway, because you can't reason with madness, but at least it would have comforted me to know that I was not the only one, and certainly not the most ridiculous.

I read the Introduction by Gore Vidal after i was done with the book. Found this paragraph hilarious.

For seven decades Maugham had rigorously controlled his personal and his artistic life. He would write so many plays, and stop; and did. So many novels, and stop; and did. So many short stories... He rounded off everything neatly, and lay back to die, with a quiet world-weary smile on those ancient lizard lips. But then, to his horror, he kept on living, and having sex, and lunching with Churchill and Beaverbrook. Friends thought that Beaverbrook put him up to the final memoir (Looking Back), but I suspect that Maugham had grown very bored with a lifetime of playing it so superbly safe.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
denise b
Philip Carey tries to find his way in life in Somerset Maugham's classic Of Human Bondage. Born with a club foot and losing both parents early he is forced to battle his way through school, lonely and finding solace in books. He feels trapped at school and thinks traveling and studying on the continent will free him. Of course he is disappointed and finally returns to England where he studies medicine and falls in love with the despicable Mildred. He also makes and loses friends and falls into poverty where his lovely temperament and artistic skills provide a living. He comes into his own when he finally realizes that travel is not the answer. His kindness and gentleness are rewarded at the conclusion of the book.

The themes of coping with hardship and generosity make this an uplifting read.
★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆
peace love reading
I enjoyed Maugham's The Painted Veil very much - loved his story and characters. And so I thought I would give this a try. I'm 3 hours into listening to Of Human Bondage on Audible and I can't take any more.

It's too slow for me and I don't care for the main character at all. I'm sure it would get to somewhere eventually. I love classics-- like Middlemarch, or Return of the Native, or Count of Monte Cristo, or Vanity Fair, or Bleak House or Little Dorrit. But I can't take any more of Phillip.
★ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
ryan quinn
As a fan of British authors, I picked this up when I saw it listed as a "must-read" on a list of British titles. I think I made it through six chapters. I didn't like his writing style and didn't sympathize with the young boy at all.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
liz beltramini
Of the more than 235 books read by the Columbus Men's Book Club, 16 received average ratings above 95/100. Ranked 9th overall, Somerset Maugham's Of Human Bondage was a solid A+ and one of 10 with an average rating between 95 and 98.5.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
chad jen
What a picture of the human condition. I wish I had read this when I was 18 instead of now at age 50. The paths we choose are not our own. That which we think we want is not that which the whole soul desires. I will make sure my son reads this when he is older. The character Mildred may be one of the most despicable people in all of English lit, and though my modern sensibilities cause me to be sensitive to the difficulties and cruelties turn of the century women were made to endure, I could not but help compare her to my own personal Mildred of my youth. A cautionary tale for young men with good and kind hearts deceived by romantic illusions.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
lycaon
What a story! What an author! Can't believe I had never read Maughm before, but at 74 years old, have decided to to delve in to the old classics.

The author has the ability to describe feelings, characters, surroundings and color so that you feel you are a part of the story.

It takes you to a time one hundred years ago but the human emotions are the same as now. I hated for it to end!
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
jim garboden
The descriptions of people and places brought the people and places to life. I felt I could have been in the story as I seemed to experience the same feelings as some of the characters and would get upset with different ones for doing what they did or saying what they said.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
jennie rogers
This book is so entertaining yet moving. It is about a man's life journey and how he grows from his wide range of experiences- anyone can relate to it. This book is fun to read and Maugham has a beautiful way of describing things.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
jess baglione
When a friend wrote me to say Stilettos in the Sun by Nadel Harvey was "Of Human Bondage with a Latin twist", I was humbled to be thought of in the company of W. Somerset Maugham. I can only hope that the sequel will be as well thought of.
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