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Of Human Bondage Paperback – February 4, 2013

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Editorial Reviews

Review

“[Of Human Bondage] was an entirely new departure. Maugham, who usually cultivates a fastidious detachment, shows in this work a personal commitment that was unusual, sweeping the reader up in his own passionate intensity. Compelling and uncompromising, written with an unflagging energy and drive, the work could hardly be more different from any he had previously published . . . The story closely follow[s] the events of Maugham’s early life, with at its centre the terrifying experience of a masochistic sexual obsession.” —from the Introduction by Selina Hastings --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

From the Inside Flap

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 the Mass Market Paperback edition.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 792 pages
  • Publisher: Simon & Brown (February 4, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1613824181
  • ISBN-13: 978-1613824184
  • Product Dimensions: 7 x 1.8 x 10 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (325 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,793,039 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

230 of 233 people found the following review helpful By Vivek Sharma VINE VOICE on September 3, 2007
Format: Mass Market Paperback
W. Somerset Maugham's Of Human Bondage is one of the best novels I have ever read. The language is simple. The narration is subtle. The characters are real and display emotions and feelings everyone can identify with. The power of novel becomes apparent when you are reading it. You choke up every once a while, you smile for hours after you have finished reading certain passages, and you comprehend your own self, your woes and possibilities, better through perspectives that novel provides.

Philip Carey is born with a clubfoot, and as he grows up, orphaned, he struggles with his own deformity. The initial quarter of the novel is about his growing up, and details incidents and relationships that shape our hero. He then develops a fancy of becoming a painter and travels to Paris, only to quit few years later to return to London, where he studies to become a doctor. The most engrossing part of novel starts here with the entry of Mildred, the waitress.

The rest of the novel thrives on the passion of Philip, his love that carries him to the edge of self-destruction, and his coming of age. Unrequited love has never been potrayed better. Philip allows himself to become an instrument in hands of cold-hearted Mildred, who repeatedly ruins herself through absurd choices, and ruins him for not withstanding his love and care, he finds himself snubbed, ridiculed, bereft. Eventhough his reason tells him otherwise, Philip is unable to release himself from his passion for a considerable time. As is said in the novel, "But when all was said the important thing was to love rather than to be loved; and he yearned for Mildred with his whole soul."

The novel is lot more than just story of Philip and Mildred, and there are other unforgettable characters.
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155 of 168 people found the following review helpful By B. PERKINS on March 27, 2000
Format: Mass Market Paperback
I like this novel very much, but am always hard pressed to say why. Philip, the protagonist, isn't very sympathetic. The novel goes on at great length to describe several episodes that seem to be transparently taken from Maugham's own life. And I don't agree with Philip's lack of faith, although I understand it. Perhaps it has something to do with Philip's directionless nature, something most every young man can identify with. I read this first on graduating high school, wrote papers on it in grad school, and reread it again recently at the age of 34. Why? Because Philip is a very believable character. He suffers and endures, rather than swallow his pride when it would definitely be to his advantage. It's very easy to identify with someone who is so imperfect, instead of an idealized individual about whom you couldn't care less. Philip draws you in because he's so very human, flawed but purposeful, cynical yet still in possession of his dreams. Two last points: First, the novel is an _excellent_ look at London at the turn of the century. Reading this will teach you volumes about life as it was lived in this city, from its living conditions and social order to its worlds of medicine and bohemia. Second, the character of Mildred is the most callous, unfeeling individual I've ever met in print, although I've since seen many like her, both male and female, in my own life. Most likely, everyone encounters a Mildred sooner or later: better to meet her here first, where you can study her at your leisure. While I haven't found other works by Maugham nearly as interesting, this one has a special place on my bookshelf.
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192 of 210 people found the following review helpful By James Paris on July 18, 2000
Format: Paperback
What Buddhist burst of contemplation led to this great novel written by that "technician," W Somerset Maugham? Of all the great books of the 20th century, which one could compare with its raw nerve and sinew? Here are no word games, no playing with the chronology, no obfuscation. With the limpid prose that had become his trademark, Maugham took us by the most direct route into his own private inferno.
What in his hero Philip Carey was a clubfoot was for Maugham a painful stammer. What was Carey's public school at "Tercanbury" was Maugham's Canterbury. And, what is most interesting, what were Carey's tortured amours with the opposite sex were Maugham's tortured amours with the same sex. Yet with all the "translation" going on, the intensity of the feelings was transferred intact. The pain of Philip's on-again off-again relationship with Mildred has few equals in the literature of self-torture and self-delusion, ranking with Swann's pursuit of Odette de Crecy.
OF HUMAN BONDAGE is a big book. There are hundreds of characters; and many of the lesser characters are memorable. The ineffectual dilettante Hayward, the skeptical poet Cronshaw, the icily bland Mildred, the despairing artist Fanny Price, the treacherous Griffiths -- even the walk-on role of grumpy old Dr. South comes alive in the last few pages of the novel.
The settings are equally diffuse: London, the English countryside, Heidelberg, Paris, a Channel fishing village, and -- an amusing canard -- Toledo in Spain. (Carey is always dreaming of going there, but he never does.)
When one is young, life looks like a triumphant progress through love, fame, and wealth.
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