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Of Human Bondage Paperback – January 7, 2013
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This month's Book With Buzz: "The Lying Game" by Ruth Ware
From the instant New York Times bestselling author of blockbuster thrillers "In a Dark, Dark Wood" and "The Woman in Cabin 10" comes Ruth Ware’s chilling new novel, "The Lying Game." See more
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"The modern writer who has influenced me the most." -- George Orwell --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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 an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Top customer reviews
Although he had a short, unhappy marriage and other heterosexual relationships and one child, Maugham was a stutterer and widely known to be gay. In his book, he called himself Phillip Carey, and gave himself a club foot as a disability, rather than the stutter, and Phiillip’s life, on balance, is an unhappy one. The plot, to this reader, was only marginally interesting, and it ended with theme or message which the author likely viewed as what readers of that day desired: a conclusion that man’s traditional pattern (work, marriage, children and death) was “the most perfect life”. Considering the title of the book, Spinoza’s sentiments on point, and the way Maugham lived his own life, the moral of Bondage seems disingenuous.
Maugham wrote more like a playwright than a novelist, unveiling his story almost exclusively via dialogue, providing a paucity of the descriptive passages that bring scenes, characters and feelings alive and thus render great novelists memorable. Maugham’s prose thus pales alongside Margaret Mitchel, Theodore Dreiser, Dickens, Hugo, Pasternak, Tolstoy, or even compared to the more current Tom Wolf, Ken Follet, David Gregory Roberts. In Maugham’s defense, in 1915, there many less forms of entertainment, and the reading-public had to be starved for interesting stories, and Bondage was interesting at some levels. Although this reader is in the minority on point, Maugham’s story simply wasn’t sufficiently interesting to warrant reading.
I have to confess my appreciation of Mildred Rogers the obsessive and destructive character who Phillip falls hopelessly in love with. A pretty teashop waitress who has visions of a high-class existence, she is flirty, a liar, cold, manipulative, and only goes with Philip when she has nothing else working for her. She is rude and insulting, and Philip constantly demeans himself while around her. She runs off with a man, gets pregnant, comes back to Philip who promptly drops a much better woman to accept her. When that doesn’t work and she abandons him again, he finally gives up on her only to have her destroy his belongings, become a prostitute and die of syphilis. Why do I like her? Because she’s the only clearing in the weeds where there are no stickers. Although despicable, she is a truly unforgettable character.
Maugham agreed somewhat with the autobiographical label, putting his wordy spin on it; “This is a novel, not an autobiography, though much in it is autobiographical, more is pure invention.” Huh?
Personally I prefer my classic reads to have more adventure, more lusty accounts of life. I’d rather read Dana or Verne than Austen or Bronte. So I’m glad I read “Of Human Bondage” again if for nothing more than to reaffirm my vigorous tastes.
Schuyler T Wallace
Author of TIN LIZARD TALES
I started this book with high hopes but I felt it dragged in the beginning and had problems identifying with any of the characters portrayed in the first few chapters. I absolutely hated Mildred and couldn’t understand Philip’s love for her. I almost gave up. What kept me going was Norah, the kind writer who loved him for all of his faults and also when Philip brought his old drunken friend home with him to die. That made Philip human to me and I wanted him to find happiness.
Mildred has to be the worst woman ever written about in literature. She really had no redeeming qualities to me and used men like toys to please her. Her end is worth reading the book because she really earned it.
Philip grows and learns in this novel into a man who anyone would love to have as a friend. I am happy that he finds the normal life is where his happiness and contentment are.
This turned into one of my favorite books and plan on reading it repeatedly.