Of Human Bondage

Reply Fri 5 Sep, 2008 02:56 pm
I enjoyed doing the last one so much, thought I'd do another. I finished this a couple of weeks ago. *MINOR SPOILER*

Of Human Bondage
W. Somerset Maugham
ISBN: 978-1-59308-238-3
Publisher: Barnes and Nobles Classics

OVERVIEW: This is a rather imposing book; at 662 larger-paperback pages it takes a bit to read, but well worth it. If you're looking for action, adventure and exotic experiences, pass this one by. The story reads like a biography (which, supposedly was loosely based on the author's experienced) following young club-footed 'Phillip' from the day he is taken from the house where his mother's just died through his life up till he finds the girl of his dreams as a mature adult. As a matter of fact, the events described could very well fit into an episode of General Hospital or Another World. Written *beautifully*, you'll feel everything this man goes through. There are most-excellent insights into emotional quandries, financial woes, man's inhumanity towards man and other "towards the inner"-type themes. It reads well, but is a bit more wordy than necessary; fortunately, the style is consistent.


  • Coherent storytelling that's not just skin deep.
  • Vocabulary masterfully used
  • Emotional swells, well told
  • Insights into 19th/early 20th century European culture and economy
  • Stays with the reader mentally


  • Very long
  • Despite language being well used, the author's effusive style can drag on
  • Very few "large events" to hold reader's interest; be relaxed when you read this one


  • Being set up for Life's Disappointments (pp 37)
  • The morbid joy of self-loathing being realized and expressed (pp 51)
  • Paradox of God's faithful (pp 56)
  • First realization of reality's indifferent face (pp 129)
  • Finding the beauty of life even in its most dank, abject condition (pp 150)
  • Action (free will) or Reaction; realization of the latter (pp 228)
  • Death of Fanny (hung herself, after starving), very touching (pp 254)
  • The Over-Importance of Money in life (pp 270)
  • The rage of jealousy; that first pinch of hurt when young (pp 407)
  • Death and Christianity; reconciling the horror (pp 442)
  • Perceived reality/happiness - making reality's bleakness unimportant (pp 446)
  • Relationship of Truth, Beauty and Religion; intertwined (pp 472)
  • Epiphany of a self-directed life's meaning (pp 478)
  • Brutal truth of friendship as an ends and inevitable separation (pp 570)
  • Realization of an Indifferent World and Life's Meaning (pp 571)

Rating (1-10): 8.5
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