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Of Human Bondage (Modern Library) [Paperback]

W. Somerset Maugham
4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (77 customer reviews)
RRP: 8.99
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Book Description

20 Mar 1999 Modern Library
Selected by the Modern Library as one of the 100 best novels of all time

"It is very difficult for a writer of my generation, if he is honest, to pretend indifference to the work of Somerset Maugham," wrote Gore Vidal. "He was always so entirely there."
        Originally published in 1915, Of Human Bondage is a potent expression of the power of sexual obsession and of modern man's yearning for freedom. This classic bildungsroman tells the story of Philip Carey, a sensitive boy born with a clubfoot who is orphaned and raised by a religious aunt and uncle. Philip yearns for adventure, and at eighteen leaves home, eventually pursuing a career as an artist in Paris. When he returns to London to study medicine, he meets the androgynous but alluring Mildred and begins a doomed love affair that will change the course of his life. There is no more powerful story of sexual infatuation, of human longing for connection and freedom.
        "Here is a novel of the utmost importance," wrote Theodore Dreiser on publication. "It is a beacon of light by which the wanderer may be guided. . . . One feels as though one were sitting before a splendid Shiraz of priceless texture and intricate weave, admiring, feeling, responding sensually to its colors and tones."

With an Introduction by Gore Vidal

Commentary by Theodore Dreiser and Graham Greene

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Product details

  • Paperback: 656 pages
  • Publisher: Modern Library Inc; New edition edition (20 Mar 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 037575315X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0375753152
  • Product Dimensions: 20.4 x 13.5 x 3.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (77 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 815,628 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Review

"A superb storyteller - one of the very best in our language" (Daily Mail)

"The modern writer who has influenced me most" (George Orwell)

"Maugham has given infinite pleasure and left us a splendour of writing which will remain for as long as the written English word is permitted to exist" (Daily Telegraph)

"This semi-autobiographical novel, set at the end of the 19th century, gripped me from the start with its tale of the life of Philip Carey. Its depiction of how a man can become enslaved by an unsuitable love is unsparing" (Christopher Simon Sykes The Week) --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

Book Description

'A superb storyteller - one of the very best in our language' Daily Mail --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
35 of 35 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars English literature at its best 12 Aug 2008
Format:Paperback
An absolutely superb book. Having read and loved George Orwell and discovered he was a fan Maugham I decided to have a look at Of Human Bondage. Having finished it and given myself some time to reflect, I can say that it is the best book that I have read so far. I was so drawn in to the story of Philip Carey and his journey into adulthood that the 700+ pages flew by. I will also echo the sentiments of other reviewers that despite the fact that Philip could not by any means be described as a hero I still found myself caring for him and always hoping for a positive outcome even when the situation seemed so very bleak for him. This I think is one of the books strengths that despite the actions of the characters they are so well written that I still found myself wanting the best for them even Mildred.

I would highly recommend this book and consider it one of the classic pieces of literature which deserves to have been read by a much larger audience.
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100 of 103 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Meaning of (One) Life 10 Feb 2003
By A Customer
Format:Paperback
Of Human Bondage traces the life of Philip Carey from childhood to grown man. Too much happens in this novel to recount - it does, after all, deal with one man's life; but what I can say is that it is one of the most remarkable books I have read in a long while. It is sparingly, but exquisitely written. Wholly unsentimental, yet bursting with depth of feeling. Born with a club foot and orphaned from an early age, Carey is physically set apart from his fellows. Rather than seeking to make himself included, he deals with the cruelty and thoughtlessness of others by emotionally setting himself apart, thus fuelling his own sense of 'difference'. With the exhuberance of youth, in the pursuit of his own difference and yearning for passion and inspiration, he abandons his studies to travel, first to Heidelberg, and then to Paris, where he nurses ambitions of being a great artist. Maugham beautifully captures the idealism of youth which is slowly eroded as the protagonist comes to recognise his own mediocrity and lack of importance in the world. It is also a powerful study of a character brought up in the shadow of religion and who comes to understand himself, and others, only at the expense of his faith. Maugham's greatest achievement in this book is the character of Carey himself: complex, insecure, self-protective and arrogant, he is outwardly not the most sympathetic of people, and is most definitely not a hero. Yet his internal life is so richly drawn, so deftly developed, that one cannot help but care deeply for him. Through happiness, tragedy and suffering, he comes to realise that he is like all other men and yet resolutely himself, which is what makes him different from all other men. And so at the heart of this book lies the eternal riddle of existence, captured in passages which literally took my breath away. Highly recommended.
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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Very good 8 Mar 2009
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I finished reading this book early one Sunday morning, the sun shining outside in a blue sky, after a grey day full of drizzle the day before. The book has left me feeling that new starts are possible, that the world can be a good place, a beautiful place. I sometimes struggle with things and for a book to cause me to feel that way is really quite wonderful. It's a long book and very heavy on narrative. Hence it took me a while to read and I've put it down twice, reading two books in between. But I was pulled back to it because Maugham drew his main character so well and placed him in such settings that I needed to find out what happened to him. There's no plot as such and earlier in the book I felt that great swathes of it could have been cut with no detriment to the story, but as I neared the end I realised that the whole purpose of the book is to depict the developments in a man's life, over his first thirty years, the various experiences he had, good and bad, which moulded him into the person he became. Very enjoyable, enlightening, uplifting, inspiring.
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40 of 41 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A timeless classic 4 April 2008
By reader 451 TOP 1000 REVIEWER
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Of Human Bondage is quintessential Somerset Maugham and is, or should be, one of the classics of English literature. Don't be put off by its length; you will only wish it were longer by the time you finish it!

The book is set in the last decades of the nineteenth century and, apparently partly autobiographical, it tells of the growing up of a young orphan, his apprenticeship of art and then medicine and of course his painful tuition in love. Philip, the hero, is initially raised in an English country vicarage, the life of which is described with fetching authenticity. In fact, its realistic evocation of exotic settings, a typical feature of Maugham's writing, is one of the novel's undoubted attractions. Philip moves on to Heidelberg, then Paris among a community of artistic hopefuls and painting schools, and back to turn-of-the-century London, with its contrast of glitter and squalor, its top hats and workers' dorms, music halls and stockbrokers' clubs. There he becomes trapped in a tragic and sordid love affair that becomes so compulsive it threatens to enslave him.

If the hero's unrequited obsession is alluded to in the title, however, Of Human Bondage has a broader scope. Indeed it is - well - about life; but if that sounds pretentious, this is probably one of few works that can genuinely make that claim. The cast of characters is impressive in being both broad and convincing, and sufficient plot is granted each so that they can come alive. True, Maugham's sometimes acid, always witty and insightful style is at its best when portraying human faults. Purely positive archetypes are given briefer and just a little less compelling descriptions; but perhaps that is just reality.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Excellent service, book recieved, very pleased Thank you.
Published 4 hours ago by Nella
4.0 out of 5 stars very absorbing
A sweet and keen, timeless observation of human feelings. The privations faced by the protagonist are doubtless being faced by people in the poorer countries of the world every... Read more
Published 2 days ago by Mr. Robert P. Ogden
4.0 out of 5 stars Coming of age story
This novel describes the development of the hero of the story from childhood to adulthood. He grows from a repressed child into an interesting young man through travel, art and... Read more
Published 4 days ago by B E Rogers
1.0 out of 5 stars Don't buy this edition
Regardless of the merit of the book itself this edition - appallingly formatted - should not be for sale. It is literally unreadble and I will be asking for refund.
Published 29 days ago by Mr. N. C. Angel
1.0 out of 5 stars not for me
I saw this book recommended and thought it would be good to read. I read 15% but could not get into the story and was not enjoying it. Read more
Published 1 month ago by Julie
4.0 out of 5 stars Beautifully written story of someone's journey through life and love
Beautifully written story of someone's journey through life and love. Not necessarily particularly cheery (do not buy as Valentine's gift) but a wonderful study of one man's... Read more
Published 1 month ago by Anita C
1.0 out of 5 stars Poor download
Poor quality of download. I could not agree more with Mr Castlemead ....who also posted a one star review. Read more
Published 1 month ago by Pollyanna
1.0 out of 5 stars Classic book but poor quality download
Proof that sometimes modern technology ruins what should be a pleasure.
This download for some reason makes paragraphs in the wrong places by terminating sentences mid flow,... Read more
Published 1 month ago by Mr Castlemead
4.0 out of 5 stars the soul of a man as he discovers himself.
This exploration of self discovery compels one to admire the descriptive writing, be empathetic with the revaluation of imposed values and frustrated with the hero's stupidity. Read more
Published 1 month ago by maggie MIDHS
1.0 out of 5 stars Love the book - hate the kindle version
I love this wonderful book and was excited to read it again after many years in Kindle format. However, it is a terrible download with all of the paragraphs in the wrong place,... Read more
Published 2 months ago by Mr. James Paul Mccann
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