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Of Human Bondage Mass Market Paperback – 1 Jan 1920

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Product details

  • Mass Market Paperback: 628 pages
  • Publisher: Bantam USA; Reprint edition (1 Jan. 1920)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 055321392X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0553213928
  • Product Dimensions: 10.5 x 3 x 17.4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (96 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,389,686 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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"The modern writer who has influenced me the most." - George Orwell
"One of my favourite writers." - Gabriel Garcia Marquez
"A writer of great dedication." - Graham Greene

"From the Trade Paperback edition. --This text refers to an alternate Mass Market Paperback edition.

Book Description

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

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Customer Reviews

4.4 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

43 of 43 people found the following review helpful By Lee Gothard on 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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108 of 111 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 10 Feb. 2003
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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43 of 44 people found the following review helpful By reader 451 TOP 1000 REVIEWER on 4 April 2008
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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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on 20 April 2008
Format: Paperback
An absolute wonder of a book. The story revolves around Philip, an orphan with a club foot who searches hard for his place in the world. We witness the isolation of his early youth and his battle with mediocrity as he struggles to become an artist in Paris. He finds a vocation of sorts in medicine and there we witness his battles with poverty and being the victim of falling in love with the most terrible of people. If the book has a flaw it is his all consuming love affair.

There are traces of Jude Obscure in this book; however this novel is far superior and there are some discourses of real beauty. As with all of Maugham's work the writing is superb and you're drawn in from the first chapter. An absolute must read.
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