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36 of 36 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars English literature at its best
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...
Published on 12 Aug 2008 by Lee Gothard

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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
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, spacing all over the place and some of it actually missing! I'm very disappointed with it but am struggling along with it because, as I know the book and know that it is actually a wonderful...
Published 3 months ago by Mr. James Paul Mccann


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36 of 36 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars English literature at its best, 12 Aug 2008
By 
Lee Gothard (Leyland, Lancashire) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
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
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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40 of 41 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A timeless classic, 4 April 2008
By 
reader 451 - See all my reviews
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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. Few novels are able to bring forth such a variety of places, people and situations so convincingly and with such depth. Ultimately the test for this sweeping portrait is that one feels one has stood in it many more times than once, so strong is the association with its protagonists. And if you have occasionally fallen for an idiot who wasn't interested in you, then reading this may provide a cure.
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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Very good, 8 Mar 2009
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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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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An eternal classic, 20 April 2008
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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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Like looking into a mirror...This book examines us all., 6 Sep 1999
By A Customer
I was completely shocked to find out that how much Philip Carey, a handicapped and introspective orphan, who longs for true love and the meaning of life was a portrait of myself. Maugham has written a book that is far deeper than any other great authors have ventured to go. One might fancy himself more aware of his existence if he reads a great deal, thinks of the human condition, longs for passion, rejects materialism, seeks pleasure in art and finds daily routine and common desires boring. But Maugham shows how one might just find that the true meaning of life does not come from great authors, philosophers and absolute idealism. In fact, Maugham (through Philip's eyes) sees beauty and a sense of power from meaninglessness of our lives (We are born, we live, and we die.) Maugham lays out peneratrating examination of poets, artists, philosophers, and religious figures blinded by their ideals as well as people we choose to be family, friends and lovers. Despite his violent urges to love and his insensentivity toward women who love him, Philip remains a very sympathetic figure who we try to understand because of his lonely life. Ultimately, he triumphs. By freeing himself from his 'ideas' of love and the meaning of life painted by great artists, writers and philosopher. He finally does something that is good for HIM. If you have to read one book in your entire life, let this be the one.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Beautifully written, excellent story- a masterpiece, 27 Aug 1998
By A Customer
Maugham's semi-autobiography. Incredibly well written. Holds your interest from beginning to end. You will think about it for a long time afterword.
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant!, 31 Oct 2006
By 
Mr. Philp Unsworth "Phil Unsworth" (Manchester, UK) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
Of Human Bondage is a ridiculously good novel, one which receives nowhere near the amount of credit and acclaim it deserves. The accuracy and skill with which Maugham describes Philip Carey's idealism, his subsequent disenchantment and his relationship with Mildred inparticularly (a glorious femme fatale)is astonishining, touching and haunting.

Maugham has been criticised for the lack of poeticism in his prose, a "flaw" he acknowledged himself. However, his writing is precise, lively and insightful, without been overly embroidered or wordy, and this benefits the reader no end in Of Human Bondage. Central themes and important passages have more impact and are believable and human, inviting much consideration and empathy.

All in all, this is a most wonderful novel, undoubtedly one of my favourites and I can't reccomend it highly enough. Enjoy!
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20 of 22 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Underrated epic, 22 April 2007
Although I relish a book like this, in that it is so well written and truly entertaining and there is a certain thrill and delight one receives when you know you are part of that small club of coming across a book of this brillance - a book not many other people have read or even know about, which on the other hand is unfortunate as I believe this book deserve a place on everyones bookshelf. The narrative rarely faulters if at all, this is truly a book of epic perportions full of passion, love, loss, hopes realised and hope dashed, a book about the strenght of the human spirit and how even when those around you drain all the goodness from you, you can still return love. Buy and read this book and you won't be disappointed.
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This book changed my life!, 12 July 1999
By A Customer
After an accident, I had a lot of time on my hands, and began to catch up on great classics. I picked up Of Human Bondage and couldn't put it down. Through the experiences of Philip Carey, I saw that I, like him, could do better with my life if I took charge and lived up to my potential. The fire the book generated stayed with me, and a few months later I quit my unsatisfying job and returned to college. To me, that's one of the marks of a great book: it makes you think and then act on what you learned.
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Of Human Bondage
Of Human Bondage by W Somerset Maugham
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