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Of Human Bondage

4.10  ·  Rating Details  ·  35,518 Ratings  ·  2,336 Reviews
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 Phili
Paperback, 611 pages
Published March 2nd 1999 by Modern Library (first published 1915)
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Bayard Miller This book has nothing to do with BDSM bondage and has everything to do with societal bondage. It's a coming of age story about an English boy with a…moreThis book has nothing to do with BDSM bondage and has everything to do with societal bondage. It's a coming of age story about an English boy with a club foot trying to figure out what he wants out of life. I know that doesn't sound too exciting but this is my favorite book of all time and I highly recommend you give it a read.(less)
The Republic by PlatoThe Odyssey by HomerThe Notebooks of Malte Laurids Brigge by Rainer Maria RilkeBeing and Time by Martin HeideggerFaust by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
Best books for humanities degree
53rd out of 154 books — 78 voters
The Princess Bride by William GoldmanThe Great Gatsby by F. Scott FitzgeraldOf Human Bondage by W. Somerset MaughamThe Night Circus by Erin MorgensternThe Time Traveler's Wife by Audrey Niffenegger
3rd out of 27 books — 3 voters

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(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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I fell in love with this book; it spoke to me, and I will aways have a strong affection for it. After three weeks of opening its pages virtually every night, I now find myself saddened that I can no longer turn to it. How can anything else compare?

Of Human Bondage is a classic in every positive sense of the word. Aside from The Brothers Karamazov, it is the only book I've read, whereupon finishing, I was able to say to myself: "This novel is life itself: it contains all of its complexities, emo
Sep 10, 2010 JSou rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

Nov 07, 2009 Trevor rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: literature
A lot of this book is quite harrowing – you know the drill, young boy orphaned and alone in the world and being brought up by people without affection. Public school nightmares, a child with a deformity that causes him shame all his life.

I was not surprised to learn that Maugham was homosexual, or bisexual, or trisexual – or whatever it was that he was. There are subtle hints to the fact throughout the book.

Young Philip, the central character (rather than protagonist, I think – as there is some
Nov 06, 2007 Kelly rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Has one of literature's great lines about reading:

"Insensibly he formed the most delightful habit in the world, the habit of reading: he did not know that thus he was providing himself with a refuge from all the distress of life; he did not know either that he was creating for himself an unreal world which would make the real world of every day a source of bitter disappointment."

The following is American Idol judge Nicki Minaj's critique of Of Human Bondage


Hello darling. You know that I'm completely obsessed with you right now. I just want to say first of awll that your mustache is very becoming. And that ascot gets me really hot and bothered. It totally Does! I'll be honest with you sweetie, it makes me think very naughty thoughts.

Now listen darling, I have 4 words for you: This book is everything !

Seriously, sweetie, it's on another lev-el. It's completely beyond. Y
Jan 16, 2016 Carol rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
What is the meaning of life? Well, the answer seems to be hidden in a scrap of Persian rug.

This is the story of an unforgettable fictional "character" named Philip Carey and his extremely tumultuous and tormented life from age 9 thru 30.

Poor Philip is only nine years of age when his beloved mother dies in childbirth and he is sent off to the vicarage to live with his strict, overbearing Uncle William and loving Aunt Louisa. Born with a club-foot and small for his age, Philip is shy and embarrass

Parthiban Sekar
Man cannot live alone, for which he has to rely on others for satisfying some of his needs, as Aristotle said: “Man is by nature a social animal”. Friendship and love, that we find in the very society we often dislike for its ill elements, are the only motivations and comforts besides our beloved ones to help us survive. Bonding, be in friendship or love, is how we find the people we want to be with and attach ourselves to them.

Like all men, Philip was born into this world where he wondered why
Aug 01, 2013 Paul rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: classic
This book grew on me; it sort of seeps into you. Maugham is a good story teller and his characters are drawn well. It is a story of obsession, desire and yearning for something beyond the ordinary run of life. The hero, Philip Carey is not a conventional hero; he has a difficult childhood, a club foot which deeply affects him, he's awkward and often uncomfortable with people. We follow Philip from childhood, the death of his parents, living with his very religious aunt and uncle, boarding school ...more
Mar 30, 2011 Mariel rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Mildrewed Philistines
Recommended to Mariel by: Trevor
Of Human Bondage used to be under my (re)tired "waiting-until-I'm-not-too-depressed" shelf on goodreads (it had no company. What's the time before birth? I'm gonna say purgatory anyway). Yeah, right. Jump, Mariel, jump! I'm glad it is out of the way. It's the uncomfortable conversations like religious people might feel if they are unstable in faith. The glimpses when someone points out to you a fact (weeeelll) about yourself that pulls off every straggled hair as it is yanked off. I started read ...more
May 28, 2016 Desislava rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: classics
“I want to have experiences. I’m so tired of preparing for life: I want to live it now.”

Somerset Maugham's novel Of Human Bondage is considered a masterpiece and rightly so. This is the story of how young Philip Carey grows up, struggles, and eventually assigns meaning to his life. It is a book full with a timeless themes - birth, life, friendships, love, death, obsession and the mysteries of the human heart.

The novel starts off when Philip Carey is orphaned and left to the care of his Willia
Oct 09, 2012 Rowena rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: All classics lovers
Shelves: classics
This was my first Maugham book and I'm very glad I was recommended it. The story was essentially the coming of age story of an orphaned boy who was born with a clubfoot.He tries to find himself in many different ways and places; in Germany, in Paris, in London etc.

I loved the parts of the novel which dealt with the Bohemian lifestyle in Paris. It was basically the stereotypical image one gets when imagining poor, struggling, artists. The characters I met in this section were among my favourites
Jason Koivu
May 22, 2013 Jason Koivu rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I had no idea what Of Human Bondage was about going in. I'd heard vague, unreliable rumors and I expected a dense, difficult read, perhaps a philosophical mind-bender or hell, by the title and date of its publication (1914) I wouldn't have been terribly surprised if it turned out to be a naughty Victorian era S&M novel (Can you imagine all those naked ankles? Forsooth!)

It's just a coming of age tale. I'm not even sure "tale" is the appropriate term considering how very autobiographical this
Jun 15, 2012 Mary rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, 2012
It is not very comfortable to have the gift of being amused at one's own absurdity. (p.350)

What beautifully flawed and frustrated characters Maugham created in Of Human Bondage! This book pulled me in quickly and I loved walking alongside Philip Carey, a boy born with a clubfoot and orphaned at a young age, as he struggled into adulthood. Every character in this story, whether a major player or a minor one, is so real and raw -- they are all alive and despicable in their own authentic ways.

Jul 07, 2008 Martine rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: people who are looking for the meaning of life
Of Human Bondage is a Bildungsroman which frequently makes you groan and mentally exclaim 'Oh, no!', only to blow you away with the power of its message and the perfection of its ending. Over the course of the 656-page book, the main character, Philip Carey, a young orphan born with a clubfoot, takes many wrong turns, mostly because he has taken it into his head that he wants to live the life of a romantic hero. He makes unwise career moves, recklessly spends money he should have saved, and gets ...more
Jul 13, 2016 Carmo rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: bib-p
O perfeito exemplo de como da singeleza se faz uma obra magnifica. Não é feito de palavras caras nem de gestos arrojados, não prima por ter personagens que nos marcam pela coragem ou pela ousadia dos seus atos, nem tampouco temos o suficiente para odiar um ou outro (bem, com a Mildred andei lá perto). O que nos atinge é constatar que qualquer um deles tem um pouco de nós, da nossa sede de liberdade, da nossa fúria de ir mais longe, das nossas inseguranças, duvidas e medos, das grilhetas que nos ...more
I am sure you will agree with me that there are books one is better off reading when one is older and more experienced. On the other hand, there are also books one should have read 20 years earlier. For me personally, ‘Of Human Bondage’ belongs to the latter category. It had been gathering dust on my father’s bookshelf for years (in German translation) and I never thought about it. To tell you the truth, this book crossed my path again because of ‘The Goldfinch’, an impressive Pulitzer-winning B ...more
Dec 07, 2014 Nicole~ rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: maugham
4.5 stars

It has sometimes seemed to me that if the author can in no way keep himself out of his work it might be better if he put in as much of himself as possible.

- William Somerset Maugham.

Of Human Bondage was written in 1915 following a philosophical theme that William Somerset Maugham was developing during his first novel. It is Maugham's semi-autobiographical novel.

Philip Carey, born with a physically deformed foot, is orphaned at a very young age. He is raised in the house of his stoic, r
First of all, I would like to thank William for recommending this book.

And also Mike and Heather for confirming how great this book is.

After reading the book, We Are Not Ourselves, and speaking how it was so character-driven, I was told how Of Human Bondage could pull some serious emotion from the characters as well. A story that is successful at building three-dimensional characters have this way of making you feel as though you are walking along with them through life, at least until this char
Rebecca Foster
(4.5) I chose to read this doorstopper from 1915 because it appeared in The Novel Cure on a list entitled “The Ten Best Novels for Thirty-Somethings.” By happy accident, I was also reading it throughout its centenary year. My knowledge of W. Somerset Maugham’s work was limited – I had seen the 2006 film version of The Painted Veil but never read anything by him – so I had no clear idea of what to expect. I was pleased to encounter a narrative rich with psychological insight and traces of the Vic ...more
Rakhi Dalal
Oct 17, 2011 Rakhi Dalal rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
Oh Dear me, “Why do you have to read a book to find some meaning out of it? Why can’t you just read it for the sake of reading the way it is narrated? May be to appreciate an author’s work if it appeals to you and to wonder how beautiful written word can be?”

When I picked up this book, I was at first annoyed by the very slow start of it. But gradually as I moved on, I started enjoying the narration. Maugham has very strikingly captured the various facets of Philip, the protagonist, as he contin
Jun 08, 2013 Tej rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
It doesn’t take much effort to decipher a point of distinction in one’s existence when the naiveté jolted out of its lugubrious slumber, shaken into reality groped for a meaning and a reason, previously un-conceived and unexpected, aided by a book, ideas that shook the very base of a citadel made-believe to have deeply entrenched roots only to be found suspended merely over fictional clouds floating in ether of one’s prejudiced and over-rated mystical, idealistic imagination. ‘Of Human Bondage’ ...more
I’ve come to the conclusion that in my life I’ve done a lot of waiting. Waiting for a school bell to ring, waiting to leave for vacation, waiting to go to university, waiting to hear back about that job, waiting to see a friend I haven’t seen in months: in short, waiting to live. Because implicitly, any act of waiting is an act of not living. That is, unless authors like Somerset Maugham write epic bildungsromans like Of Human Bondage and force us to remember, or at the very least to acknowledge ...more
Dave Russell
Mar 13, 2007 Dave Russell rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: novels, classics
Have you ever felt an author had stolen your thoughts and feelings and put them in a book? I felt that way through this entire book.
May 21, 2016 umberto rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Considered as one of my admirable novels, this book is definitely worth reading. Indeed I once had a Penguin paperback 40 years ago but, decidedly, gave it to a friend who wanted to read it; therefore, when I had this secondhand version at the end of last May I hoped to enjoy reading this novel partially based on Maugham’s life, its large thick fonts delight me all along its pages. As for those newcomers who have never read him, this novel is highly recommended due to his superb writing with goo ...more
peiman-mir5 rezakhani
داستانِ خوبی بود... البته این کتاب رو با دو ترجمۀ مختلف خوندم.. ترجمه ای از جنابِ جمشیدی پور و ترجمۀ دیگر از جنابِ افشار
البته از نظر بندۀ کوچک، ترجمۀ جنابِ جمشیدی پور شیواتر و ساده تر است... ولی ترجمۀ جنابِ افشار با وجودِ دشواری و پیچ و خَمِ زیاد، کاملتر هستش.. با احترام باید بگم، در صورتِ گزینش بینِ دو نسخه، من همان نسخه ای رو که ترجمۀ جنابِ جمشیدی پور، هست رو انتخاب میکنم، با آنکه اشتباهات نوشتاریِ زیادی در این نسخه دیده میشه
و امّا در مورد داستان باید بگم، نام کتاب ابتدا « زیبایِ برخاسته از خا
Jan Rice

Wikipedia image of the first edition

Of Human Bondage covers twenty years of living by a young man, Philip Carey, starting when he's a nine-year-old and loses his mother, herself recently widowed, to death during childbirth. The year is 1885. Thank you, Mr. Maugham, for giving me the year, although during the duration of the book I became confused and thought it had begun in 1875. But fortunately my first note was of the year, so I rapidly recalibrated. Some things then fell into place better, su
Não me considero digna de opinar sobre esta obra grandiosa.
Ouso, apenas, deixar um singela recomendação de leitura deste livro que fala da vida e do seu significado
Durante setecentos páginas convivi com uma das personagens mais humanas da literatura, na medida em que cada um de nós tem um pouco de Philip Carey.
Desde a infância acompanhei esta personagem fabulosa. Vivi a sua perda de inocência, a sua descrença no divino e no humano. Revoltei-me com os erros que cometeu, com as sua fraquezas. Sof
Has there ever been as achingly beautiful a beginning and as profound an end as Somerset Maugham’s Of Human Bondage?
I took many days to gather my scattered thoughts and utter a few words explaining how I felt while reading this book, but all I can say now is that it is the most powerful book I have read and everyone ought to read it.
Philip’s own experiences along with those of all his acquaintances will gradually lead him to solve one of the life’s most elusive enigmas which in turn could be
Stephen P
Feb 01, 2013 Stephen P rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: re-read
Originally published in 1915, Of Human Bondage, relies on the influence of external events rather than our post-modern style of internal fragmentation. Maugham's silken prose weaves the conventions, rituals, and rectitude of the time with the obsessions, passions, and desires about to rupture beneath. It is the the calmness of Maugham's elegant style which leaves us cringing breathless in the expectation of imminent explosion.

Orphaned, physical deformity, war, societal pressure, obsession with a
Aug 16, 2007 Meredith rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I tried and tried to get through this book. I stuck by Phillip hoping that eventually he would get his act together. It became quite tiresome to read about him making one pathetically wrong choice after another. He was a complete weakling and I could not get through the book because of it.

This novel has been stated to be one of the best books written. Perhaps I missed something great by not sticking it out to the end, but I just could not. There are too many other great stories to read.
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William Somerset Maugham was born in Paris in 1874. He spoke French even before he spoke a word of English, a fact to which some critics attribute the purity of his style.

His parents died early and, after an unhappy boyhood, which he recorded poignantly in Of Human Bondage, Maugham became a qualified physician. But writing was his true vocation. For ten years before his first success, he almost l
More about W. Somerset Maugham...

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“He did not care if she was heartless, vicious and vulgar, stupid and grasping, he loved her. He would rather have misery with one than happiness with the other.” 718 likes
“It is an illusion that youth is happy, an illusion of those who have lost it; but the young know they are wretched for they are full of the truthless ideal which have been instilled into them, and each time they come in contact with the real, they are bruised and wounded. It looks as if they were victims of a conspiracy; for the books they read, ideal by the necessity of selection, and the conversation of their elders, who look back upon the past through a rosy haze of forgetfulness, prepare them for an unreal life. They must discover for themselves that all they have read and all they have been told are lies, lies, lies; and each discovery is another nail driven into the body on the cross of life.” 607 likes
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