Man, Kurt Vonnegut might have been the bleakest dude to come out of the war generation. I wouldn't be surprised to see his picture next to the definitMan, Kurt Vonnegut might have been the bleakest dude to come out of the war generation. I wouldn't be surprised to see his picture next to the definition of a "pessimist" somewhere....more
In short, this is a book about life. All of us have things that hold us back. In the protagonist Philip’s case they are his clubbed-foot and the lackIn short, this is a book about life. All of us have things that hold us back. In the protagonist Philip’s case they are his clubbed-foot and the lack of guidance he had growing up. Born an orphan and raised by an uncle who never paid him much attention, the impressionable Philip must learn the hard facts of life on his own.
Early on he drifts from study to study, including art and accounting, unbound to any particular discipline due to the fact that each sacrifice of freedom they require makes him uncomfortable. He finally settles on becoming a doctor in his late 20s, but by then he has grown helplessly infatuated with a wretched woman who uses his kindness to get what she wants. The paradox is that he unconsciously becomes bonded to something so hideous that it compromises his judgement after all the drifting he’d done. His attachment to Mildred, which marks the first time in his life when he gave up his progress for someone’s happiness, ultimately made him miserable in all the ways he’d feared. The decision to be constantly forgiving and benevolent to her inspite of all her scandalous ways, suggests that the bonds of the heart are stronger than those of the mind, at least in Philip’s case. When this happens reason takes a back seat to obsession, and for that he is doomed to figure out why his philosophy has crumbled just beyond reaching adulthood.
As a grown man Philip yearns to travel, but once he meets another woman- one who treats him in all the ways Mildred should have- the broken bones of his childhood are finally able to heal. The losses that had caused him to drift from place to place in uncertainty slowly become mended, and he begins to find true meaning in a happiness caused by his decision to finally love a deserving person. It could be said that his bondage with Mildred was a lustful one, while the one with Sally was truly based on love, which I believe is what most of us are trying to find in life.
Somerset Maugham took this simplest of human conditions and created a masterpiece in the genre of coming-of-age classics. Though written over a hundred years ago, it’s still an easy read by today’s standards. There are many tangents on art and philosophy, all of which I found enjoyable, but may be a hindrance to a lesser humanist. Philip’s troubles seemed to run parallel with a lot of the issues I had growing up, so that’s given it some extra sentimental value, as I’m sure it has to many other young men. Reading this at age 30, it’s comforting to know that he finally found things in life worth settling on. I can only hope the novel has the same affect on other readers....more
Behemoth the cat is hysterical. The apartment raid had me laughing so uncontrollably that I had to leave the room where my friends were talking. "I chBehemoth the cat is hysterical. The apartment raid had me laughing so uncontrollably that I had to leave the room where my friends were talking. "I challenge you to a duel!"...more