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Of Human Bondage

4.13  ·  Rating details ·  47,866 ratings  ·  3,167 reviews
Paperback, 684 pages
Published January 2nd 2007 by Signet (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 c…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)
shafi jourabchi This book had a profound and lingering affect on me which after almost 15 years since I last read it, not a week goes without me thinking about Philip…moreThis book had a profound and lingering affect on me which after almost 15 years since I last read it, not a week goes without me thinking about Philip, the main character. Life, regardless of circumstances, force certain bondage on us all. This book unmasks parts of our Human Nature rarely explored to such a depth and clarity. (less)

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Average rating 4.13  · 
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Jan 12, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

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, em
Feb 12, 2008 rated it it was amazing
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 rated it really liked it
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."
Vit Babenco
Jun 30, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Of Human Bondage is written in a charming language so it is a great pleasure to read every sentence in the book.
Life seemed an inextricable confusion. Men hurried hither and thither, urged by forces they knew not; and the purpose of it all escaped them; they seemed to hurry just for hurrying’s sake.

The riches of the novel are in its characters – there are many of all sorts and Somerset Maugham portrays his personages with the scrupulous psychological precision.
Insensibly he formed the most delig
I love the main character in this book so much, I was sad to say a final goodbye to him after spending 700 perfect pages with him.

"Of Human Bondage" is now among my favourite books of all times, inspiring so many reflections that my copy of the book is full of scrap paper with quotes and references.

Somerset Maugham explains in his introduction that he felt compelled to write down this story as it was tormenting his memory, in order to free himself from the ghosts of the past. It is not strictly
Joe Valdez
Mar 12, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction-general
The best novel I've read that wrestles with the meaning of life was once The Razor's Edge by W. Somerset Maugham. That honor now belongs to Of Human Bondage, written by Maugham thirty-nine years earlier. This voluminous, passionate epic of ideas and expectations concerns one Philip Carey, born with a club foot in London in the 1880s as he journeys into adulthood, encumbering relationships and suspending them, searching for his calling and his own answer to the question posed by so many 20th cent ...more
Oct 05, 2012 rated it it was amazing
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

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
Apr 21, 2013 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

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
Oct 08, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Those impatient with life
This is a masterful novel, the kind of work that reaches philosophical dimension without being one bit pretentious neither in ambition nor in execution.
A story of personal growth, of the meandering paths a young man needs to take, getting astray, losing his way, only to find his own tracks again to walk towards a meaningful end. Because this is what this book is about: finding the meaning of life, the random patterns that compose the texture of happiness, of fulfillment.

Philip Carey could be t
Jr Bacdayan
Jun 01, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
What is the meaning of life? This is the great riddle that Philip Carey tries to understand and throughout this book's pages reside the experiences that slowly shape his answer, each episode like a brush stroke on a canvas until slowly comes to life a picturesque painting or perhaps a horrifying image.

Carey was born with a clubfoot, became an orphan early, and was adopted by his uncle, a vicar, and his subservient aunt. He was raised a devout Christian, and was enrolled in education that prepar
Aug 17, 2016 rated it it was amazing
First from Maugham's Self-Loathing, Chauvinistic Closet

Before discussing the title, my thoughts on this superb 1915 novel:

Reading it was a strain, slow-moving until the protagonist Philip Carey went to Paris to study art, after which I found it fascinating, then infuriating and ultimately affirming. That is to say, I loved the parts about art and Paris and his relationship with Fanny Price, the poor and talentless soul who committed suicide; I detested his main love interest (a u
Nov 07, 2016 rated it it was amazing
When I read a book I seem to read it with my eyes only, but now and then I come across a passage, perhaps only a phrase, which has a meaning for me, and it becomes a part of me.

Sometimes you're needlepoint-focused, and at other times, everything is a blur. Sometimes everything around you seems tainted and ugly, and yet you see the beauty in something as simple as wet leaves falling from a tree and attaching themselves in colorful lines to each board of your backyard deck. And you wonder at t
~The Bookish Redhead~
Jun 09, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: classics
"Forgive them, for they know not what they do"

I love that quote. It is said nearing the end of this book, and it sums up how I should feel about a couple of characters in this book. I'm glad that Phillip was more forgiving.

I'll be frank, I went into "Of Human Bondage" completely blind, and the reason this book attracted me so much was the title. I thought I was going to be reading some sexy victorian novel, but I was definitely mistaken on that front. With my mind actively curious, I just dive
Oct 18, 2010 rated it really liked it
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
Jason Koivu
Jun 29, 2012 rated it really liked it
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 book
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
Jul 20, 2012 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
Sep 02, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: killer-prose, i-said, lod
“The secret to life is meaningless unless you discover it yourself.”

It took me a long time to read this story in its entirety. Perhaps that is because I was quite familiar with what the story was about, but I don’t think so. I need only reflect back on such classics as Gone with the Wind to know I can be held captive by stories even more familiar than this. Still there were sections of this story that for whatever reason did not resonate with me.

But, oh my, the writing. You know these days we
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
Jul 07, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
May 23, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2012, fiction
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.

Nov 13, 2013 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
Tadiana ✩Night Owl☽
DNF at 25%. This 1915 semi-autobiographical novel by W. Somerset Maugham just isn’t working for me. Of Human Bondage meanders slowly through the childhood and young adult life and times of Philip Carey, an orphaned young man with a rather tough life and a LOT of hang ups.

It’s insightful but prosy and very long-winded, with characters who aren’t particularly appealing making lots of poor decisions (and I didn't even get to the biggest one! Thank you, Wikipedia plot summary).

I know this is general
Rakhi Dalal
Jun 24, 2011 rated it really liked it
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
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
I pulled this off my parents shelves, a slightly battered paperback with a pale cover and read it at some point between my teens and early twenties. Looking over other reviews I can't say I recognise what they have to say, so I suspect (view spoiler)it's not a book that made a big impact on me.

The scene in which an other art student is found when she has hung herself in her brown dress sticks in my mind, along with the scene towards the end with the hop pickin
(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
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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

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“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.” 832 likes
“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.” 801 likes
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