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Group Read > Of Human Bondage - Sept. 2013

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message 1: by Alias Reader (last edited Aug 30, 2013 07:38AM) (new)

Alias Reader (aliasreader) | 17636 comments Read, Watch and Listen !

What's this ? A group Read of the book and also a discussion of the 1934 movie ! You can also listen to the audio of the novel. All are welcome and encourage to join in.

When?
Discussion starts Sept. 1, 2013. You just need to start the book on this date or see the movie. We will discuss both all month long.

Book:
Of Human Bondage by W. Somerset Maugham Of Human Bondage~

Author: W. Somerset Maugham W. Somerset Maugham
William Somerset Maugham CH was a British playwright, novelist and short story writer. He was among the most popular writers of his era and reputedly the highest paid author during the 1930s.
His wiki: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/W._Somer...

Where?
The discussion will take place in this thread.

Spoiler etiquette:
Please put a spoiler warning at the start of your post if discussing a major plot element. It also will help others if you put a chapter # at the top of your post.

Book Details:
Paperback: 556 pages
Publisher: wilder Publications (January 31, 2010)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1604599499

The book is available on audio and for e-Books

Synopsis:
Of Human Bondage is one of the greatest novels ever written. Philip Carey is an orphan with a clubfoot, he grows up to love books and struggles trying to understand why life has been so cruel to him. Then he falls in love, and his life changes forever.

Movie:
Of Human Bondage (1934)


A young man finds himself attracted to a cold and unfeeling waitress who may ultimately destroy them both.

Director:
John Cromwell

Stars:

Bette Davis, Leslie Howard, Frances Dee

*** Watch the movie on your computer !
Here is a link to movie on YouTube

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cbijwF...


message 2: by Alias Reader (new)

Alias Reader (aliasreader) | 17636 comments DISCUSSION QUESTIONS

1- When Mr. Perkins, the headmaster of King's School, tries to persuade Philip to go to Oxford, we are told that Philip "felt himself slipping. He was powerless against the weakness that seemed to well up in him" (p. 81). Is Philip's refusal to be ordained or to at least go to Oxford a weakness or a strength?

2- While Hayward believes in "the Whole, the Good, and the Beautiful" (p. 112), Weeks, defining himself as a Unitarian, says he "believes in almost everything that anybody else believes" (p. 114). How do these two outlooks compare with each other and with Philip's interpretation, at the end of the novel, of the Persian carpet design as a metaphor for the meaning of life?

3- After realizing that he no longer believes in God, why does Philip say to himself, "If there is a God after all and He punishes me because I honestly don't believe in Him I can't help it" (p. 119)?

4- When Philip starts to see how reality differs from his ideals, the narrator says that the young "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" (p. 121). Why does Maugham use a religious image associated with Christ's suffering to describe the suffering of disillusionment?

5- When discussing Philip's initial disillusionment, the narrator says, "The strange thing is that each one who has gone through that bitter disillusionment adds to it in his turn, unconsciously, by the power within him which is stronger than himself" (p. 121). What is this power?

6- After Philip leaves Heidelberg, why does the narrator tell us that Philip "never knew that he had been happy there" (p. 130)?

7- Why does Philip subject himself with masochistic obstinacy to Mildred's cruelty?

8- Do Philip's life choices reflect Cronshaw's theory about pleasure being the only motive for human action?

9- Why is Philip happy when he casts aside his desire for happiness?

10- Why does Philip think of "the words of the dying God" (p. 604) as he forgives humanity's defects, Griffiths's treachery, and Mildred's cruelty?

11- Why does Maugham end the novel with Philip and Sally's engagement?

12- Does Philip ever rid himself of idealism?

13- At the end of the novel, are we meant to think that Philip has found the freedom he has been looking for?

FOR FURTHER REFLECTI0N

~~ How much control do we have over whether or not we are happy?

~~ Is it possible to live without ideals?

~~ Can self-control be "as passionate and as active as the surrender to passion" (p. 437)?

* Penguin.com


message 3: by Alias Reader (new)

Alias Reader (aliasreader) | 17636 comments Of Human Bondage: Character Profiles

*** Do not read if you don't like spoilers.
Personally I like to print out the character list and stick it in the front of my book for easy reference. It helps me keep everyone straight. :)



Betty Athelny
Betty Athelny, Thorpe’s common law wife, came from a farmer’s family in Kent. She was a former servant in his house and quite handsome at one time. She is now the kindly mother and cook of the family.

Sally Athelny

Sally Athelny, the pretty eldest Athelny daughter, is charmed with Philip during his visits. She waits on him. She is a strong farm girl type and healthy like her mother,. She is an apprentice in a dress shop. She refuses a proposal from an engineer because she has always liked Philip. They fall in love on a hopping harvest in Kent, and he proposes to her when he thinks that she is pregnant. She becomes his future wife.

Thorpe Athelny

Thorpe Athelny, the ex-patient that Philip took care of, befriends him. He is living with an ex-servant woman and their nine children in an old grand house that is now a slum. He is 48, once married to a lady but unhappy, he leaves her and upper-class life for a life of simplicity. He works at odd jobs to keep his large family. He is something of a scholar and philosopher on his own and loves to talk to Philip, inspiring him with a love of travel.

Mrs. Helen Carey
Mrs. Helen Carey is Philip’s beautiful mother who dies after giving birth to a stillborn child, leaving him an orphan. She apparently loves beautiful things and is improvident with money. She loved Philip and felt sorry about his clubfoot. She dies six months after her husband. Before dying, she went out to a photographer to have likenesses for her son to remember her. She was a penniless orphan from a good family but splurged on items like grapes, flowers, clothes, and entertaining.

Henry Carey
Henry Carey, the younger brother of William, was Philip’s father. He was a successful London surgeon from St. Luke’s Hospital who died young of blood poisoning. He made a lot of money but spent freely, marrying one of his patients, who was an orphan without money of her own.

Mrs. Louisa Carey, the Vicar’s wife

Mrs. Louisa Carey, the Vicar’s wife, is Philip’s childless aunt. Shy and gentle, she raises him after his parents die. She tries to be kind but doesn’t know how to treat children. She intervenes whenever Philip is unhappy with her husband. She wears her hair in ringlets as in youth and gives Philip the money to study art in Paris.

Philip Carey

Philip Carey is the main character partially based on Maugham’s life. He is orphaned at the age of nine and goes to live with his uncle and aunt at Blackstable. Unhappy and alienated from others because of his sensitivity and clubfoot, he is raised as a gentleman with expectations of going into the Church. He rejects religion for art studies, and then accounting, and finally, medicine. He searches for the meaning of life through meeting various teachers and friends in England, France, and Germany, rejecting one philosophy after another, until he learns to live his own life. His primary and tragic relationship is with Mildred Rogers with whom he has a sordid and addictive bond. He finally marries Sally Athelny and becomes a doctor.

Mr. William Carey, Vicar of Blackstable

Mr. William Carey, Vicar of Blackstable, is a short, stout, old-fashioned vicar in his fifties in the Church of England, brother of Philip’s father, Henry. He takes in his nephew after the death of Philip’s parents. He is balding and rigid in terms of church doctrine, expecting his nephew to act like a small adult. He leaves enough money to Philip to finish medical school.

Herbert Carter
Herbert Carter is the accountant to whom Philip is articled in London to learn the business. He looks like a military man with a moustache. He tries to act like a gentleman and sends his son to Cambridge.

Ruth Chalice
Ruth Chalice is an art student in Paris who sleeps successively with all the art students but remains buddies with them. She is tall and thin and “wantonly aesthetic,” sensual and ascetic. She has some artistic talent and is praised by Foinet. She and Lawson have an affair.

Clutton
Clutton is an intensely serious and thin art student who keeps his work secret. Once he discovers El Greco, he destroys all his paintings in the style of the Impressionists, and begins over. He believes one can only learn from oneself. Everyone believes him a genius, but no one has seen his work.

J. Cronshaw
J. Cronshaw is a poet who published a few poems, in The Yellow Book and other places. He holds forth as a mentor to a young circle of English and American admirers in Paris. He undoes Hayward’s influence on Philip and teaches him a sort of Darwinian philosophy of life, devoid of morality. He advises Philip to leave Paris before he gets into a rut like he has. He goes to London to see his poems through the press before he dies, and Philip takes care of him as he dies.

Emma
Emma is Philip’s nurse from Devonshire. She loves Philip like a second mother, and he is devastated in being taken away from both her and his mother at once.

Professor Adolf Erlin
Professor Adolf Erlin is a teacher in a Heidelberg high school, where he teaches Philip German and Latin. His wife runs a boarding house where Philip stays.

Flanagan
Flanagan is an American art student in Paris, one of Philip’s friends. He has a jolly character and helps Philip after Fanny’s suicide.

Monsieur Foinet

Monsieur Foinet is the painting teacher at Amitrano’s in Paris. He is a brutally honest critic and tells Fanny Price her painting is no good. He tells Philip he is mediocre and to leave Paris before he wastes his life as he did.

Harry Griffiths

Harry Griffiths, a neighbor, is the handsome and kind medical student, who takes care of Philip when he is sick. Philip introduces him to Mildred, who falls in love with him. Heartbroken, Philip gives them the money to go off for a weekend together and then never speaks to Griffiths again. Griffiths is sorry about the fling for he has a hard time shaking Mildred when he is through with her.

G. Etheridge Hayward
G. Etheridge Hayward is an English friend of Philip’s in Germany who later moves to London. He befriends Philip in Heidelberg, taking him to plays and introducing him to aesthetic writers and poets. He is a dilettante who does not like to work. He is killed in the Boer War.

Frederick Lawson
Frederick Lawson is the good looking English art student who rooms with Philip in Paris. He eventually moves his studio to London where he is a successful portrait painter. He continues to be in the circle of Philip’s friends until Philip goes through his period of poverty. He is the one who introduces Philip to Norah Nesbitt.

Macalister
Macalister, Hayward’s friend, is a stockbroker and philosopher. He discovers the tavern in Beak St. where Hayward, Lawson, Philip and he meet to drink rum and talk. He advises Philip to invest money in the stock market, but the money is lost and Philip is forced to quit medical school for two years.

Mary Ann
Mary Ann is the maid at the Carey vicarage who mothers the young Philip. He spends time in the kitchen with her because she tells him stories.

Emil Miller
Emil Miller is the German businessman who courts Mildred and is the father of his child. She runs off with him to be “married,” but returns to Philip pregnant and unmarried, since Miller already has a wife and three children.

Norah Nesbit
Norah Nesbit is the plain but happy novelette writer who takes Philip in and cures him of his broken heart. She is everything Mildred is not: kind, motherly, funny, upbeat, happy, appreciative, intelligent, good company. She is in love with Philip, but he dumps her the minute Mildred comes back. She works as an extra on the stage and writes to keep her and her baby, for she is divorced. Eventually she marries a journalist.

Mrs. Lucy Otter
Mrs. Lucy Otter is the massiere, or studio manager, for Amitrano’s Art School in Paris. She is a divorced woman who lives with her mother and paints mediocre pictures. She is kind to Philip, settling him into the studio and giving him advice.

Mr. Tom Perkins

Mr. Tom Perkins is the headmaster of King’s School but not a gentleman. Son of a linen-draper and a day-boy when he had been there, he is brilliant and brings in new subjects and teaching methods. He tries to make friends with Philip, recognizing his intelligence. He encourages Philip to win a scholarship to Oxford to become a clergyman.

Fanny Price
Fanny Price is an art student in Paris who starves and commits suicide. She is in love with Philip but very unattractive and hard to get along with. She is proud and does not ask for help or lets on how bad her situation is. Although she works very hard, her paintings are not good. Philip is the one who finds her body, based on a note she sent him.

Mildred Rogers
Mildred Rogers is a pretty tea shop waitress with whom Philip falls hopelessly into an obsessive and destructive love. She is lower class but likes to put on the manner of a higher class that she has read about in novels. She flirts with men who might be her ticket out of poverty. She makes up stories about her genteel background and claims she only works for amusement. She only goes with Philip when she is not with someone else and is cold and manipulative. He debases himself to her, and she is rude and insulting. When she runs off with Miller and gets pregnant, she comes back to him for help. He drops Norah, a woman who is good to him, for Mildred who only destroys him. He helps her when she is pregnant, but when she runs off with Griffiths, he tries to get over her. When he will not take her back as a lover, she destroys his apartment. Eventually, she becomes a prostitute and dies of syphilis.

Mr. Sampson
Mr. Sampson is the buyer at the department store, Lynn and Sedley’s, who gives Philip a chance to design clothes.

Dr. South
Dr. South is the crusty but kind and lonely surgeon in Dorsetshire for whom Philip works for a short time. He treats the poor folk and offers Philip a partnership that Philip takes when he believes Sally is pregnant, so they can make a home there.

Leonard Upjohn

Leonard Upjohn is the pretentious literary critic and friend of Cronshaw who gets his poems published and writes a critical article giving him public notice.

Mr. Watson
Mr. Watson is the son of a rich family of London brewers, learning accountancy with Philip at the Carter firm. He dresses like a gentleman and has been to school. He is the only acquaintance for Philip at the firm.

Miss Emily Wilkinson

Miss Emily Wilkinson is a friend of Mr. Carey, a governess who lives in Berlin. She finds a school for Philip in Heidelberg. When she meets Philip on vacation at Blackstable, he has his first affair with her, though she is older (35-40). She is flirtatious, a modern woman who has picked up ideas and habits from living in Paris. She excites Philip and he thinks she will be a good first amour, though he is thinking more about sex than relationship. He is repulsed by her possessiveness and glad when the summer is over.


message 4: by Alias Reader (last edited Aug 27, 2013 10:54AM) (new)

Alias Reader (aliasreader) | 17636 comments Here are two trailers form Turner Classics Movie for the 1964 movie

http://www.tcm.com/mediaroom/video/16...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uUF9PX...

Here are two 1934 movie trailer from YouTube
Gotta love Bette in all are rage ! :)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UUqnVV...

***** This seems to be the whole movie on YouTube !!!!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cbijwF...


message 5: by Madrano (new)

Madrano (madran) | 3732 comments Wow--the entire film on YouTube? They've really added length, haven't they? Thanks for noting that for us, Alias.


message 6: by Alias Reader (new)

Alias Reader (aliasreader) | 17636 comments Madrano wrote: "Wow--the entire film on YouTube? They've really added length, haven't they? Thanks for noting that for us, Alias."
-----------------------------------

I was shocked myself.

I actually have the DVD waiting for me to pick it up at the library.

And who does a hissy fit better than Bette? :) She is the best.


message 7: by Madrano (new)

Madrano (madran) | 3732 comments I'm a sucker for her sweeter roles, such as in "Dark Victory" and the mentioned-elsewhere-here "Now, Voyager".


message 8: by Alias Reader (new)

Alias Reader (aliasreader) | 17636 comments I like Bette in Hush Hush Sweet Charlotte and What ever Happened to Baby Jane.
In these movies she is a lot older and C R A Z Y.


message 9: by Madrano (new)

Madrano (madran) | 3732 comments No kidding! Her reputation for those scary movies almost overran her glory days. Still, toward the end she made some good ones. For some reason i really liked The Whales of August. Maybe it was just seeing her as someone rather "real". http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0094315/


message 10: by Alias Reader (last edited Aug 31, 2013 06:30AM) (new)

Alias Reader (aliasreader) | 17636 comments I saw the movie last night. It's really dated. The picture quality is almost like a old news newsreel. They use the devise of letters to move the plot along quickly. However, I had a real hard time with the picture quality and the script writing to read them.

I am guessing a lot was cut from the book as the movie is 83 minutes and the story moves so quickly it's almost funny.

There is one dramatic scene where the background music is sort of like upbeat marching music. It's so funny as it doesn't fit the scene at all.

But that is what 1934 movies were like I guess.

It was fun to see Leslie Howard and Bette Davis early in their careers.

I'll wait to comment more after you all have seen it.


message 11: by Madrano (new)

Madrano (madran) | 3732 comments I see there is another, later, version, made in '46, starring Paul Henreid and Eleanor Parker. http://www.tcm.com/tcmdb/title/16119/... Anyone going to see it? I can't see whether it's available on DVD even. Interesting no one has made a more recent version. Ah, i see there is a '64 effort, starring Laurence Harvey and Kim Novak. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Of_Human...


message 12: by Susan from MD (new)

Susan from MD | 402 comments The 1946 one was on TCM a month or so ago, but I missed it! The Bette Davis one is considered the strongest of three versions, though different sites have different ratings. Netflix doesn't seem to have the 1946 or 1964 versions; Amazon Prime has the 1964 version for rent ($3.99 streaming). I may actually watch the 1934 and 1964 versions. It was interesting watching the different presentations of Dorian, so might be fun to compare.


message 13: by Jennifer (new)

Jennifer (jhaltenburger) | 177 comments As much as the '34 version seems almost caricature-like, Davis was noted for being willing to appear unattractive in it. Apparently few actresses were, then.


message 14: by Alias Reader (last edited Sep 01, 2013 06:55PM) (new)

Alias Reader (aliasreader) | 17636 comments Jennifer wrote: "As much as the '34 version seems almost caricature-like, Davis was noted for being willing to appear unattractive in it. Apparently few actresses were, then."
------------------------
I don't know if the movie is the same as the novel, but the story is very simple and melodramatic love story. It's not what I was expecting for some reason.

During most of the movie Bette is attractive. Her figure is very nice, full on top and a tiny waist. It's just at the very end where she is unattractive.


message 15: by Carol (new)

Carol (goodreadscomcarolann) | 830 comments I watched the 1946 film with Eleanor Parker and Paul Henreid on TCM.


message 16: by Alias Reader (last edited Sep 02, 2013 01:44PM) (new)

Alias Reader (aliasreader) | 17636 comments Did you like it Carol? I like Eleanor Parker.


message 17: by Carol (last edited Sep 03, 2013 10:38AM) (new)

Carol (goodreadscomcarolann) | 830 comments Yes Alias, I did like the movie, and Eleanor Parker's acting.

I haven't seen many black and white movies, even as a kid I didn't watch much TV. The 1960s was definitely a rebellious period. If I watch TV, I had terrible nightmares. My mom enjoyed watching TV, so I saw the news versions of the assassinations of JFK, RFK & MLK; the murder of the 4 girls at the 16th Street Baptist Church Bombing; the Manson Family Murders, and horrible images of the Vietnam War. (I was born in 1960.)


message 18: by Alias Reader (new)

Alias Reader (aliasreader) | 17636 comments I can certainly see why you wouldn't like TV. As a kid I just recall Gilligan's Island, My favorite Martian and Lucy. Shows like that. And of course cartoons on Saturday.


message 19: by Carol (last edited Sep 03, 2013 10:39AM) (new)

Carol (goodreadscomcarolann) | 830 comments Alias Reader wrote: And of course cartoons on Saturday."

I liked Saturday morning cartoons. Get up early, eat cereal in front of the black and white TV while your parents are sleeping. I loved my Beany and Cecil and propeller hat (my mom still has it.) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Nxhzah...

I also liked Lost in Space --
http://www.nationalenquirer.com/sites...
http://www.robotshop.com/blog/en/file...

But what I loved most (for some reason) was colorforms! -- http://pinterest.com/pin/269723465153...
I still have my Jetsons buried away somewhere in my attic -- click on image to see characters-- http://www.hakes.com/item.asp?Auction...


message 20: by Alias Reader (new)

Alias Reader (aliasreader) | 17636 comments I loved Lost in Space, too. I sometimes see it on the oldie station. Gosh is it dated. A guy in my office would always make us laugh as he did a good imitation of the Robot. "Danger ! Danger ! Will Robinson. "
7 second youtube of this. :)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=REvmhB...

I used to have colorforms. I also love Spirograph.

The Jetsons were good, too.


message 21: by Susan from MD (new)

Susan from MD | 402 comments Of Human Bondage to ... spirograph! I see it's not only my Determination List that y'all take on tangents! LOL.

I'm having a hard time getting into War & Peace so I'm switching over to Of Human Bondage. My edition (Modern Library Classics) as an introduction by Gore Vidal and Commentaries by Theodore Dreiser and Graham Greene. So excited to get started!


message 22: by Alias Reader (new)

Alias Reader (aliasreader) | 17636 comments :) BNC is the king of tangents.

That sounds like an interesting edition you have, Susan. If there are any interesting insights please do share with us.


message 23: by Susan from MD (new)

Susan from MD | 402 comments I read the introduction and found it interesting. Although I think of Maugham's novels - The Painted Veil, The Razor's Edge, Of Human Bondage, etc. - Vidal notes that by 1908, he had 4 plays running in the West End.


message 24: by Alias Reader (new)

Alias Reader (aliasreader) | 17636 comments I am sorry to have to say I can't read the book. Though I have watched the movie.

I just found out I need to move. This is going to be a huge stressful undertaking. I have a large apartment and need to get rid of a ton of furniture and stuff. Not to mention finding a place to move to.

Anyway, I'm sorry I can't read the book, but like I said I did see the movie and look forward to the discussion.

If anyone that is reading the book wants to take the lead please go right ahead.


message 25: by Susan from MD (last edited Sep 06, 2013 07:47AM) (new)

Susan from MD | 402 comments So sorry to hear this, Alias, as you always have great comments. Maybe there is an audio version you can listen to while you pack?

Anyway, we will carry on. I am still on the commentaries but hope to get some reading time in tomorrow.

ADDING MORE:

One of the things that was mentioned by Gore Vidal, by Theodore Dreiser and by the author himself is that he writes in a "plain" manner and that the "plainness" of his writing is part of what distinguishes him. Graham Greene calls it a "humility" in his presentation. There is a sense that he is not trying to write in a grand manner.

In the Foreword (I think - unless it was a quote in one of the commentaries/intro!), Maugham notes that he tried to write in a more elegant or lyrical way, but that he just didn't have it in him. It has been hypothesized that this may be a result of so many years writing plays, about which Vidal notes that his "dialogue is a slightly sharpened version of that of his audience" unlike Oscar Wilde and GB Shaw, who used more sophisticated or elevated dialogue that was more witty or intellectual.

Someone referred to his writing as succinct, but I don't think that's quite the word - at least in my early reading (up to p. 33) of the book, which contains some repetition of thought and is 600 pages. I would say that he tends to use shorter sentences and more straightforward descriptions than many authors. Unlike in The Picture of Dorian Gray, which had a fair amount of subtext (as our discussion notes), the key points Maugham wants you to understand, he explicitly states. This makes for a longer book but may in some ways explain his appeal for many readers.


message 26: by [deleted user] (new)

Oh sad to hear you can't read with us Alias! Moving is rubbish and so stressful, hope it goes OK for you. Glad you will still be able to discuss though!

I am on about page 150 of the book and am finding it rather depressing at times, in a quiet way. It is interesting but takes its time to get where it's going. I think I might just be heading towards the main part of the story now and I have a week off next week so I'm hoping I will be able to finish it then.

Susan, I find that really interesting about Maugham not considering himself a lyrical writer - when I read The Painted Veil in July I wasn't very fussed on the plot or characters, but I gave it four stars because I thought the writing, particularly the descriptive parts, was very beautiful at times. Based on that I would have definitely said Maugham was a lyrical writer. But in Of Human Bondage, he is much more succinct and less poetic. He is very good at getting into the heads of his characters though, which I really like.


message 27: by Alias Reader (last edited Sep 06, 2013 09:21AM) (new)

Alias Reader (aliasreader) | 17636 comments I am guessing the book is a lot better than the movie. The movie was a bit simplistic and melodramatic. I would say it's story of unrequited love. I would think at 600 pages the book has some subtle layers that the movie did not.

We have the movie link in this thread for those that didn't get the DVD.

Have you had a chance to see the movie, Susan ?


message 28: by Susan from MD (last edited Sep 06, 2013 09:19AM) (new)

Susan from MD | 402 comments Soph, I think Maugham is a "glass half empty" kind of guy, particularly when dealing with his own life/writing. He described Of Human Bondage as an autobiographical novel, as there is a fair amount of overlap with his own life. So, it seems like that depressed quality is part of who he was, at least when he wrote the book. Part of that is likely due to two things: his stuttering, which affected his ability to interact with people, and his homosexuality, which was challenging at that time.


message 29: by Alias Reader (new)

Alias Reader (aliasreader) | 17636 comments Soph wrote: "Oh sad to hear you can't read with us Alias! Moving is rubbish and so stressful, hope it goes OK for you. Glad you will still be able to discuss though!

I am on about page 150 of the book and am f..."

-----------
Thank you. My life is a bit up in the air right now. I am trying not to stress. And as you said so rightly, "moving is rubbish!".


message 30: by Susan from MD (new)

Susan from MD | 402 comments Alias, I haven't watched the movie yet - maybe today. I think it is streaming on Netflix, so I won't have to wait. I'll post thoughts once I see it - I watched it years ago but don't really remember the details.

When do you have to move? Do you have a little time or is it a rapid turnaround? Best of luck in finding a new place - hopefully, you can find someplace that can accommodate your furniture, etc.

One of the positive aspects of living in about 750 sq. ft. of space for the past 25 years is that I haven't accumulated a lot of stuff.


message 31: by Alias Reader (new)

Alias Reader (aliasreader) | 17636 comments You can watch the whole movie on your computer for free.

See post #4 for the link.


message 32: by Alias Reader (new)

Alias Reader (aliasreader) | 17636 comments They are selling the house. So I don't have an exact time frame yet. Houses in NYC move very quickly. I am guessing I have 2 months at most.

The rents are crazy high in NYC. So I am going to have to downsize a lot. As you can see, I am on the computer instead of doing stuff. It just can be so overwhelming. :(


message 33: by Susan from MD (new)

Susan from MD | 402 comments Alias Reader wrote: "I saw the movie last night. It's really dated. The picture quality is almost like a old news newsreel. They use the devise of letters to move the plot along quickly. However, I had a real hard t..."

I just watched the movie and, well, I hope the book is better!

It's not bad - Howard and Davis were good, and the rest of the cast did a good job. I think the problem was that I didn't feel like he was really obsessed with her. He seemed like a schmuck who loved her and was taken in by her, but I didn't sense an intensity.

I also was sort of ambivalent toward her (except for when she was tearing up his apartment and burning his papers) - she was obnoxious but I just couldn't manage particularly strong feelings.


message 34: by Alias Reader (last edited Sep 06, 2013 04:30PM) (new)

Alias Reader (aliasreader) | 17636 comments I hear ya, Susan. I watched it with my sister and she hated the movie.

Did you catch the scene, I think it is when she is leaving or some such "dramatic" part, and there was some background music. My sister caught that the music playing in the background was something upbeat like a marching song. We both had to lol.

I only know Leslie Howard from Gone With The Wind. I thought he was a wishy washy charter in GWTW. His looks aren't very manly. His character in Of Human Bondage is the same; wishy washy. So he was cast well.

Bette was her usual B**ch self. She was all out for herself and just used people. I think people like a moral to stories, especially so back then, so it was no surprise how she ended up at the end.

My sister and I couldn't read the letters at all. The quality of the film was too poor. Since the letters were the tactic used to advance the plot, this didn't help with our negative feelings about the movie.

Do you have an opinion on the title? Is is the bondage of love, even if it is unrequited ?

Sorry to be a downer, but I didn't care for it.


message 35: by Alias Reader (last edited Sep 06, 2013 04:49PM) (new)

Alias Reader (aliasreader) | 17636 comments In looking over the Discussion Questions in post #2 it's clear the book has more substance.

7- Why does Philip subject himself with masochistic obstinacy to Mildred's cruelty?

That's a good question. In the movie he seems to be hopelessly in love. Maybe because of his handicap, he can't believe someone like the Bette Davis character could ever love him back. That's kind of sad when you think about it.


message 36: by Alias Reader (last edited Sep 06, 2013 04:49PM) (new)

Alias Reader (aliasreader) | 17636 comments ~~ How much control do we have over whether or not we are happy?

I think there is a basic level of needs that need to be filled. Who's theory was that??? Oh yes, Maslow's hierarchy of needs.




message 37: by Alias Reader (last edited Sep 06, 2013 04:49PM) (new)

Alias Reader (aliasreader) | 17636 comments ~~ Can self-control be "as passionate and as active as the surrender to passion" (p. 437)?

Absolutely. I would put the religious (priests, nuns etc) in that category.


message 38: by Alias Reader (last edited Sep 06, 2013 04:50PM) (new)

Alias Reader (aliasreader) | 17636 comments ~~ Is it possible to live without ideals?

---


I googled ideals
From Wiki:
An ideal is a principle or value that one actively pursues as a goal, usually in the context of ethics. Ideals are particularly important in ethics, as the order in which one places them tends to determine the degree to which one reveals them as real and sincere. It is the application, in ethics, of a universal. It is roughly similar to the relative intrinsic values.

Someone who claims to have an ideal of honesty but is willing to lie to protect a friend is demonstrating that not only does he hold friendship as an ideal, but, that it is a more important one than honesty. Thus ideals can be seen to be similar to values.

However, the -ism of ideals is slightly contrasted with idealism (which is the doctrine that ideas, or thought, make up either the whole or an indispensable aspect of any full reality, so that a world of material objects containing no thought either could not exist as it is experienced, or would not be fully "real.")
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I don't know if this is what the question is driving at. I think people need hope and dreams. Even if they are unrealistic. It is what helps you to get up in the morning even when things seem quite bleak.

Ideals... I am really not sure. If one defines the term as Wiki does as ethics. I think many people maybe not ethical in all aspects of their lives. A few probably not at all. Of course it can be a matter of degrees. It's so individual.

The Bette character... I don't know. Was she just trying to survive? Is that ethical?
Howard character... I would say more idealistic. I don't think ethical fits.

I am not sure about this question at all. Maybe if I read the book it would be clearer than the movie.


message 39: by Susan from MD (last edited Sep 06, 2013 07:48PM) (new)

Susan from MD | 402 comments Alias Reader wrote: "Do you have an opinion on the title? Is is the bondage of love, even if it is unrequited ?"

A note on the title - in the Foreword, Maugham says that the original title was Beauty from Ashes from Isaiah but that it had been recently used for another book. He chose the new title from one of the books in Spinoza's Ethics.

Notes on Ethics from wiki: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ethics_(... - this is a complex view that describes the relationship between God and people, and between people:

The fourth part, "Of Human Bondage," analyzes human passions, which Spinoza sees as aspects of the mind that direct us outwards to seek what gives pleasure and shun what gives pain. The "bondage" he refers to is domination by these passions or "affects" as he calls them. Spinoza considers how the affects, ungoverned, can torment people and make it impossible for mankind to live in harmony with one another.

I think in the case of the title, it can be applied in several ways. The bondage of love - how it can torment and hold a person - this was apparent in the film, but in the book Mildred only comes into the story at p. 265 (my version).

From the first 50 pages or so, I think there is also the bondage of acceptance or sense of belonging - the need to be accepted into a group or a family - is seen early in the book, as he is an orphan and child with a club-foot and is sent to boarding school. The challenges he faces in wanting to be accepted, wanting love and warmth are a struggle for him, as he often feels left out and at least initially at school is tormented because he is seen as a "cripple". This is sort of the "passion" of a child, so not a sexual desire, but another human need.

There is also, I think, a sense that human frailty is a form of bondage - God plays a greater role in the book, as his uncle is a minister and it is assumed that Philip will become a member of the clergy as well. There is a longing to be "worthy". There is a point where Philip wants his foot healed and after hearing that "faith can move mountains" and that if the prayer does not come to be, he is not devout enough. He prays for his foot to be healed and when it doesn't, it makes him even more sensitive.


message 40: by Carol (new)

Carol (goodreadscomcarolann) | 830 comments Hi, I'm sorry to admit that I don't have the time to read this book. My older son got a huge promotion from his employer, and is moving from CT to Austin, TX. He got $$ for relocation and he just got approved for his condo today.

Now this week, we will search everywhere to purchase all that he needs (furniture, appliances, bedding, everything you need in a kitchen and bathrooms, plus food. . . ) and ship EVERYTHING to his condo next Sunday afternoon. He is flying out next Sunday morning --1 plane change-- and will hopefully be there when the deliveries arrive! My younger son will be moving in with him at the end of the month, so more to do. But as a designer, I'm happy that they want me to do it.


message 41: by Alias Reader (new)

Alias Reader (aliasreader) | 17636 comments Congratulations to your son, Carol ! That is terrific news. :)


message 42: by Alias Reader (new)

Alias Reader (aliasreader) | 17636 comments Susan wrote: A note on the title - in the Foreword, Maugham says that the original title was Beauty from Ashes from Isaiah but that it had been recently used for another book. He chose the new title from one of the books in Spinoza's Ethics.

-------------

Thanks for the info on the title. I like Of Human Bondage much more. I think it fits the story, the one in the movie anyway, much better.


message 43: by Alias Reader (last edited Sep 07, 2013 07:00PM) (new)

Alias Reader (aliasreader) | 17636 comments Susan wrote: - is seen early in the book, as he is an orphan and child with a club-foot and is sent to boarding school. The challenges he faces in wanting to be accepted, wanting love and warmth are a struggle for him, as he often feels left out and at least initially at school is tormented because he is seen as a "cripple". This is sort of the "passion" of a child, so not a sexual desire, but another human need.
------------
Interesting. The need for love and to fit in. And how his clubfoot exacerbated that need. I guess that is why he let her treat him so poorly. The notion that, I am not good enough for anyone to love.

I thought it was odd in the film that he seems to have surgery or something and the clubfoot is fixed. Maybe I am misremembering. First, I wasn't sure exactly what a clubfoot was. For some reason I connected it to one leg being shorter and thus the platform shoe. I was wrong. Second, I didn't know it was possible to be fixed as I still see adults with the shoes. But maybe that is from some other issue.

Here is more on it at Wiki
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Club_foot

Susan wroteThere is also, I think, a sense that human frailty is a form of bondage - God plays a greater role in the book, as his uncle is a minister and it is assumed that Philip will become a member of the clergy as well. There is a longing to be "worthy".

Interesting idea. I need to think about this a bit more. Human frailty is a form of bondage. By frailty do you mean we have a choice? If so, that is sort of empowering. If everything is preordained... well, aren't we sort of just puppets acting out a script already written? Can we even be held responsible for the things we do if that is the case.

I hope you don't mind me jumping in with just the movie under my belt.


message 44: by Carol (new)

Carol (goodreadscomcarolann) | 830 comments Alias Reader wrote: "Congratulations to your son, Carol ! That is terrific news. :)"

Thanks! Time for transitions . . . It was much easier when he went to live in Boston, at least we could take a 2 hour drive up. But moving to Texas is a bigger challenge regarding travel. Direct flights are usually full (3 hr. trip) and multiple flights/changing planes, on average, takes about 6 hours, including layovers in Chicago or Baltimore. But what can you do?


message 45: by Alias Reader (new)

Alias Reader (aliasreader) | 17636 comments Long air travel can be a pain. Also it's hard to be so far away from loved ones. However, focus on the bright side. Lots of uninterrupted time on the plane to read ! And of course the terrific promotion your son received which advanced his career greatly.


message 46: by Susan from MD (last edited Sep 08, 2013 09:06AM) (new)

Susan from MD | 402 comments Alias Reader wrote: "Susan wrote: There is also, I think, a sense that human frailty is a form of bondage - God plays a greater role in the book, as his uncle is a minister and it is assumed that Philip will become a member of the clergy as well. There is a longing to be "worthy".

Interesting idea. I need to think about this a bit more. Human frailty is a form of bondage. By frailty do you mean we have a choice? If so, that is sort of empowering. If everything is preordained... well, aren't we sort of just puppets acting out a script already written? Can we even be held responsible for the things we do if that is the case.

I hope you don't mind me jumping in with just the movie under my belt."


How we respond to frailty (physical and emotional) is a choice and is part of what can bind us to God. In the book, Philip's headmaster says regarding his foot:

"I wonder if you're not over-sensitive about your misfortune. Has it every struck you to thank God for it?" AND "As long as you accept it rebelliously it can only cause you shame. But if you looked upon it as a cross that was given you to bear only because your shoulders were strong enough to bear it, a sign of God's favor, then it would be a source of happiness to you instead of misery."

Philip also has emotional frailty in that he is prone to self-pity and doubt; he also isolates himself from others. He gets angry when people notice his foot and yet is upset when he feels that they do not give the consolation he feels he is due. He lashes out at anyone who gets close. In the early part of the book, you can see the beginning of an obsessive behavior - when he drives away a friend/schoolmate (last name Rose) because Rose has many other friends. Philip wants all his attention and is jealous of time spent with others - he eventually drives Rose away by being too possessive and angry.

I'm glad you are jumping in whenever you can!


message 47: by Alias Reader (new)

Alias Reader (aliasreader) | 17636 comments Susan wrote: "I wonder if you're not over-sensitive about your misfortune. Has it every struck you to thank God for it?" AND "As long as you accept it rebelliously it can only cause you shame. But if you looked upon it as a cross that was given you to bear only because your shoulders were strong enough to bear it, a sign of God's favor, then it would be a source of happiness to you instead of misery."

Interesting. I appreciate you posting that quote. Though I personally don't buy into the idea of a God purposely creating misery. Just my own view.

I so wish I had time to read the book as I think the topic is a fascinating one. I can see the book has many more layers then the simplistic movie.


message 48: by C.D. (new)

C.D. Mitchell (cdmitchell) | 1 comments "Though I personally don't buy into the idea of a God purposely creating misery. Just my own view. "

I guess you never read about Job, or are you gonna say "Gawd" didn't create Job's misery just the Devil. But "Gawd" allowed it to happen to win a bet he made with the Devil himself. That is why I don't see gambling as a sin, but that is another discussion.

If "Gawd" is also the creator of all things, then he created Hell as a place of misery for those who fail to kneel and serve him.


message 49: by Alias Reader (new)

Alias Reader (aliasreader) | 17636 comments Welcome to Book Nook Cafe, C.D.

Thanks for sharing your thoughts with us. I guess I was talking more of my own spirituality and not the bible or organized religion. If that makes sense.

You do make a good point !

Are you reading Of Human Bondage or watching the movie with us?
If so, what are your thoughts on this novel/movie ?


message 50: by Susan from MD (last edited Sep 09, 2013 11:14AM) (new)

Susan from MD | 402 comments To be clear, I wasn't talking about my own beliefs, but rather about a possible interpretation of the book.

I don't think the book was talking about God "creating" misery as much as it was saying that no one is perfect/everyone has weaknesses - we all have limitations that we have to learn to live with. In Philip's case, he was not able to change his club foot at that time, so the headmaster was trying to get him to deal with it in a more positive way. Thus, rather than internalizing his awkwardness and pain by withdrawing from others and becoming isolated, or externalizing to become more aggressive (which also ended up leading to social isolation), he was recommending to Philip to let go of his anger and accept his limitation (or his cross to bear) - to see it as something God gave him because he is strong in other ways and can handle this weakness.

Sort of a version of the Serenity Prayer: God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; courage to change the things I can; and wisdom to know the difference. Philip was over-sensitive about his foot and, although it did sometimes separate him from the other boys, he also used it as an excuse for his behavior.


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