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Of Human Bondage

Of Human Bondage by W Somerset Maugham
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William Somerset Maugham’s Of Human Bondage is generally considered to be an autobiographical fiction where the different events happening to the protagonist, Philip, stand for the hardships that Maugham himself faced throughout his life. The story begins when Phillip successively loses both parents and is sent to stay in his uncle’s vicarage in a small Kent village named Blackstable. Being taken from one of Spinoza’s works, the title alludes to the novel’s deeply-philosophical aspect and pressing existential and theological questions. The narrative recounts Phillip’s different experiences with women, mainly his rather masochistic love for the hospital waitress, Mildred, who keeps on disappointing him. It also speaks about his constant wavering between different fields of study, namely theology, art and medicine. His uncle’s collection of books provides him with continuous flights into the world of fiction and helps him enrich his imagination and worldly experience. By the end of the novel, Phillip seems to give up his philosophical idealism and to finally apprehend that life should be taken simply in order to be lived fully and happily. The happy resolution parallels Maugham’s life achievements as a wealthy and prized playwright and novelist.

Copyright Group; August 2013
466 pages; ISBN 9781780007526
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Title: Of Human Bondage
Author: W Somerset Maugham