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Guide FOR THE LOVE OF BONDAGE

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Perhaps not since David Copperfield , an obvious inspiration No 15 in this series , had an English writer mined his own life so explicitly or so ruthlessly. Philip Carey is an orphan hungry for love and experience. Like Maugham, who was a homosexual with a bad stammer, he is afflicted with a disabling deformity, a club foot.

Of Human Bondage by W. Somerset Maugham

Raised by his clergyman uncle, the boy is imprisoned in late-Victorian vicarage life dreaming of his release from bondage, and praying to an indifferent God to have his disability healed. After a closely observed passage through boarding school, Philip escapes to study in Heidelberg, enjoys a brief spell as a struggling but failing artist in Paris, and then returns home.

Now begins the most poignant and memorable passage of the novel, Carey's hopeless affair with Mildred, a waitress. Maugham was a self-hating homosexual, and his picture of Mildred as Philip's love-object reflects the trials of a young gay man in the aftermath of the Oscar Wilde case. Mildred is "boy-like", vulgar and contemptuous of her crippled lover. She often betrays him, going off with his other men friends, steals from him, and scorns his sexuality. Theirs is a sad, on-off affair, during which she gets pregnant by another man, while Philip remains obsessively in love.

Finally, after a hideous crisis in which Mildred wrecks his flat and shreds his wardrobe, she leaves to become a Shaftesbury Avenue prostitute. Only then does Philip realise he no longer loves her. He escapes her spell just in time to redeem himself, and marry a girl called Sally, a sentimental conclusion that does no justice to the savage honesty that permeates the heart of the novel.

When Maugham discovered that this title had been used already, he borrowed his final title from one of the books in Spinoza's Ethics. It was published in Britain by William Heinemann on 13 August , during an annus mirabilis for British fiction.

The Spirit of Bondage and of Adoption

The novel's history is interesting. Maugham first wrote the manuscript that would become Of Human Bondage when he was 23, having just taken his medical degree after five years at St Thomas's. He sent it to Fisher Unwin which, while he was still a medical student, had published his first novel Liza of Lambeth to some acclaim. I had pity for Phillip, but, I also felt an intense feeling of how pathetically ridiculous it all actually was. Doting on a being that obviously has no love for you is pretty low. He fell for her wicked traps way too often, and I really wanted to grab Phillip firmly by the shoulders, and shake him!

Yes, Mildred was a vile creature. Misogyny was present here, which really was kind of laughable, as it took me completely by surprise. I understand that it was probably the attitudes towards women at the time, but it still doesn't stop me from saying how wrong it was, and still is, unfortunately. There are many human lessons in this classic, and even though I struggled with it at the beginning, there are many masterful aspects in this book, and it has been a joy to find them all. View all 12 comments.

Oct 18, Mariel 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.