Of Human Bondage by W. Somerset Maugham


 

Portrait of William Somerset Maugham

Portrait of William Somerset Maugham (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Of Human BondageOf Human Bondage by W. Somerset Maugham

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Free download available at Project Gutenberg.

Chapter XXIII:

You know, there are two good things in life, freedom of thought and freedom of action. In France you get freedom of action: you can do what you like and nobody bothers, but you must think like everybody else. In Germany you must do what everybody else does, but you may think as you choose. They’re both very good things. I personally prefer freedom of thought. But in England you get neither: you’re ground down by convention. You can’t think as you like and you can’t act as you like. That’s because it’s a democratic nation. I expect America’s worse.”

Chapter XXVII:

He remembered his uncle’s saying that it took three generations to make a gentleman: it was a companion proverb to the silk purse and the sow’s ear. “First of all he’s the son of a gentleman, and he’s been to a public school, and to Oxford or Cambridge.”

Chapter XXXIII:

Mrs. Carey thought there were only four professions for a gentleman, the Army, the Navy, the Law, and the Church. She had added medicine because her brother-in-law practised it, but did not forget that in her young days no one ever considered the doctor a gentleman.

Chapter L:

“The artist gets a peculiar sensation from something he sees, and is impelled to express it and, he doesn’t know why, he can only express his feeling by lines and colours. It’s like a musician; he’ll read a line or two, and a certain combination of notes presents itself to him: he doesn’t know why such and such words call forth in him such and such notes; they just do. And I’ll tell you another reason why criticism is meaningless: a great painter forces the world to see nature as he sees it; but in the next generation another painter sees the world in another way, and then the public judges him not by himself but by his predecessor. So the Barbizon people taught our fathers to look at trees in a certain manner, and when Monet came along and painted differently, people said: But trees aren’t like that. It never struck them that trees are exactly how a painter chooses to see them. We paint from within outwards—if we force our vision on the world it calls us great painters; if we don’t it ignores us; but we are the same. We don’t attach any meaning to greatness or to smallness. What happens to our work afterwards is unimportant; we have got all we could out of it while we were doing it.”

Chapter LXVII:

“Well, I can’t say anything about other people. I can only speak for myself. The illusion of free will is so strong in my mind that I can’t get away from it, but I believe it is only an illusion. But it is an illusion which is one of the strongest motives of my actions. Before I do anything I feel that I have choice, and that influences what I do; but afterwards, when the thing is done, I believe that it was inevitable from all eternity.”

Another magnificent book written by Somerset Maugham which portrays once again his personal life. It is amazing why the author never worked as a physician.

There are three film versions of this book:

Of Human Bondage (1934) – Leslie Howard as Philip, and Bette Davis as Mildred, the role that established her as a star
Of Human Bondage (1946) – Directed by Edmund Goulding, with Paul Henreid and Eleanor Parker in the lead roles
Of Human Bondage (1964) – Laurence Harvey and Kim Novak in the lead roles

5* The Razor’s Edge
5* Of Human Bondage
4* The Painted Veil
4* The Narrow Corner
3* Liza of Lambeth
3* Ashenden
TR Cakes and Ale
TR The Moon And Sixpence
TR The Circle – A Comedy in Three Acts
TR The Magician

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4 thoughts on “Of Human Bondage by W. Somerset Maugham

  1. Pingback: Of Human Bondage (1934) | timneath

  2. Pingback: The Magician by W. Somerset Maugham | Pleasure of Reading

  3. Pingback: The Moon And Sixpence by W. Somerset Maugham | Pleasure of Reading

  4. I enjoyed the book also and have seen two of the three movies. Although I love Kim Novak (especially Bell, Book and Candle), Bette Davis is the one for this role.

    I haven’t seen any of these movies but I do agree with you, Bettie Davis is perfect as Mildred. Thanks for the like.

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