Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Of Human Bondage

Early this summer while I was stuck at home with a cold and poison ivy, I had the wonderful opportunity to read as much as I wanted. I had stumbled across a practically new copy of Of Human Bondage by W. Somerset Maughm at a thrift store downtown. It had recently been proffered as a suggested read for the Meredith College Alumni Book Club. I voted for it, but alas, it was not chosen. So, being stuck in bed, I decided it was the perfect time to read a 600 page classic. And boy did it end up being good! The story is about a young orphan named Phillip who is left in the care of his aunt and uncle after the death of his mother. He is sent to boarding school where he is made fun of for having a club foot. He is churlish and mean and leaves school early to travel abroad. He searches for the meaning of life; he becomes obsessed with a woman named Mildred. Phillip returns to her every time she casts him aside. I fully expected to hate Phillip throughout the course of the book, but he grows as a person as the book progresses. He learns to empathize with the poor and, most importantly, he learns to give and receive love. I liked Of Human Bondage much better than The Painted Veil by Maughm. There was a recent article in the NYT about Maughm that essentially labeled him a second class writer. I have to disagree. I thought Of Human Bondage was great!