Book Review- Of Human Bondage

Somerset Maugham was never on my reading list until early this year. Two reasons why it made it here:

a. I went to this awesome pub in Chennai- Moon and six pence at Hotel Hablis. The nam adapted from Maugham’s book was so catchy that I immediately wanted to read one of his work.

b. A friend of mine shared few lines from this book and I instantly fell in love with the thought process.

So, here I am. Almost two months after finishing this book, I am finding time to write the review.

of human bondage

My reviews, as usual won’t be long about description and plot. I don’t believe in writing such book reviews. Movies are different. You can tell about characters, acting, song, so much to explain. Books are an entirely difference genre. You should not know anything about it except the author and whether or not you enjoy such books. And to help you make that decision, I will put up “non spoiler” lines/ quotes from the book. And you’ll know if you like it as much as I do.

The book is a character study. A young boy  becomes an orphan, moves with his uncle and how he grows to become a fine aimless man, till he eventually finds his way into the big world and lives happily every after. That’s all that’s there to the plot. But the journey is Oh so beautiful.

I could totally relate to Philip. I am as clueless about my life as Philip was in the book- except that by now, he had quite figured out his passion! Nonetheless, the love and hatred, change of beliefs, passion towards fellow beings, friends, finding love, everything was so natural that you kept turning the page to know what’s gonna follow.

Below are few quotes- some of them are absolutely brilliant! 11,12 and 13 were my favourites.

1. She was a barren woman and even though it was clearly god’s will that she should be childless, she could scarcely bear to look at little children sometimes, her heart aches so- the tears rose to her eyes and one by one , slowly, rolled down her cheeks. Philip watched her in amazement. She took out her handkerchief and now she cried without restraint. Suddenly Philip realised that she was crying because if what he had said, and he was sorry. He went up to her silently and kissed her. It was the first kiss he had ever given to her without being asked. And the poor lady, so small in her black satin, shrivelled up and sallow, with her funny corkscrew curls, took the little boy on her lap and put her arms around him an wept As though her heart would break. But her tears were partly tears of happiness, for she felt that the strangeness between them was gone. She loved him with a new love because he had made her suffer.

2. 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 to you to bear only because your shoulders were strong enough to bear it, a sign of god’s favour, then it would be a source of happiness to you instead of misery

3. The companionship of Hayward was the worst possible thing for Philip. He was a man who saw nothing for himself, but only through a literary atmosphere, and he was dangerous because he had deceived himself into sincerity. He honestly mistook his sensuality for romantic emotion, his vacillation for the artistic temperament, an his idleness for philosophic calm. His mind, vulgar in its effort at refinement, saw everything a little larger than life size, with the outlines blurred, in a golden mist of sentimentality. He lied and never knew that he lied, and when it was pointed out to him said that lies were beautiful. He was an idealist

4. It seemed to him that he waited for at least 5 min, trying to make up his mind; and his hand trembled. He would willingly have bolted , but he was afraid of the remorse which he knew would seize him. It was like getting on the highest diving board in a swimming bath; it looked nothing from below , but when you got up there and stared down at the water your heart sank; and the only that forced you to dive was the shame of coming down meekly by the steps you had climbed up.

5. You will find as you grow older that the first thing needful to make the world a tolerable place to live in is to recognise the inevitable selfishness of humanity. You demand  unselfishness from others , which is a preposterous claim that thy should sacrifice their desires to yours. Why should they? When you are reconciled to the fact that each is for himself in the world you will ask less from your fellows. They will not disappoint you, and you will look upon them more charitably. Men seek but one thing in life – their pleasure.

6. Money is like a sixth sense without which you cannot make use of the other five.

7. It is cruel to discover one’s mediocrity only when it is too late. It does not improve the temper.

8. Love was like a parasite in his heart, nourishing a hateful existence on his life’s blood; it absorbed his existence so intensely that e could take pleasure in nothing else.

9. Sometimes he awoke in the morning and felt nothing; for he thought he was free; he loved no longer; but in a little while, as he grew wide awake, the pain settled in his heart , and he knew that he was not cured yet.though he yearned or Mildred so madly he despised her. He thought to himself that there could be no greater torture in the world than at the same time to love and to contempt.

10 beauty is put into things by painters and poets. They create beauty. In themselves there is nothing to choose between the campanile of Giotto and a factory chimney. And then beautiful things grow rich with the emotion that they have aroused in succeeding generations. That is why old things are more beautiful than modern. The ode on a grecian urn is more lovely now that when it was written, because for a hundred years lovers have read it and sick at heart taken comfort in its lines.

11. When I read a book I seem to read it with my eyes only, but now and then I come across a passage, perhaps only a phrase, which has a meaning for ME, and it becomes part of me; I have got out of the book all that’s any use to me, and I can’t get anything more if I read it a dozen times. You see, it seems to me, one’s like a closed bud, and most of what one reads and does has no effect at all; but there are certain things that have a peculiar significance for one, and they open a petal; and the petals open one by one; and at last the flower is there.

12. Of course I knew you never loved me as much as I loved you, she moaned. I am afraid that’s always the case, he said. There’s always one who loves and one who let’s himself be loved.

13. The only way to live is to forget that you’re going to die. Death is unimportant. The fear of it should never influence a single action of the wise man. I know that I shall die struggling for breath, and I know that I shall be horribly afraid. I know that I shall not be able to keep myself from regretting bitterly the life that has brought me to such a pass; but I disown that regret. I now, weak, old, diseased, poor, dying, hold still my soul in my hands, and I regret nothing.

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About Maya

Bored of the tedium and tired of the rut, I look for shelter in my imaginary hut; Behind these veils of propriety and decorum, I desperately seek a liberating forum; In my words and humor you'll find fire But beware and warned, It's all just Maya! Come, see my world through my window..

Posted on October 8, 2015, in Book Reviews and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. I haven’t had the courage to pick this up yet. But I definitely should

    Liked by 1 person

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