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Of Human Bondage (Signet Classics)

Of Human Bondage - Maeve Binchy, Benjamin DeMott, W. Somerset Maugham A coming of age story like you've never read. Philip is born with a clubfoot and then ophaned. Both of these facts shape his self-image. The adolescent trials and tribulations we all face growing up seem to always reinforce his insecurities. Basically a good guy, but dominated by his angst and self-doubt, Philip lives -as so many of us do- in a state of self-imposed bondage, never emerging from despondancy to appreciate what beauty, promise, and hope do lie within his grasp. While he languishes in this state of mind, along comes Mildred... a self-centered, promiscuous, superficial, ill-mannered, ungrateful woman who somehow captivates his imagination. Philip's heartwrenching unrequited love for her is rendered so vividly, so intensely, the engaged reader feels something between horror and a relentless dull ache. Each page is turned with trepidation during this part, as a motorist when slowly passing a grotesque car wreck, wishing both to observe the spectacle, but also to look away. In the end, in what may be the finest, most heartening and relieving character developments ever, Philip overcomes all of these obstacles to emerge from his bondage and embrace the happiness that had always been there for the taking.Maugham enjoys good favor in literary circles, but nonetheless seems very underrated, given the quality of his work. My feeling is that Maugham (in particular: Of Human Bonadage and The Razor's Edge) has more of a timeless quality than other 20th Century greats such as Hemingway or Fitzgerald. This is purely speculation, but I think Maugham will stand out more from these peers as time passes. I would be interested in other peoples' opinions on this.