Of Human Bondage

  • by W. Somerset Maugham
  • Narrated by Charlton Griffin
  • 27 hrs and 44 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

Of Human Bondage is one of the greatest novels of modern times, and it is certainly Maugham's greatest achievement. It was published in 1914, when Maugham was at the height of his creative powers. The story concerns Philip Carey, afflicted at birth with a club foot, and his passionate search for truth in a cruel world. We follow his growth to manhood, his educational progress, his first loves, and the wrenching tragedies and disappointments that life has in store for him. In some of the finest prose of the 20th century, Maugham has presented us with the timeless story of one man's search for the meaning of life.
One of the main themes of the novel is the concept of ambivalence: how we are simultaneously attracted to - and repulsed by - people, objects, thoughts, and actions. Although this was not a new concept in 1914, in the hands of Maugham it was raised to a pitch of literary perfection.
Maugham thought of himself essentially as an entertainer, not as a moral philosopher or preacher. There is in his work an objective cynicism that is almost shocking at times. It is almost embarrassing to read Maugham's frank description of Philip Carey's innermost thoughts and Mildred Roger's callous disregard for anything that does not contribute to her narrow sensuality. But in the end, it is as an entertainer that we enjoy Maugham. His lively conversations and vivid descriptions will keep you listening in fascination.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

Of Human Bondage (Goin' Downton Abby)-Cello ovrlay

For whatever reason, the publisher decided to ruin the audible edition of this fine Somerset Maugham novel by a constant cello doggedly droning and frequently flaring.

I'd describe it as a cross between the background music often associated with a 1930s radio drama and what I'd imagine as the score from a Victorian-themed adult flick, say, something like "Going Downton Abby."

I couldn't enjoy the book for all the noise. In fact, I feel sick right now thinking about it.
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- W Perry Hall "One master-passion in the br east, like Aaron's serpent, swallows all the rest. A. Pope"

Greatly Unsettling

The writing and essential truth of the novel is compelling but the protagonist, who is a caring, intelligent, and thoughtful person, is buffeted by fate and his emotions control much of his life. I did not like the protagonist, even at the end of the book. Yet, this book is not about the protagonist, it had no action, and is not even a story of a journey of discovery, but is about an idea, and the book’s title “Of Human Bondage” resonates throughout the book.

This is a great book, but this is not a book to escape into, it is a book to experience and learn from. It was not a fun read, maybe not even enjoyable, but the book is subtle and powerful. As I read the various scenes, I would think “dumb kid”, then think of human bondage, and how his passions and environment bound him, and how elusive is the path to human freedom.

I just read this for the first time in my fifties, but I could see this book would have been even more powerful if read as a young adult. I would recommend this book to any adult, but especially to young adults. This book is unsettling in the best way. My advice, when the book seems off-putting, recall the title, and read on.

The short musical interludes and rare sound effects add absolutely nothing, and are distracting but do not ruin the experience.

The narration is really excellent, expressing conflicting emotions while remaining a very clear reading of the text.
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- Michael "I focus on fiction, sci-fi, fantasy, science, history, politics and read a lot. I try to review everything I read."

Book Details

  • Release Date: 07-02-2012
  • Publisher: Audio Connoisseur