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Of Human Bondage

W. Somerset Maugham

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Considered by many to be Maugham’s masterpiece, Of Human Bondage is a semi-autobiographical coming-of-age tale. The novel follows Philip, a sensitive young man interested in literature and art, as he searches for happiness in London and Paris. Philip, the ostensible stand-in for Maugham, suffers from a club foot, a physical representation of the stutter that Maugham himself suffered. Philip’s love life, a central aspect to the book, also mirrors Maugham’s own stormy affairs.

Maugham originally titled the book “Beauty from Ashes” before settling on the final title, taken from a section of Spinoza’s Ethics in which he discusses how one’s inability to control one’s emotions results in a form of bondage.

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