Superfluous Matter
Books - Of Human Bondage, by W. Somerset Maugham

Regularly placed in lists of the top 100 English language novels, Of Human Bondage is also generally considered to be Maugham's best work. I bought a used copy over a year ago in my continuing quest to read more legitimate literature but just got around to reading it now.

I wish I'd read it sooner.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book, and I found myself constantly engaged by the thoughts and actions of the protagonist Philip. The book is described as auto-biographical fiction (i.e. fiction, but based on real life) and so I assume Philip's inner monologue sounds a lot like Maugham's. I mention this because at many points I found it also sounded like mine has at various points in my life. The story and Philip resonated with me to a great extent.

Maugham wrote the first draft of the book when he was 23. It was rejected for publication and so he shelved it for fifteen years. When he returned to it he did so with the perspectives of a mature adult. As a result he was able to take the clear and accurate raw material of his younger self and polish it with the help of his years of experience.

I found the result engrossing, but I imagine that would not be the case for everyone. Some of Philip's decisions and actions can be infuriating and I would not fault anyone for losing patience with the character. To me though it all felt very realistic and believable.

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