The Story of Human Bondage

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In Of Human Bondage, William Somerset Maugham tells a story of a young man who spends his life trying to find his true calling. We traverse through his life in his own words, seeing it as he did, through the eyes of a young orphaned child living with his uncle who is a vicar and wants him to follow in his footsteps, to the man he finally becomes.

This young boy moves out of his uncle’s house and to follow his passion or what he believed to be his calling. He finds some semblance in art but that doesn’t give him the life he wants. He takes up an interest in medicine and starts to study to be a doctor. Then he dabbles in the stock market and loses all his savings. Being absolutely broke he is driven to take up a job at a retail store but his special skills are noticed and he does well enough to sustain himself. Once stable, he sets out again.

Throughout all this, he makes some interesting friends who shape his thinking and open his mind to the wonders of literature and travel. His ultimate goal thus being formed of him being able to travel to Spain one day.

His trysts with love are equally unsuccessful as his experiments with finding a passion that can support him. In fact, at one point he is constantly attracted to a woman who by all means is only using him. She cheats on him, steals from him, betrays him, comes back with another man’s child, breaks every rule in the book of companionship and yet he accepts her every single time, making you, the reader, want to shake him up and give him a piece of your mind. But love can be quite unexplainable, far beyond the frame of any logical understanding. This relationship too comes to an appreciable finality.

You would notice that I haven’t mentioned the name of the protagonist and that isn’t an omission on my part. It is rather deliberate. You see, this story could have any of our names in it and it would be just as true. Replace his name with yours and you’ll see life in the large canvas that the author has so delicately drawn for us. All the decisions you took, the dreams you started out with and the reality that faces you now, the innumerous times you have placed your trust in the wrong people, lovers that stabbed you, love, that saved you, and through all this your underlying need to find an identity for yourself. Your true purpose. It’s your life story. It’s my life story. It’s the story of anyone who dreamt of a better life for themselves and stumbled their way through, constantly redefining what happiness means to them and constantly developing a renewed understanding of their own self.

This book is all that and more.

A simple story told by an extraordinary storyteller.

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