#3. Of Human Bondage: A Book that Gets Better with Life

Now, when you think of ‘masterpiece’, you think of something unheard of before, a book that experiments with form and style, something not common at all.

In view of all that, Of Human Bondage doesn’t quite fit the bill. It’s as classic as can be. Yet this book feels intimate as few books can. It tells the story of Philip Carey who has just lost his mother. From then on, we’ll follow him as he goes through life and meets a variety of people. The book is mammoth-sized, and I remember how deeply satisfied I was upon finishing it.

I read Of Human Bondage when I was twenty, months before I set off for university – which was going to be the most determining part of my life. And my main takeaway from this book is you have to accept things as they come. Such is life. You will have all kinds of things come your way, and somehow, they are all parts of life’s greater designs.

That is not to say that I fared exceptionally well thanks to what I learnt. Far from it, being in my early twenties at the time, I lived life as it came; I drew a line between fiction and my life. That was a mistake. Instead of exhibiting acceptance at life’s events and an awareness of what would come, I questioned things and didn’t see how they were falling into place.

At 27 now, and no longer the boy I used to be, I realise that Of Human Bondage is a masterpiece. There is no denying this fact. What Somerset Maugham writes in this book is no more theoretical, as I can see them happening in my very own life. I think I need to give it another read one of these days, for the nostalgia and to absorb things that may have eluded my younger self.

For, you see, Of Human Bondage is a book about life, the kind that gets better the older you become.

2 thoughts on “#3. Of Human Bondage: A Book that Gets Better with Life”

  1. I’ve read some Maugham but not this one, so will obviously have to seek it out… It’s so interesting how our responses to books change as we age – I’ve often said that if i’d read Anna Karenina as a teenage I would have felt completely differently about it than I do having read it at an older age.

    1. Oh yes, considering the type of books that you like, I’m pretty sure you will enjoy Of Human Bondage!

      And for Anna Karenina.. I actually read it when I was 20, haha. I thought it was a masterpiece back then. The funny thing when you read books at a young age is that you are still curious to see how your present, older self will react to those very same books!

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