of Human Bondage

Finished reading Maugham’s of Human Bondage just now.

It is a good read and i enjoyed it, but didn’t care much for the ending.

I’ve only read one other full length novel by Maugham: The Razor’s Edge. Both have bad endings.

Notes to self:

  • visit Toledo and see more El Greco’s paintings.
  • Read “Don Fernando“, Graham Green hailed it as Maugham’s best work in his Collected Essays, 1938.
  • Read “Looking Back” and see how Maugham “blew up his own monument.”

On the book itself. What impressed me the most was still Maugham’s cool and sharp observations. Completely rational, completely surgical. Nothing escapes his laser sharp eyes. He has a gift to sniff out human weakness. Including his own. Rather than accusing him of being cruel, I think he was more a surgeon, dissecting and exposing human emotions to the last final detail, more out of curiosity rather than cruelty.

His description on the madness of passion was so precise and true. He redefined the term “love-hate relationship”. Instead of the common understanding of you love/hate the person at the same time, in Maugham’s world it means, you hate yourself for loving someone so unworthy yet you can’t stop loving her. One sees the comedy and sadness of it all. I wish i had read this in my younger days. I doubt it would have helped me in anyway, because you can’t reason with madness, but at least it would have comforted me to know that I was not the only one, and certainly not the most ridiculous.

I read the Introduction by Gore Vidal after i was done with the book. Found this paragraph hilarious.

For seven decades Maugham had rigorously controlled his personal and his artistic life. He would write so many plays, and stop; and did. So many novels, and stop; and did. So many short stories… He rounded off everything neatly, and lay back to die, with a quiet world-weary smile on those ancient lizard lips. But then, to his horror, he kept on living, and having sex, and lunching with Churchill and Beaverbrook. Friends thought that Beaverbrook put him up to the final memoir (Looking Back), but I suspect that Maugham had grown very bored with a lifetime of playing it so superbly safe.