View Full Version : Somerset Maugham

11-21-2003, 01:16 AM
So, I read "Of Human Bondage" this summer, and first of all, I'd like to say that I loved it. It did occasionally get a little slow, but nothing terrible. Mostly, I loved all the questions it forces you to ask. He shows the female artist who dedicates her life to art, but is terrible. Then she dies, and her paintings are worthless, and her family doesn't even seem to care that she lived. The main character talks to his art teacher who tells him that although he has talent, he will never be great. So the MC quits art school and becomes a doctor.

Is it better to sacrifice your life for something that you will never be "great" at, or remembered for, or to give it up and do something you can be successful at?

11-21-2003, 08:05 PM
Philip truly is one of the best characters I've ever identified with personally, and also adore this book. (It's very autobiographical of Maugham as well... )

Philip had a very difficult life, lost his beloved mother early, and grew up in spartan household as an only child. It was very important for him to `become something' after all the years of his struggles with physical and emotional problems.

"He had heard people speak contemptuously of money: he wondered if they had ever tried to do without it."

"It is an illusion that youth is happy, an illusion of those who have lost it; but the young know they are wretched, for they are full of the truthless ideals which have been instilled into them, and each time they come in contact with the real they are bruised and wounded."

So ultimately Philip exposed himself masochistically to his professors' opinions, even though it brought him the courage to face his weaknesses and gain more control in his life.

Success is subjective, but as far as monetary success, it's pretty damn hard to live in this world without money, whether it's pre-1915 or now. I think the key is in finding the balance between self-fulfillment and `success'.

11-21-2003, 08:31 PM
That's dynamite, den.

11-21-2003, 10:28 PM

11-22-2003, 05:28 AM
Never read this but to answer your question if you have to do something purely for survival then there is no question. What I mean is that if you desperately need money I guess it's ok to give up doing something you love rather than die cold and hungry in the street. The key is, as den has told us, that happiness lies in balancing financial success and self fulfillment.

11-22-2003, 06:17 PM
Is death better than compormise?

From a purely idealistic standpoint I want to shout "Yes!", but do any of us have the courage to live it?

11-23-2003, 10:13 PM
is there an issue on which you are willing to compromise if death is your only other choice? i'm sure if one feels strongly enough about something or someone death is the only option.

11-29-2003, 08:41 AM
my favorite Maugham novel is "the painted veil" ...his short stories are really well crafted as well.

11-30-2003, 07:35 PM
If you have a passion for art, where to compromise that by doing anything else seems immoral, but your passion steals your happiness and even your life, then is it worth it?

If your are creating great works of art that will be remembered for generations, then I say Yes, it is worth it.

However, if your art is bad, and is worthless when you die, then was your sacrifice in vain? Would you have been better off selling shoes, or doing secretarial work?

Is that sruggle and pain worth something regarless of its results? Should all incompetent, struggling artists abandon their brushes?

Some things have to be worth giving everything for.

12-01-2003, 06:49 AM
to me the simplest and best answer to your questions is just be true to yourself, IMHO that's where true happiness lies when you can learn to do things not for it to be remembered hundreds of years from now but to satisfy yourself

01-25-2007, 07:25 AM
This is my second (first being my introduction) post in Lit Network Forum and needless to say I searched the place for Maugham posts.

I started Maugham with of Human Bondage while in 11th grade and since then there is no looking back. However, the book is on my re-reading list since then.

I re-read Razor's Edge few months ago and Larry is the only character that I fell in love with. Rather Maugham makes you fall in love with.

Cakes and Ale: delicious, truly delicious. He always wanted to be remembered for this book and perhaps the havoc it created when it was released. :flare:

I did read Fools and their Folly, and I like it because it was a Maugham. It aroused my interest in Machiavelli. Theatre is another good book, ends in wisdom IMO.

In the recent discussions on orkut(I know it is a lot spammed place but you get good discussions if you can dig them) and the books I read I feel that Maugham had something against women. They are negatively potrayed (morality is relative, I agree)..mundane, infidel, (men are always after something transcedental) and as I read his short stories I thought perhaps he was a misogynist.

Whatever, he will always be my first entertainer.