Utne Blogs > Literature

Of Human Bondage, Reconsidered

 by Bennett Gordon


Tags: Great Writing, W. Somerset Maugham, Of Human Bondage, The Millions,

Cover of Of Human BondageOn a vacation many years ago, I misplaced my copy of W. Somerset Maugham’s classic novel Of Human Bondage inside an airport. As an airport employee asked my fellow passengers to whom the book belonged, both he and the crowd snickered as he read the title over the loudspeaker. I sheepishly reclaimed my book, embarrassed at the formative role the story had played in my maturation as a reader, all because of an anachronism in the title.

I’m glad I did retrieve the book, especially after reading Lydia Kiesling's recent review on the literary blog The Millions. Kiesling calls the Maugham’s masterpiece, “a healing salve for life's pernicious rash. It is a special shoe for the clubfoot of my mind.” The post is the latest in a series reviewing the books from the Modern Library’s 100 Best novels of the twentieth century.