Of Human Bondage

Autobiographical features

Maugham had a stammer (instead of a club foot), lost his parents early in life, and was sent to live with his aunt and uncle. He studied medicine and his tastes in literature coincide with those of the main character in this book. Although Maugham was never an artist, he was interested in painting. He possessed in his private collection works by four painters mentioned in the book: Pissarro, Sisley, Monet, and Renoir. In The Summing Up, he discloses that he read Ruskin and became acquainted with many pieces of European art. Many of his other works are focused on this topic: The Moon and Sixpence (the main character has some resemblance to Paul Gauguin). Maugham wrote an article for Life magazine titled "Painting I Have Liked". Of Human Bondage is, probably, the most vivid instance of Maugham's inclination towards arts. According to Stanley Archer, more than 30 artists are named in the book, ten famous paintings are mentioned by name and many others are referred to. Over half of the 33 artists named in the novel were painters whose careers developed primarily in the 19th century. Of these, 13 are French, five English, and one, Whistler, is American. Eleven were alive at the time in which the plot of the novel is unfolding and five – Carolus-Duran, Degas, Monet, Raffaëlli, and Renoir – were alive when Of Human Bondage was published in 1915.[3]


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