Her mission was largely one of comfort to the suffering and the sorrowing; letters of good cheer went to far-away countries where her personal ministry could reach in no other way, and her writings are rich with sympathy and hope which have poured the oil of gladness into many a wounded spirit.
Pathos is not sadness, but it is rather the sunshine gleaming through a passing cloud, and hence the writings of Myrtle Reed are illumined with the gladsome light of unfailing love. Not only in her books and in letters to troubled souls, but also in her personal records, we find the unfading lines of a deeply devotional nature which was sacredly guarded from the careless observer and seldom discussed even with friends. But in this abiding faith was rooted the brave loyalty and high purpose which not only characterised herself, but also all of her productions.
The beautiful stories here presented have given pleasure to thousands of readers in the magazines in which they first came into print, and it is to the unvarying courtesy of the publishers that we are indebted for the privilege of thus binding the scattered grain into a single golden sheaf.
For the many letters of sincere sympathy which, in response to a formal request, have come from these stranger-friends, the editor is especially grateful.
"It is very difficult for a writer of my generation, if he is honest, to pretend indifference to the work of Somerset Maugham," wrote Gore Vidal. "He was always so entirely there."
Originally published in 1915, Of Human Bondage is a potent expression of the power of sexual obsession and of modern man's yearning for freedom. This classic bildungsroman tells the story of Philip Carey, a sensitive boy born with a clubfoot who is orphaned and raised by a religious aunt and uncle. Philip yearns for adventure, and at eighteen leaves home, eventually pursuing a career as an artist in Paris. When he returns to London to study medicine, he meets the androgynous but alluring Mildred and begins a doomed love affair that will change the course of his life. There is no more powerful story of sexual infatuation, of human longing for connection and freedom.
"Here is a novel of the utmost importance," wrote Theodore Dreiser on publication. "It is a beacon of light by which the wanderer may be guided. . . . One feels as though one were sitting before a splendid Shiraz of priceless texture and intricate weave, admiring, feeling, responding sensually to its colors and tones."
With an Introduction by Gore Vidal
Commentary by Theodore Dreiser and Graham Greene