Fewer passages have resonated with me as much on a personal level than this one below from Somerset Maugham’s “masterpiece” (as some claim), Of Human Bondage (1915). Considered one of the greatest novels of the 20th century by Modern Library, many said upon its release that it was essentially a retelling of Maugham’s own life experiences, to which Maugham replied, “This is a novel, not an autobiography, though much in it is autobiographical, more is pure invention.” Whatever the case, it’s an intense and compelling story about what Spinoza called the “Strength of Human Emotions” in his philosophical treatise, Ethics.
“There is nothing so degrading as the constant anxiety about one’s means of livelihood. I have nothing but contempt for people who despise money. They are hypocrites or fools. Money is like a sixth sense without which you cannot make a complete use of the other five. Without an adequate income half the possibilities of life are shut off…You will hear people say that poverty is the best spur to the artist. They have never felt the iron of it in their flesh. They do not know how mean it makes you. It exposes you to endless humiliation, it cuts your wings, it eats into your soul like a cancer.”