Updated: Jan 28, 2021
So I recently read this novel, magnificent obsession. I'm not very fan of novel books, but sometimes novels are good. In Magnificent Obsession, the author keeps our attention with an interesting story and is constantly feeding us his philosophy while the story is going on. Now whether you agree with his philosophy or not, I have to admit that he's good at putting it out there. Lyoid Douglas who wrote this novel was a former minister and by his death in 1951 more than 7 million copies of this book were sold. He was the highest-selling author in American publishing history at his time. He considered his novel to be a purpose novel.
Douglas stated that the thesis of Magnificent Obsession is how to get what you want and be what you would like to be by practicing a secret formula. The story revolves around the secret formula and is designed to convince readers that following the principle of service will lead to a happy life and if you follow the secret formula, you can have anything that you want. The secret formula comes from a Bible verse that says when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing. and message of the novel based on this secret formula is that charity and service are essential in achieving a happy life. Now the novel is called Magnificent Obsession and we usually associate obsession with negative things. You may ask how an obsession could be magnificent. That's a pretty good question and you're about to find out.
The story starts in a hospital in Detroit. Dr. Wayne Hudson is a world-known brain surgeon there. He has a young girl named Joyce and a beautiful young bride named Helen. One day while he is on holiday he goes for swimming and he has a sudden heart attack and needs an inhalator to be saved, which he usually keeps it handy, but at the same time that doctor having a heart attack at the other side of the lake, a drunk and rich young man named Bobby Merrick has gotten himself into an accident and inhalator is in use to save him. So he is saved at the cost of dr Hobson's life.
Next day. Bobby suffering from head damage wakes up at Hudson's hospital and feels irritated by the way staff is treating him. Through Nancy Ashford, the hospital superintendent, he learns that he got his life back in the cost of a famous brain surgeon’s Life. He feels guilty and offers to pay money to Hudson's family. Nancy suggests to Bobby that instead of using his grandfather's money to pay Hudson's family, he should use his wasted potential to become a brain surgeon and take Hudson's place.
Then Bobby finds out that dr Hodson has secretly helped so many people and has kept it a secret and every time that those people wanted to repay him, he has refused it by saying I've used it all up. Bobby considers himself under a moral obligation to dr Hodson and considers becoming a brain surgeon. He becomes friends with Nancy, the hospital's super intendant, and she shares with him all Hudson's papers, including a secret journal, which is written in codes. Meanwhile, Bobby accidentally meets with Helen, Hudson's young widow, who becomes attracted to Bobby without knowing who he is
By decoding Hudson's journal. Bobby learns that a famous surgeon has achieved his success through a series of good works and asking people who he helped to not share it with anyone else while he is still alive. In his journal, Dr. Hudson claims that this simple formula has completely changed his life, and based on the journal the key to success and achieving all you want is to help people in secret and then going to God and requesting what you want. Bobby is at first skeptical about what he has found out from Hudson’s journal but he meets some people mentioned in the journal and they all tell him their success was gained by following this formula.
Bobby decides to put this formula into a test and rescues Hudson's daughter while she was drunk and he declined to accept credit for the rescue. in another trial, Bobby gives a big loan to another needy medical student. After that, he begins to Excel in his studies. Nancy, who is also experimenting with the formula reports that amazing things are also happening in her life.
After finishing medical school with top honors, he becomes a brain surgeon at the hospital. He is secretly helping Helen who is going through financial problems. Through performing these secret good things. Bobby obtains a vision of how to invent the new machine which quickly revolutionalizes brain surgery and becomes famous in his field.
Meanwhile, Helen after finding out that Bobby has been secretly intervened in her financial affairs is humiliated and angry. Despite becoming aware that Bobby is in love with her, she leaves America and goes to Europe. She gets into a train accident and requires brain surgery. Bobby quickly goes there and performs the surgery and saves her life. After she learns about this, She attempts to flee, but Bobby goes to her and after talking to her, she also admits her love for Bobby, and the two get married and live happily ever after.
So to summarize, the book talks about a secret that if you practice it, you can have anything that you want. This is an old secret and it has the power to change your life completely. Now, you may say if you want something, you got to go and get it. But the book says the secret is to go and give to people instead of taking from them and then letting go and have no expectations. According to the secret, what you put out there is exactly what you're going to get back. So this life is not about getting what you can get. It's about giving what you can give. And if you put your focus on what you can give and have no expectation in return, you can virtually have anything you want. This secret is so powerful that this book refers to it as an obsession and unlike other obsessions that are usually negative, this one is magnificent, the one that should be practiced daily.
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