Samuel Butler was among the most wide-ranging of the accomplished crew of late Victorian writers to which be belonged -- a forceful controversialist in the debates that surrounded Darwin's theory of evolution, a painter who sometimes exhibited at the Royal Academy, an idiosyncratic critic and a gifted travel writer, and even, in his early years, a highly successful sheep farmer in New Zealand. He was also, as The Way of All Flesh, his deterministic tale of the havoc wrought by genetic inheritance, suggests, one of the great British masters of the novel of ideas.
The greater part of the book consists of a description of Erewhon. The nature of this nation is intended to be ambiguous. At first glance, Erewhon appears to be a Utopia, yet it soon becomes clear that this is far from the case. Yet for all the failings of Erewhon, it is also clearly not a dystopia, such as that depicted in George Orwell's Nineteen Eighty-Four. As a satirical utopia, Erewhon has sometimes been compared to Gulliver's Travels (1726), a classic novel by Jonathan Swift; the image of Utopia in this latter case also bears strong parallels with the self-view of the British Empire at the time. It can also be compared to William Morris' novel News from Nowhere.
Erewhon satirizes various aspects of Victorian society, including criminal punishment, religion and anthropocentrism. For example, according to Erewhonian law, offenders are treated as if they were ill whilst ill people are looked upon as criminals. Another feature of Erewhon is the absence of machines; this is due to the widely shared perception by the Erewhonians that they are potentially dangerous. This last aspect of Erewhon reveals the influence of Charles Darwin's evolution theory.
EREWHON, by Samuel Butler
MOVING THE MOUNTAIN, by Charlotte Perkins Gilman
HERLAND, by Charlotte Perkins Gilman
EQUALITY, by Edward Bellamy
CAESAR’S COLUMN, by Ignatius Donnelly
THE REPUBLIC OF THE FUTURE, by Anna Bowman Dodd
A CRYSTAL AGE, by W. H. Hudson
A TRAVELER FROM ALTRURIA, by W. D. Howells
FREELAND: A SOCIAL ANTICIPATION, by Dr. Theodor Hertzka
MIZORA: A PROPHECY, by Mary E. Bradley Lane
SOLARIS FARM, by Milan C. Edson
LOOKING BACKWARD, by Edward Bellamy
SOME PICTURES OF A SOCIALIST FUTURE, by Eugene Richter
UTOPIA, by Thomas More
THE COMMONWEALTH OF OCEANA, by James Harrington
THE NEW ATLANTIS, by Sir Francis Bacon
THE BLAZING WORLD, by Margaret Cavendish
CHRISTIANOPOLIS, by Johannes Valentinus Andreae
THE CITY OF THE SUN, by Tommaso Campanella
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Entertaining and provocative, these books are unsparing in their treatment of the hypocrisies of Victorian society, taking aim at the family, church, and mechanical "progress." George Orwell, no stranger to the depiction of futuristic societies, noted that at the time of Erewhon's writing the author needed "imagination of a very high order to see that machinery could be dangerous as well as useful." Today's readers will also find the book remarkably prescient in its anticipation of future sociological trends.
'The greater part of every family is always odious; if there are one or two good ones in a very large family, it is as much as can be expected'
Written with great humour, irony and honesty, The Way of All Flesh exploded perceptions of the Victorian middle-class family in its radical depiction of Ernest Pontifex, a young man who casts off his background and discovers himself.
The awkward but likeable son of a tyrannical clergyman and a priggish mother, and destined to follow his father into the church, Ernest gleefully rejects his parents' respectability, and chooses instead to find his own way in the world.
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The story is narrated by Overton, godfather to the central character. The novel takes its beginnings in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries to trace Ernest's emergence from previous generations of the Pontifex family. John Pontifex was a carpenter; his son George rises in the world to become a publisher; George's son Theobald, pressed by his father to become a minister, is manipulated into marrying Christina, the daughter of a clergyman; the main character Ernest Pontifex is the eldest son of Theobald and Christina.
The author depicts an antagonistic relationship between Ernest and his hypocritical and domineering parents. His aunt Alethea is aware of this relationship, but dies before she can fulfill her aim of counteracting the parents' malign influence on the boy. However, shortly before her death she secretly passes a small fortune into Overton's keeping, with the agreement that once Ernest is twenty-eight, he can receive it.
As Ernest develops into a young man, he travels a bumpy theological road, reflecting the divisions and controversies in the Church of England in the Victorian era. Easily influenced by others at university, he starts out as an Evangelical Christian, and soon becomes a clergyman. He then falls for the lures of the High Church (and is duped out of much of his own money by a fellow clergyman). He decides that the way to regenerate the Church of England is to live among the poor, but the results are, first, that his faith in the integrity of the Bible is severely damaged by a conversation with one of the poor he was hoping to redeem, and, second, that under the pressures of poverty and theological doubt, he attempts a sexual assault on a woman he had incorrectly believed to be of loose morals. This assault leads to a prison term. His parents disown him. His health deteriorates.
As he recovers he learns how to tailor and decides to make this his profession once out of prison. He loses his Christian faith. He marries Ellen, a former housemaid of his parents, and they have two children and set up shop together in the second-hand clothing industry. However, in due course he discovers that Ellen is both a bigamist and an alcoholic. Overton at this point intervenes and pays Ellen a stipend, and she happily leaves with another for America. He gives Ernest a job, and takes him on a trip to Continental Europe. In due course Ernest becomes 28, and receives his aunt Alethea's gift. He returns to the family home until his parents die: his father's influence over him wanes as Theobald's own position as a clergyman is reduced in stature, though to the end Theobald finds small ways purposefully to annoy him. Ernest becomes an author of controversial literature.
Hailed by George Bernard Shaw as "one of the summits of human achievement," this chronicle of the life and loves of Ernest Pontifex spans four generations, focusing chiefly on the relationship between Ernest and his father, Theobald. Written in the wake of Darwin's Origin of Species, it reflects the dawning consciousness of heredity and environment as determinants of character. Along the way, it offers a powerfully satirical indictment of Victorian England's major institutions—the family, the church, and the rigidly hierarchical class structure.
First published in 1872, Erewhon (an anagram for "nowhere") is perhaps the most brilliant example of Utopian novels, taking aim at the humbug, hypocrisy, and absurdities surrounding such hallowed institutions as family, church, mechanical progress, advances in scientific theory, and legal systems.
Intelligent, inventive, and wickedly humorous, the classic novel protests the blind acceptance of ideas and attitudes, an aspect of Samuel Butler's work that made his fiction enduring, entertaining, and thought-provoking. His remarkable prescience in anticipating future sociological trends adds a special relevance for today's readers.
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* Beautifully illustrated with images relating to Butler’s life and works
* Concise introductions to the novels and other texts
* ALL the novels, with individual contents tables
* Images of how the books were first published, giving your eReader a taste of the original texts
* Excellent formatting of the texts
* Rare non-fiction works appearing in digital print for the first time
* Includes Butler’s note-books - spend hours exploring the author’s many works
* The Homeric translations
* Features a bonus biography - discover Butler’s literary life
* Scholarly ordering of texts into chronological order and literary genres
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EREWHON: OR OVER THE RANGE
EREWHON REVISITED TWENTY YEARS LATER
THE WAY OF ALL FLESH
A FIRST YEAR IN CANTERBURY SETTLEMENT
THE EVIDENCE FOR THE RESURRECTION OF JESUS CHRIST, AS GIVEN BY THE FOUR EVANGELISTS, CRITICALLY EXAMINED
THE FAIR HAVEN
LIFE AND HABIT
EVOLUTION, OLD AND NEW
ALPS AND SANCTUARIES OF PIEDMONT AND THE CANTON TICINO
SELECTIONS FROM PREVIOUS WORKS
LUCK OR CUNNING AS THE MAIN MEANS OF ORGANIC MODIFICATION?
A LECTURE ON THE HUMOUR OF HOMER AND OTHER ESSAYS
THE LIFE AND LETTERS OF DR. SAMUEL BUTLER
SHAKESPEARE’S SONNETS RECONSIDERED
THE AUTHORESS OF THE ODYSSEY
ESSAYS ON LIFE, ART AND SCIENCE
GOD THE KNOWN AND GOD THE UNKNOWN
The Epic Poem Translations
THE ILIAD OF HOMER, RENDERED INTO ENGLISH PROSE
THE ODYSSEY, RENDERED INTO ENGLISH PROSE
THE NOTE-BOOKS OF SAMUEL BUTLER
SKETCH OF THE LIFE OF SAMUEL BUTLER, AUTHOR OF EREWHON by Henry Festing Jones
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