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The Way of All Flesh Paperback – Sep 14 1998
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From the Publisher
Founded in 1906 by J.M. Dent, the Everyman Library has always tried to make the best books ever written available to the greatest number of people at the lowest possible price. Unique editorial features that help Everyman Paperback Classics stand out from the crowd include: a leading scholar or literary critic's introduction to the text, a biography of the author, a chronology of her or his life and times, a historical selection of criticism, and a concise plot summary. All books published since 1993 have also been completely restyled: all type has been reset, to offer a clarity and ease of reading unique among editions of the classics; a vibrant, full-color cover design now complements these great texts with beautiful contemporary works of art. But the best feature must be Everyman's uniquely low price. Each Everyman title offers these extensive materials at a price that competes with the most inexpensive editions on the market-but Everyman Paperbacks have durable binding, quality paper, and the highest editorial and scholarly standards. --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.
From the Back Cover
Reared on piety, repression and emotional blackmail, Ernest Pontifex follows the course prescribed for him towards Holy Orders. Yet rebellion at Cambridge, unwise theology, unwiser financial dealings, and finally prison free him from his parents' tyranny. Left with his health and career ruined, Ernest faces still more trials before fortune and his godfather rescue him from the brink. This savagely funny, iconoclastic odyssey from joyless duty to unbridled liberalism exposes the hypocrisy of nineteenth century family life. --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.See all Product Description
Inside This Book(Learn More)
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WHEN I was small boy at the beginning of the century I remember an old man who wore knee-breeches and worsted stockings, and who used to hobble about the street of our village with help of a stick. Read the first page
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Top Customer Reviews
There is a specific edition of this book which I love, and which can be found easily among used-book dealers. This edition was issued by The Heritage Press, and contains a remarkable introduction by Theodore Dreiser. The introduction is something which I have re-read many times. As a beginning, Dreiser recounts his interaction with an intelligent American engineer, aged about 40, who was looking for a book "with some meat to it." After long hesitation, and after compiling a list of some dozen books, Dreiser finally decided to recommend "The Way of All Flesh."
Six months later, he met the engineer by chance while strolling along a street in San Francisco, and the engineer immediately started praising the novel. "Now there is a book which is honest! I can't think of another book from its time which contains more honesty, and more direct dealing!"
And indeed, this may be the main thing working in favor of "The Way of All Flesh." Samuel Butler read Darwin, and became a believer in the theory of evolution. He was a penetrating observer of the cruelties of Victorian society, and of its hypocrisies. Few people will read this book without being able to remember this startlingly honest portrayal of a man who has just lost his wife, whom he did not love in the slightest:
"Theobald buried his face in his hands to conceal his want of emotion."
Oh, touche!Read more ›
I tried to read this novel once and only got through the first 100 pages or so. I found it remarkably dull and dry, and the tone of the first-person narrator (Mr. Overton), who stops the action every 10 pages or so to offer personal asides that reveal more about him than about the characters he's writing about, I thought to be snide and irritating.
But I hate not finishing a book, so I picked it up again, this time understanding that it would be a dry read and prepared to appreciate it for its historical context. To my surprise, I found myself caught up in the story and thought the whole thing very funny. I can't believe I missed all the humour the first time through.
I hesitate to give this novel too much credit for deflating the pompous bubble of Victorian morality, because other authors writing at the same time as Butler were doing the same thing (Dickens for one can be incredibly caustic). But there is a maturity to Butler's writing that is not present in other Victorian writers. This novel feels much more modern than anything else written pre-1900, and even feels more modern than some books written after.Read more ›
Most recent customer reviews
Self-deception is falsity in thinking and feeling, in ignoring common sense. It goes beyond mere falsehood in that the deceiver succeeds in convincing himself, not others, of a... Read morePublished on Feb. 22 2007 by Shane C. Walters
A very important novel of the 19th Century. How it is included in the best novels of the 20th Century by the New York Times is beyond me. Read morePublished on July 23 2002
It's a hoot to read the clipped, sullen dismissals of this book by readers from Topeka to Boston. They obviously hate Butler's novel, and for good reason: the mealymouthed,... Read morePublished on Dec 20 2001 by John Dolan
The last page of this book was as tediously painful to read as the first. Butler's pompous writing is by far a worse sin than any committed by his vapid characters.Published on Nov. 13 2001 by Chris Murphy
Butler finished this book in 1884, but then like Isaac Newton, left it in a drawer for twenty years and it was only published posthumously. Read morePublished on Nov. 4 2001 by Orrin C. Judd
Written in the 1870's and 1880's, "The Way of All Flesh" is a semi-autobiographical account of Samuel Butler's life as the son of a clergyman and his attempts to abandon... Read morePublished on June 4 2001 by A.J.
This book just didn't stand up for me. The problem with social satires is that once the culture changes its hooks and barbs lose much of their rhetorical force. Read morePublished on Jan. 27 2001 by Bline
The Way of All Flesh covers six generations of strife in the Pontifex family, and spans a period from 1750 to 1880. Read morePublished on Oct. 29 2000 by Gregory N. Hullender
Recommended as a classic, I found this book to be dry and uneventful as a book could be. I was only mildly captivated by the character of Ernest and the rest of his... Read morePublished on Aug. 22 2000