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Extended Audio Sample The Way of All Flesh, by Samuel Butler Click for printable size audiobook cover
0 out of 50 out of 50 out of 50 out of 50 out of 5 0.00 (0 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Samuel Butler Narrator: Frederick Davidson Publisher: Blackstone Audio Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date:
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This brilliant satirical novel traces the life and loves of Ernest Pontifex, a young man who survives the baleful influence of a hateful, hypocritical father, a doting mother, and a debauched wife to emerge as a decent, happy human being. A fascinating character study, it is also a stinging satire of the Victorian gentry’s pomposity, sentimentality, pseudo-respectability, and refined cruelty—one still capable of delivering deathblows to the same traits in our present world. Since its original publication in 1903, The Way of All Flesh has enjoyed continuous popularity. Every new generation finds in this novel a reaffirmation of youth’s admirable will for freedom of personal expression and its rightful struggle against the tyranny of harsh parents.

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Quotes & Awards

  • “One of the summits of human achievement.”

    George Bernard Shaw

  • “If the house caught on fire, the Victorian novel I would rescue from the flames would be not Vanity Fair or Bleak House but Samuel Butler’s The Way of All Flesh. It is read, I believe, mostly by the young, bent on making out a case against their elders, but Butler was fifty when he stopped working on it, and no reader much under that age is likely to appreciate the full beauty of its horrors, which are not the horrors of the Gothic novel but of family life.” 

    New Yorker

  • “One thinks of it lying in Samuel Butler's desk for thirty years, waiting to blow up the Victorian family and with it the whole great pillared and balustraded edifice of the Victorian novel.”

    V.S. Pritchett 

  • “[Butler] uses ordinary conversational English idiom, managing to seem perfectly at ease in it, and continually showing how rich in expressive turns and formulations and apt and vivid words it really is…This is the perfection of what one loosely thinks of as the ‘plain’ style and which of course is not ‘plain’ at all, but fashioned with hard labor and the most sensitive and resourceful skill. In writing Butler attained that ‘grace after the flesh’ for which Ernest pined in vain.”

    P. N. Furbank 

  • One of Modern Library's 100 Best English-Language Novels of the Twentieth Century

Listener Opinions

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 by Little | 2/10/2014

    " I have a check mark and a frowny face next to the title of this book on my paper reading list, which means I read it and I didn't like it. I'm guessing that I didn't finish it, because I don't remember a single thing about it. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 by Laura | 1/29/2014

    " Quite funny at first. Then it kind of dragged on a little bit. I found the end a little boring, especially when religious theory was discussed. But the author had many witty comments about society and about certain types of people. I think my favorite quote was about the protagonist's sister, Charlotte. That girls had three choices: to be pretty, sweet or clever. And as Charlotte could not be considered either pretty or sweet, she had to choose clever. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 by Anneliese | 1/24/2014

    " tongue-in-cheek, the author has a wonderful way with language - helps to know something about the historical context to fully appreciate his stabs at society. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 by Jay Scully | 1/20/2014

    " Definitely a book to read over and over. Never seen anybody write like this before. "

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