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Download The Way of All Flesh Audiobook

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: January 2006 ISBN: 9781455177424
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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 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 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 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 Jay Scully | 1/20/2014

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

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Sarah | 1/19/2014

    " Although this was an entertaining book, I really don't understand how it's on the list of the Top 100. It's a rather prosaic tale about a young man deciding what to do with his life. Nothing really happens. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Julie Mackin | 1/16/2014

    " ahh, fathers and sons. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Kristyn | 1/14/2014

    " I got this book at a library sale. I read it a long time ago, so the most I remember about it is that it was funny. It is only funny though if you find old, dry, English humor, funny. I should read this one again. I just need to make sure I have plenty of benadryl handy, for it is a musty book. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Tiffany | 1/11/2014

    " This novel was well-written. There was various different views concerning family matters. It opens up people's mind about life in general. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Ivan | 8/25/2013

    " Dalem.Smart. Seperti Wilkie Collins. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Spectator4 | 8/11/2013

    " Really ahead of its time in many ways...some excellent quotes to take away "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Bonnie | 5/3/2013

    " probably my favorite from the list so far. i love the narrator. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Miik | 9/25/2012

    " Took awhile to get into it, but once I did, it really spoke to me. Just call me Ernest Pontifex. :) "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Yvonne | 8/31/2012

    " Although at times it dragged brutally there were some moments that made the rest worth it. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Angspendlove | 7/31/2012

    " I didn't finish it and I doubt I'll ever come back to it. It didn't draw me in. It's just a lot of (valid) criticisms of Victorian-age parenting, Christians, social propriety and hypocrisy framed in a not-too-interesting story featuring not-too-interesting characters. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Laura Harmon | 2/2/2012

    " There were so many points when I was reading this book that I had to remind myself of how long ago it was written. Definitely ahead of it's time, and a great story. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 John Rickard | 8/16/2011

    " It took me a while to get into this novel, but after I did I really appreciated Butler's sensibility and his comments on parenting and religion in particular. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Gena | 6/2/2011

    " I wanted to like this book more--and couldn't. Ok, it was a commentary on victorian social mores and particularly hypocrisy... but it was also not that far from boring. I will reiterate another veiwers comment--not a book that stands the test of time. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Cindy | 4/1/2011

    " Mostly meh but has its moments. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Mike | 6/6/2009

    " A story of mid 19th century aristocracy. A man born to wealth manages to squander a fortune before inheriting another. The story of his ups and downs and the values he discovers in himself because of them. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Robin | 3/2/2009

    " Ummm it only got interesting in the last quarter of the book. Maybe one third of the way through but that's probably pushing it. No plot. A story about a man's mostly unhappy life and it just remained blah throughout. Sad, no real growth no real progress just kind of eh so so at best! "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Anna | 3/23/2007

    " This book takes quite a while to get into but it's a marvellous period piece which I enjoyed by the end. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Ian Bond | 7/31/2006

    " Lovely. A bit slow at times, but atill a very enjoyable view of a man's learning process through various circumstances. "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 Letterswitch | 12/19/2005

    " boring, oh god it was boring... "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Jennifer | 5/8/2004

    " Fantastic book until the end. It just kind of loses momentum. Many times I found it hard to remember this book was written in the 1860s; some thoughts were progressive enough to be from the 1960s. And the wry humor was very enjoyable. "

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