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The Way of All Flesh Paperback – January 1, 2011
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Top Customer Reviews
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 ›
Even today, 100 years after the book's publication, a reader finds many things to identify with. Anyone who felt unjustly treated by his or her parents or teachers will find much to sympathize with here. Anyone who has wrestled with the conflict between Reason and Faith will find much to think about here. Given how much change the last century has seen, it's surprising how many of the issues still seem fresh and relevant, and the book definitely makes you think about them. It is easy to see how many people have described reading The Way of All Flesh as a turning point in their lives.
A point worth keeping in mind: the characters are all described from Ernest's point of view. Several clues tell us that Ernest exaggerates the cruelty of various characters - some of whom seem evil beyond belief, and I think it's quite clear that, at these points, we're supposed to smile at Ernest - not shake our heads at the author. This is most obvious with Ernest's schoolmaster, Dr.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I looked at some other books by Samuel Butler before I started to read The Way of All Flesh. On MySpace I joined groups for photobloggers and lit crit, but my interest in rock and... Read morePublished 1 month ago by Bruce P. Barten
It has been about 75 years since I last read "The Way of All Flesh." Now that I am 90 years old the book takes on a whole new meaning, The satire and humor is... Read morePublished 7 months ago by Sonia Sheridan
With insights and revelations appropriate still in the 21st century.
A pleasure to have it revealed to me at this time.
So wise and engaging. A must read for fans of Tolstoy and Austen.Published 8 months ago by Mortymom
There is nothing I can write that can add an iota of praise to the greatness of this masterpiece.Published 9 months ago by Dr.G.
I thought that the book presented a fairly good description of selected situations one might have to endure when raised by selfish and abusive parents. Read morePublished 13 months ago by itmustbefrank
The style is out of fashion, but it fits the story. The writing is excellent and the vocabulary used it very extensive and completely accurate. Read morePublished 15 months ago by Brian McLoughlin
This book is both brilliant and boring at the same time. Butler does a great job of defining characters, their motives and philosophies, yet the tale winds its way over the... Read morePublished 15 months ago by Gerry