|Print List Price:||$6.00|
Save $3.01 (50%)
Random House LLC
Price set by seller.
The Way of All Flesh: (A Modern Library E-Book) (Modern Library 100 Best Novels) Kindle Edition
|New from||Used from|
|eBook, November 1, 2000||
|Length: 448 pages||Word Wise: Enabled||Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled|
|Page Flip: Enabled||
Switch back and forth between reading the Kindle book and listening to the Audible narration with Whispersync for Voice. Add narration for a reduced price of $7.49 when you buy the Kindle book.
Matchbook Price: $1.99
For thousands of qualifying books, your past, present, and future print-edition purchases now lets you buy the Kindle edition for $2.99 or less. (Textbooks available for $9.99 or less.)
Enter your mobile number or email address below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.
To get the free app, enter your mobile phone number.
Customers who bought this item also bought
Would you like to tell us about a lower price?
Top Customer Reviews
If you love big sprawling novels you can get lost in, you will enjoy this book. Spanning multiple generations, it is the tale of the Pontifex family, but focused mostly on the unlucky Ernest Pontifex. Hampered by a set of hypocritical and nasty parents, Ernest spends the first part of his life stumbling from mistake to mistake. It's handled in a witty way that makes it a comical tragedy. Butler was a very talented writer -- not only does he create wonderful characters, he brings their world to life and make you care about things like "high" versus "low" church debates. The narrator's voice is dry and enjoyable -- the book is packed with magnificent one-liners and well-phrased observations. Butler has a point to make about how parents treat children and the best way to grow to full maturity, but he doesn't neglect his story to make it.
As far as formatting, the Kindle version has pretty standard formatting. You don't have lots of white space between chapters (do you really need this to enjoy a book?) and you don't have a active table of contents -- but these aren't standard for free classics anyway. What you get is a free classic in a format that is perfectly readable with virtually no errors.
Over the course of a century three generations of the Pontifex men transpired from solid and esteemed, to religiously fanatical and noxious, to naïve and repressed. Their respective spouses pretty much mirrored the husbands in both their outlook and their temperament.
The ultimate protagonist, (it takes a few chapters for him to clearly emerge as the human object of this compelling yarn), Ernest Pontifex, was the eldest son of an odious Church of England clergyman, Theobald Pontifex. Whatever amount of respect Ernest had fostered for his grandfather was notably exceeded in dimension by his contempt for his own sire. Theobald constrained even Ernest's most insignificant activities throughout the lad's youth and during his subsequent college years where this young unfortunate was compelled to study, (of course), theological subjects. Ernest's self-indulgent father also derived a perverse brand of joy from the Draconian disciplinarian acts that he perpetrated without cessation against his wretched son, ergo: "...spare the rod, spoil the child."
[But I must insert here that this is definitely not a gloomy Dickensian-type novel so don't quit reading quite yet!]
Ernest's most remarkable teen experience occurred on the day when an attractive, young household domestic was hastily driven from the home when it was revealed that she was soon to become a mother and the father was yet unknown to any but herself and her paramour. Ernest felt so bad for the girl that he chased after her carriage and gave the poor lass his watch and what little money that he possessed. This altruistic act, perceived as outright rebelliousness by Theobald and his nasty shrew of a wife, was rewarded with even further tyranny and psychological domination.
During his years away at a small but prestigious private school under the tutelage of one Dr. Skinner, an old profligate who ranked on a scale of malevolence only slightly less prominently than Theobald himself, Ernest's blameless nose was kept firmly applied to the collegiate grindstone although his marginal grades never reflected any marked fruits of such devoted toil. Only a singular figure within Ernest's extended family gave rise to hope towards any promise of future happiness: he had an aunt, (Theobald's sister), who in addition to being kind and motherly, was wealthy as well. She was also quite close to our narrator, Mr. Overton, a man of equal understanding and tolerance, tenoned with the highest of ethical standards.
And so it goes... Ernest works his way through college, into the clergy, (where he was as inept as he was miserable), and thence down numerous of life's pathways, chiefly as a consequence of events. Think of Ernest Pontifex as a Victorian version of Holden Caulfield, (the youthful and puerile protagonist of J.D. Salinger's The Catcher in the Rye.)
My copy of this remarkable novel is the Classics Club (Walter J. Black, New York) deep red hardcover edition (no copyright date but pretty old), with a helpful Note by R.A. Streatfeild prefacing the work, the man who saw Samuel Butler's manuscript through to its initial publication (all with Butler's deathbed permission) in 1902. Butler actually completed the book in 1884 but Streatfeild had to re-write the fourth and fifth chapters following Butler's death from the original working notes as that small segment of manuscript had been lost. Streatfeild did a fine job with this brief but enigmatic task and I could detect no inconsistency whatever in this transitory text. There are eighty-six chapters in all, spread out over 389 pages.
This fictional account is conveyed in First Person, (all from Overton's perspective), and the prose and dialogues flow as does warm honey. The story is bulging with a subtle brand of typically British wit, all nicely mingled with a notably robust account of period English culture, with a marked emphasis on (fictional) prominent figures associated with the Church of England. One unique caveat of Butler's writing style was his clever literary handling of the principals: the protagonist is not the narrator as we traditionally encounter in First Person novels.
I'm pretty well read in this particular era of European fiction and Butler's work much parallel's many of the positive features which we encounter in Thomas Hardy's The Return of the Native (Modern Library Classics); Anatole France's Penguin Island, and; Ivan Turgenev's Fathers and Sons (Penguin Classics). This is first-rate literature -- during his lifetime Samuel Butler (born, 1835) also penned the well-known Utopian satire Erewhon.
In summary, this book is one of those little treasures which devotees of classic literature have to occasionally pry out of historical obscurity. It's nice that this superlative work has now seen various reprintings. I cannot recommend it highly enough for those who, like me, foster an unbridled appreciation for outstanding literature of this compelling era.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Set up an Amazon Giveaway
What other items do customers buy after viewing this item?
Look for similar items by category
- Books > Literature & Fiction > Classics
- Books > Literature & Fiction > Genre Fiction > Family Saga
- Books > Literature & Fiction > History & Criticism > Criticism & Theory
- Books > Literature & Fiction > History & Criticism > Movements & Periods
- Books > Literature & Fiction > Literary
- Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Literature & Fiction > Classics > British & Irish
- Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Literature & Fiction > Classics > Coming of Age
- Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Literature & Fiction > Genre Fiction > Sagas
- Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Literature & Fiction > History & Criticism > Movements & Periods > Victorian
- Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Literature & Fiction > Literary Fiction > British & Irish
- Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Literature & Fiction > Literary Fiction > Classics
- Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Literature & Fiction > Literary Fiction > Sagas
- Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Literature & Fiction > Literary Fiction > Satire