The Penguin English Library Edition of The Way of All Flesh by Samuel Butler
'The greater part of every family is always odious; if there are one or two good ones in a very large family, it is as much as can be expected'
Written with great humour, irony and honesty, The Way of All Flesh exploded perceptions of the Victorian middle-class family in its radical depiction of Ernest Pontifex, a young man who casts off his background and discovers himself. The awkward but likeable son of a tyrannical clergyman and a priggish mother, and destined to follow his father into the church, Ernest gleefully rejects his parents' respectability, and chooses instead to find his own way in the world.
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Samuel Butler (1835-1902) was an author, literary critic, philosopher, painter and translator of Homer. After a disagreement about his career with his father, a clergyman who had been pressured into joining the Church by his own father, Butler left England to become a sheep farmer in New Zealand. The letters he wrote to his father from here formed the basis of his utopian satire Erewhon. The Way of All Flesh, a semi-autobiographical exploration of Victorian family life and indictment of Victorian hypocrisy, was published posthumously in 1903.