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Way of All Flesh, The

Butler, Samuel

Published by Hartsdale House, New York, 1935
Condition: Very Good Hardcover
From Books First (Washington, DC, U.S.A.)

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An attractive copy of one of the most important and influential novels of the Victorian era, now all but forgotten even though its influence continues to reverberate and its importance is still relevant. From a review article in the New York Review of Books, AUGUST 24, 1967, by F. W. Dupee: "The Way of All Flesh was written in spurts during the years 1873-84. It was not published until 1903, the year following its author¿s death at the age of sixty-seven. Once in print The Way of All Flesh was pronounced by Bernard Shaw ¿a great book.¿ Alive, Samuel Butler had been known, insofar as he was known at all, as a sort of curiosity-about-town (London). The deceased now became abruptly famous. In all the English-speaking countries (the book has had no great reputation elsewhere), advanced young men and women devoured The Way of All Flesh. Certain of them went on to write their own novels of adolescence. These novels were mostly inferior imitations of Butler. Only in Sons and Lovers and more directly in The Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man were Butler¿s materials¿religion and family, repression and freedom¿made into finer stuff.After World War I, The Way of All Flesh.was retired to the sanctuary reserved for minor classics. More complex novels, such as those by Joyce and Lawrence.captured the estimation of advanced people. Butler himself, formerly admired for his cranky independence of mind, fell victim to the new tyranny of ¿tradition,¿ Marxist or Eliotist. By the mid-1930s Butler and his works were carrion for the debunker, who appeared in the person of the English writer, Malcolm Muggeridge. Mr. Muggeridge¿s biography of Butler, The Earnest Atheist, made of its subject a dreary fool. Butler¿s sufferings, which had been extreme, were made to look painfully absurd, like those of some clown, Malvolio or Caliban, whose sensibility exceeds the requirements of his station; while the scandal, as it then was, of Butler¿s probable homosexuality was summed up in the image of two gray beards wagging under a single sheet.Later, George Orwell wrote, The Way of All Flesh "gives an honest picture of the relationship between father and son, and it could do that because Butler was a truly independent observer, and above all because he was courageous. He would say things that other people knew but didn't dare to say. And finally there was his clear, simple, straightforward way of writing, never using a long word where a short one will do." This copy is VG/VG, sturdy and tight, and both would grade higher if not for a dampstain on the bottom of the binding and inside of the DJ, which has not affected the pages. DJ is whole and unchipped, but a bit worn around the edges. Woodblock illustrations by Howard Simon. This Victorian novel is not dreary in the slightest, but rather absorbing and insightful about our own times as well as those Victorians. Bookseller Inventory # 140349

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Bibliographic Details

Title: Way of All Flesh, The

Publisher: Hartsdale House, New York

Publication Date: 1935

Binding: Hardcover

Illustrator: Woodblock illustrations by Howard Simon

Book Condition:Very Good

Dust Jacket Condition: Very Good

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