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Comment: 1ST CLASS POST 1954 penguin as pictured. book has some age related marks and tanning and shelf wear. no inscriptions.
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Erewhon Unknown Binding – 4 Dec 1987

3.4 out of 5 stars 20 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Unknown Binding
  • Publisher: Penguin Books (NZ) (4 Dec. 1987)
  • ISBN-10: 0670820008
  • ISBN-13: 978-0670820009
  • Average Customer Review: 3.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (20 customer reviews)
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Product description

About the Author

Samuel Butler (1835-1902), a British writer strongly influenced by his New Zealand experiences, is best known for his utopian satire Erewhon and his posthumous novel The Way of All Flesh. Butler was born in Langar Rectory, near Bingham, Nottinghamshire, England, into a long line of clerics. Butler, who was a detractor from widely-accepted religious, social, and scientific ideas, achieved fame posthumously in 1902 and has ever since been recognized as a momentous Victorian writer.

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Rather laborious story which could have been condensed. Some interesting comment on culture he lived in.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Had to refer back to reviews as I read it a while ago. I can remember it was a great start that tailed off. It was written a long time ago and the author describes a new society that I'm not sure is relevant anymore. Some of the ideas are interesting and it's good in parts.
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Format: Paperback
This is an odd, engaging book, which uses its hero's travels through the land of Erewhon as the launching-place for a series of satirical volleys against the mid-to-late Victorian society in which the author dwelt.

The story's narrator, Higgs, is an adventurer with an entrepreneurial bent, seeking - just as the author himself had sought - to better his fortunes in a far-flung part of the British Empire. His quest leads him to seek to penetrate the high mountain range that looms over the sheepfold where he works, in search of land to farm or gold to mine. So it is that he sets off one day, accompanied by his untrustworthy `native guide'.

So far, so conventional, but this is merely the preface to the meat of Butler's book, Higgs's discovery of the land of Erewhon and the extraordinary people that inhabit it, people whose ideas, on closer examination turn out to be satirical reflections of the ideas Butler could see about him in Britain. Thus for Erewhonians, to be ill is a sin deserving of the severest punishment, while criminal and similar wrongs are seen as we see medical matters, ailments that can be ameliorated with the application of the appropriate treatment ... the treatment for Erewhonians being visits to the local `straightener'. In condemning the Erewhonian's unthinking and unreasonable attitude to physical infirmity, Butler equally condemns Victorian attitudes to moral weakness

An equally neat inversion is to be found in Erewhon's `musical banks', beautiful buildings where Erewhonians pick up a few pieces of the, ostensibly revered, musical currency in order to be able to show them off, paying the institution of the banks lip-service (or, rather, wallet-service) much as some Victorians paid lip-service to the institution of the Church.
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Format: Paperback
I have to disagree with Tony, I'm afraid. I thought Erewhon was very interesting and very amusing at times too. This was my first brush with Samuel Butler, so I did not really know what to expect, but despite the somewhat slow beginning (going into quite a bit of detail about how he reaches Erewhon), when he finally reached the lost civilisation, things really began to pick up.
The situation in which the narrator finds himself is at first curious, but quickly becomes outright bizarre. The values of the Erewhonians seem alien to us (sickness is punished by imprisonment, crime is merely frowned upon, beauty and manners are equated with morality) so that we are presented with a people who are both detestable and fascinating. At the same time, however, the Victorians who first read Butler's book would have come to realise the parallels between Erewhonian culture that of Victorian Britain, and it is the satire of the novel that is really interesting. The absurd institutions mentioned - the Musical Banks, the Colleges of Unreason, the Museum of the Machines - and the hypocritical nature of the Erewhonian religion, all would have reminded readers of their own world. For instance, at the Colleges of Unreason, the hypothetical language is taught, and the reader wonders why people would learn a language that has no use outside of the colleges. Then they realise that the same could be said for languages like Latin and ancient Greek. These are languages that are irrelevant to today, but are still studied in higher seats of learning.
In Erewhon, Butler created a satire of his own society that is both enlightening and entertaining. The characters are hardly very rounded and the story is not particularly filled out, but that hardly seems to matter.
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Format: Paperback
I agree with others here that this book is still around because it's seen as a prototype for other works in the same vein rather than any intrinsic merit, literary or otherwise, it possesses. Erewhon is certainly not a novel - there is no story and no dialogue - rather a satirical treatise on the iniquities of Victorian society, but with its potentially cutting edge blunted by the tedium of the medium Butler has selected. The description of the tyranny family doctors exercise over their subjects is amusing, for example, but this would have been better illustrated with some live-action examples rather than yet another arch observation inserted into the lecture. Think how much superior the treatment of the material would have been in the hands of Charles Dickens, who died two years before this was published. There was a writer, here we have a polemicist, and that makes all the difference in the world. Disappointing.
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Format: Kindle Edition
Samuel Butler’s Erewhon, first published in 1872, is a natural descendant of Sir Thomas More’s Utopia [even down to the title making clear that the land in question doesn’t exist (‘Erewhon’ being an anagram of ‘nowhere’)] and Jonathan Swift’s Gulliver’s Travels.

Related in the first person, Butler’s protagonist Higgs seeks his fortune in one of Britain’s then numerous far flung dependencies, where after a few years learning his trade as a shepherd he decides to strike out on his own, venturing into the previously unexplored hinterland. Butler himself lived and worked for several years in New Zealand, and the narrative gives many hints that this was the model for the unspecified territory of the book. After some hair raising adventures he manages to penetrate into previously unknown lands, though he is initially dismayed to find them populated by a foreign race of inordinately beautiful people.

The alien race is as amazed at the prospect of this bold stranger suddenly appearing among them as he is to find the land inhabited. Over the next few months he came to know the people and was introduced to the higher echelons of its society. He learns that the land is called Erewhon. Initially engaged by the society that the Erewhonians have developed, he gradually becomes disillusioned at what he sees as a moral inversion within their prevailing social mores.

Butler handles the opening chapters of the book, from Higgs’s decision to find his fortune overseas to his discovery of the Erewhonians, very capably. The novel seems to be an engaging adventure story, and the struggles that the hero faces as he strives to make his way further inland are genuinely exciting.
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