Erewhon Unknown Binding – 4 Dec 1987
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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.
Top Customer Reviews
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.Read more ›
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.Read more ›
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.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
This work has been transcribed and digitized as “The Project Gutenberg eBook, Erewhon, by Samuel Butler” from the 1910 A. C. Read morePublished 5 months ago by Dr Jacques COULARDEAU
Ordered on strength of quality of The Way of all Flesh - unread as yet.Published 6 months ago by Clive Thomas
Disappointed with the story that is well written but after bright start became tedious. The theme being of an adventure into a land unchanged for centuries, run completely... Read morePublished on 19 Jun. 2015 by R J Soar
Lena Zavaroni aside, as much as we all loved her, and ignoring old whatshername's recent appearances on Eastenders, this is probably a smashing book (collection of worms), I don't... Read morePublished on 14 Jun. 2015 by Richard Shillam
Samuel Butler was a 19th century author whose most famous works were the work being reviewed, as well as The Way of All Flesh. Read morePublished on 4 May 2015 by John P. Jones III
Great book - inexpensive and as described 'Used' .. I'd shop with these guys again.Published on 21 July 2014 by Tommy Doyle
It starts well. Mr Butler writes well. I have to be honest though, I only reached halfway before I was skipping dozens of pages of detail that wasn't moving along the plot. Read morePublished on 27 April 2014 by Mr. M. Howe