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The Way of All Flesh

The Way of All Flesh by Samuel Butler

The Way of All Flesh (1903) is a semi-autobiographical novel by Samuel Butler which attacks Victorian-era hypocrisy. Written between 1873 and 1884, it traces four generations of the Pontifex family. It represents the diminishment of religious outlook from a Calvinistic approach, which is presented as harsh. Butler dared not publish it during his lifetime, but when it was published it was accepted as part of the general revulsion against Victorianism.

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"We know that all things work together for good to them that love God." ROM. viii. 28


Samuel Butleter began to write "The Way of All Flesh" about the year 1872, and was engaged upon it intermittently until 1884. It is therefore, to a great extent, contemporaneous with "Life and Habit," and may be taken as a practical illustration of the theory of heredity embodied in that book. He did not work at it after 1884, but for various reasons he postponed its publication. He was occupied in other ways, and he professed himself dissatisfied with it as a whole, and always intended to rewrite or at any rate to revise it. His death in 1902 prevented him from doing this, and on his death bed he gave me clearly to understand that he wished it to be published in its present form. I found that the MS. of the fourth and fifth chapters had disappeared, but by consulting and comparing various notes and sketches, which remained among his papers, I have been able to supply the missing chapters in a form which I believe does not differ materially from that which he finally adopted... Continue reading book >>

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