Way of All Flesh

Way of All Flesh
Catalog # SKU0947
Publisher TGS Publishing
Weight 1.00 lbs
Author Name Samuel Butler
 
$22.95
Quantity

Description

Way of All Flesh

by Samuel Butler


Samuel Butler

Variously a parish helper to the London poor and a successful New Zealand sheep farmer, Samuel Butler did not treasure the attitudes of his time (the second half of the 19th century). His books were iconoclastic in their attitudes towards Victorian ideals and The Way of All Flesh is foremost among them. It is appropriate, then, that it was published after his death and Queen Victoria's, in 1903.

It was completed in its original version in 1885 though the second half was never revised. It depicts the lives of four generations and is narrated by family friend Overton although it focuses on Ernest Pontifex and his respect for his great-grandfather John.

His father Theo is the books initial concern, though,and he grows after ordination into cruel and disciplinarian attitudes to parenthood which affect young Ernest. As the story progresses we see the latter give his money to a pregnant maid, become a priest and imprisoned for mistaking a respectable lady for a whore. Ernest is released only to begin an unwise relationship with the maid, Ellen. The tale and its conclusion question the values of Victorian society and offer the solace of the individual mind

Excerpt

WHEN I was a small boy at the beginning of the century I remember an old man who wore knee-breeches and worsted stockings, and who used to hobble about the street of our village with the help of a stick. He must have been getting on for eighty in the year 1807, earlier than which date I suppose I can hardly remember him, for I was born in 1802. A few white locks hung about his ears, his shoulders were bent and his knees feeble, but he was still hale, and was much respected in our little world of Paleham. His name was Pontifex.

His wife was said to be his master; I have been told she brought him a little money, but it cannot have been much. She was a tall, square-shouldered person (I have heard my father call her a Gothic woman) who had insisted on being married to Mr. Pontifex when he was young and too good-natured to say nay to any woman who wooed him. The pair had lived not unhappily together, for Mr. Pontifex's temper was easy and he soon learned to bow before his wife's more stormy moods.

Mr. Pontifex was a carpenter by trade; he was also at one time parish clerk; when I remember him, however, he had so far risen in life as to be no longer compelled to work with his own hands. In his earlier days he had taught himself to draw. I do not say he drew well, but it was surprising he should draw as well as he did. My father, who took the living of Paleham about the year 1797, became possessed of a good many of old Mr. Pontifex's drawings, which were always of local subjects, and so unaffectedly painstaking that they might have passed for the work of some good early master. I remember them as hanging up framed and glazed in the study at the Rectory, and tinted, as all else in the room was tinted, with the green reflected from the fringe of ivy leaves that grew around the windows. I wonder how they will actually cease and come to an end as drawings, and into what new phases of being they will then enter.

Excerpt

For a long time I was disappointed. He was kept back by the nature of the subjects he chose- which were generally metaphysical. In vain I tried to get him away from these to matters which had a greater interest for the general public. When I begged him to try his hand at some pretty, graceful little story which should be full of whatever people knew and liked best, he would immediately set to work upon a treatise to show the grounds on which all belief rested.

"You are stirring mud," said I, "or poking at a sleeping dog. You are trying to make people resume consciousness about things, which, with sensible men, have already passed into the unconscious stage. The men whom you would disturb are in front of you, and not, as you fancy, behind you; it is you who are the lagger, not they."

He could not see it. He said he was engaged on an essay upon the famous quod semper, quod ubique, quod ab omnibus of St. Vincent de Lerins. This was the more provoking because he showed himself able to do better things if he had liked.

I was then at work upon my burlesque, "The Impatient Griselda," and was sometimes at my wits' end for a piece of business or a situation; he gave me many suggestions, all of which were marked by excellent good sense. Nevertheless I could not prevail with him to put philosophy on one side, and was obliged to leave him to himself.


Paperback, 5 x 8, 460+ pages

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