"I am the enfant terrible of literature and science. If I cannot, and I know I cannot, get the literary and scientific big-wigs to give me a shilling, I can, and I know I can, heave bricks into the middle of them."
With The Way of All Flesh, Samuel Butler threw a subversive brick at the smug face of Victorian domesticity. Published in 1903, a year after Butler's death, the novel is a thinly disguised account of his own childhood and youth "in the bosom of a Christian family". With irony, wit, and sometimes rancor, he savaged contemporary values and beliefs, turning inside-out the conventional novel of a family's life through several generations. The Way of All Flesh tells the story of Ernest Pontifex and his struggles with Victorian mores, his restrictive, highly religious family, and Victorian society itself. Butler is remembered as one of the greatest of the anti-Victorians, whose ideas reflected accurately the new, more liberal society that was to come following the death of England's great queen, and the beginning of a new era.
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Shockingly good, but...