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Publisher's Summary

This brilliant satirical novel, tracing the life and loves of Ernest Pontifex, has continued in popularity since its original publication in 1903. Every generation finds in The Way of All Flesh a reaffirmation of youth's rightful struggle against the tyranny of harsh parents and its admirable will for freedom of personal expression. This is one of the most fascinating character studies you will ever read, the story of a young man who survives the baleful influence of a hateful, hypocritical father, a doting mother, and a debauched wife, to emerge as a decent, happy human being. It is also a stinging satire of Victorian gentry, their pomposity, sentimentality, pseudo-respectability, and refined cruelty, a satire still capable of delivering death-blows to the same traits that exist in our present world.
(P)2000 Blackstone Audiobooks
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful
4 out of 5 stars
By Jake on 01-19-06

Really spectacular

This book is really quite amazing. I constantly found my own assumptions about modern society turned on their head. I was amazed at how readily issues like coporal punishment by parents, or atheism were discussed. I've always taken for granted that liberal views on issues like these were recent developments but I'm obviously mistaken.

Aside from all its social commentary, though, this book is fabulously entertaining from beginning to end. It doesn't feel the least bit dated at any time.

The one thing that holds this back from a 5-star rating is the narrator. This is a love-or-hate guy. He is unquestionably talented -- able to maintain a seeming endless array of character voices in his head, which he switches between effortlessly, even in conversations involving four or five people. The problem is, his voices, including his normal one which he uses for the non-conversational narration is foppish, pretentious and obnoxious. He also has a tendancy to make his protagonists sound like wimpy little pansies.

The book is so good, though, that you will find yourself not even noticing the narrator (or maybe you'll love him -- lots of people do). I take some comfort in the fact that I listened to his reading of David Copperfield and by comparison this narration is spectacular. I nearly gave up on David Copperfield halfway through deciding that I'd better just read the book myself rather than having a classic ruined for me by this guy.

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8 of 8 people found this review helpful

5 out of 5 stars
By Eric on 08-15-05

A masterpiece&the narrator isn't so bad after all

When I originally attempted to listen to this book, I was completely offended by the narrator. After bearing through it for some time (and adjusting the equalizer to drown out his slurping and breathing) I was treated to a wonderful story about morals, morality, and moralism. The difference is subtle, but striking, and Butler conveys it masterfully with fine character development, plot, and not too little psychological and philosophical anlysis. It is even better than I expected too because the narrator turns out to be an amazing actor and he is really able to draw the audience in with his diverse voice. The book is truly a masterpiece and it is a wonder how it was written before the 20th century (so many of its themes became mainstays in the literature of the last century). Listen and enjoy.

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7 of 7 people found this review helpful

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful
5 out of 5 stars
By Edmund on 03-08-10

undiscovered masterpiece

I can see why this was such an influential book on Huxley, Graves Waugh etc. It even anticipates Larkin's 'they f**k you up your mum and dad.' Hugely satisfying

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2 of 2 people found this review helpful

5 out of 5 stars
By Elizabeth on 03-19-16

Read very well and the book itself is fantastic

I have already read this book a lot so I knew the story and the writing would entertain me. Butler writes about the behaviours of difficult parents and takes the reader through an entire generation of a family, and life of Earnest, very stylishly. The reader does justice to butler and makes the overall experience of this audio book a great pleasure. If you haven't yet read or heard this book please do. it's one of the greats.

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