The Way of All Flesh

  • by Samuel Butler
  • Narrated by Frederick Davidson
  • 15 hrs and 18 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

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.


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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

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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- Jake

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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- Eric

Book Details

  • Release Date: 04-22-2004
  • Publisher: Blackstone Audio, Inc.