Wednesday, November 4, 2009
The parents of Samuel Butler (1835-1902) wanted him to enter the ministry but religious doubt caused him to leave England upon graduation from Cambridge and settle in New Zealand to become a sheep farmer. He eventually returned to England six years later (1864), and focused on painting and writing, producing the utopian novel Erewhon and Life and Habit, a work that embraces Darwin's theory of evolution, though Butler disagreed with the element of luck.
Butler began working on The Way of All Flesh in 1873 and continued to revise it for the next twelve years, though he refused to publish it while living. The book, quite autobiographical, is a strong condemnation of Victorian values and protrays Ernest Pontifex's revolt against his parents' plans for him. Ernest is successful in his attempt to determine his own course in life and, like his creator, becomes a writer.