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The Way of All Flesh (Paperback)
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Hailed by George Bernard Shaw as "one of the summits of human achievement," Butler's autobiographical account of a harsh upbringing and troubled adulthood satirizes Victorian hypocrisy in its chronicle of the life and loves of Ernest Pontifex. Along the way, it offers a powerful indictment of 19th-century England's major institutions. In 1998, the Modern Library ranked The Way of All Flesh twelfth on its list of the 100 best English-language novels of the 20th century 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. (Excerpt) Butler's cutting semi-autobiographical critique of Victorian hypocrisy, both familial and religious. So vicious was it, in fact, that he refused to see it published while he was alive because he feared it to be too contentious (and, perhaps, wished to spare himself the reproach of family members so clearly caricatured in the story).