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The Way of All Flesh (Paperback)
List Price: $16.00
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The Way of All Flesh, published posthumously in 1903, has been referred to as a delayed-action bomb. The novel did not cause an immediate sensation, but when, in 1907, the leading dramatist of the day, George Bernard Shaw, called Butler a neglected genius and praised The Way of All Flesh as one of the greatest novels ever written, Butler's fame skyrocketed. The ensuing critical and popular acceptance of the novel and the renewed interest in Butler's other works thoroughly vindicated the author's resolute faith in himself as a speaker addressing himself to future generations. When Butler finished the novel in 1885, Charles Darwin had been dead for three years, and Butler was already beginning to detect a wider acceptance of his stubbornly asserted views on evolution. His decision to keep his novel in a drawer, however, was possibly influenced by a desire not to offend his sisters, who compositely appear in the novel as Ernest Pontifex's sister, Charlotte, and by an awareness of the need for revisions in the work, especially the last few chapters. 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 centur.