Erewhon (an anagram for "nowhere") is a faraway land where machinery is forbidden, sickness is a punishable crime, and criminals receive compassionate medical treatment. Butler's brilliant Utopian novel is an entertaining and thought-provoking work, taking aim at such hallowed institutions as family, church, and mechanical progress.
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Est. Packaging Dimensions: Length: 9.21" Width: 6.14" Height: 0.94" Weight: 1.42 lbs.
Release Date Dec 17, 2007
Publisher Tutis Digital Publishing Pvt. Ltd.
ISBN 8184563531 ISBN13 9788184563535
Availability 0 units.
More About Samuel Butler
Samuel Butler (1835-1902) was the son of a clergyman. He was educated at Shrewsbury and St John's College Cambridge and, after a disagreement with his father about his choice of career, left England to become a sheep farmer in New Zealand, where he stayed until 1864. On his return to England, he took up residence in Clifford's Inn where he stayed until his death. He began to study painting and worked at it for ten years, exhibiting occasionally at the Royal Academy. In 1872 he anonymously published Erewhon which was based on the letters he wrote to his father from New Zealand. This was followed by The Fair Haven, an attack on the Resurrection, making clear the religious skepticism which had turned Butler against a career in the church.
In the years that followed, Butler wrote several works attacking contemporary scientific ideas, in particular Darwin's theory of natural selection. In 1881 he began to write books on art and travel, the first of these being Alps and Sanctuaries of Piedmont and the Canton Ticino. Around this time, he was also experimenting with musical composition and collaborated with Festing Jones on the oratorio entitled Narcissus. An interest in Homer led him to write lively translations of The Iliad and The Odyssey and he formed the theory that these two works were written by a woman. Butler's partly autobiographical work The Way of All Flesh was the result of many years' labor and appeared posthumously in 1903.
Hamfisted and too long, even at ~150 pages Feb 8, 2008
Erewhon, like Butler's other (magnificient and far more effective) novel The Way of All Flesh, is rife with social satire. The optimistic and devout explorer trots out all kinds of European imperialist platitudes and, as with most satirical characters, is almost totally one-dimensional. Most other characters- noble savages, squaws, and other racist or bigoted archetypes, are fodder for the author's wit more than flesh and blood. This would be fine if the satire were as proficient as, say, Voltaire's, but it is not.
As others have mentioned, the "justice" system in Erewhon whereby the sick are punished and criminals rehabilitated to health is the main punchline. In a short story this concept would have been brilliant but the length of the book grinds the joke into the ground well before the narrative draws to a close. It's a joke with a punchline that doesn't justify the extravagant buildup.
EREWHON by Samuel Butler Dec 7, 2007
Originally published in 1872 and now billed as the "second great satire of the nineteenth century," Erewhon is a critique of Victorian society. In it, a British man comes across a never-before discovered society (which he is convinced is the lost tribes of Israel).
Erewhon has no plot to speak of. Here is its pattern: Butler gives us a bizarre scenario that seemingly makes no sense, takes us through it, and finally explains its parallel to Victorian life. Then this repeats. This is the whole book, book-ended by forty pages of setup (most of which is unnecessary) and a convenient and tidy ending. As such, the reader may feel like he is reading a work on nonsense philosophy rather than a work of fiction.
This is not to say that there is nothing worthwhile here. Occasionally, there are flashes of brilliance, and there are some thought-provoking elements. Erewhonians, for example, treat the sick like criminals and treat criminals like they have diseases. In a modern-day version, perhaps, those who have self-inflicted poor health, like some of the obese and diabetic, would be considered criminal.
On the whole, working through the philosophical meanderings of Butler's scenarios is tedious. It certainly does not help that many aspects of Victorian society are now foreign to us. Erewhon hasn't held up. Stick with Swift.
Unexpected Early Science Fiction - 3 1/2 Stars Jun 2, 2007
I bought this book expecting strait social satire. It turns out that the first five chapters are more of an adventure story through a jungle, and are really quite boring. If I could re-edit the book today I would cut them out. When we finally enter Erewhon, the story and the satire pick up, and the read is much more pleasant. Then, unexpectedly, about two-thirds of the way into the book, it becomes a very interesting science fiction tale of why the Erewhonians abandoned technology for fear that the machines would evolve into intelligent, conscious, thinking machines able to reproduce and replace man at the top of the evelutionary ladder! I was pleasantly surprised by this because science fiction is my favorite genre, and in all my reading I've never heard of this concept being thought of more than 130 years ago!
If you can get through the first five chapters, I recommend this book.
The crime: Tuberculosis; The sentence: Life of hard labor May 2, 2007
A novel similar in concept to "Gulliver's Travels", this novel leads us to the unexplored country, for Europeans anyway, of Erewhon. Through the eyes of the unnamed English protagonist, Erewhon serves as a satire to the Victorian society in existence when this book was penned. Erewhon delivers harsh criticisms of certain valued institutions, yet it lacks the pertinence and timelessness of a truly great novel.
Granted, "Erewhon" was written in the 1870s, at the height of Victorian society in England. The protagonist wanders into the undiscovered country of Erewhon, which at first glance seems to be a utopia. However, the true nature of Erewhon is revealed, where a set of perverse and absurd laws govern the citizens and keep then in a static state of existence. Illnesses are crimes, whereas "moral" sins (such as embezzlement) are treated sympathetically as a sickness. Although they had been technologically advanced, all "modern" (think steam engines) machinery has been outlawed lest the machines will evolve and eventually rule the world, a la "The Matrix."
Butler leads the reader into an alternate vision of reality in his land of Erewhon. The Church of England and religion in general are ridiculed by the Erewhonians beliefs, or lack of, in their own deities. The idea of imperialism and colonization for the benefits of the natives is rendered absurd, as the protagonist dreams of enslaving the Erewhonians to a "religious" sugar plantation owner for their own good (at least, I hope Butler was not serious). The aristocracy and treatment of the poor are indirectly ridiculed in the Erewhonian emphasis on aesthetics and wealth above all else. Vegetarians are satirized in a prophet's misguided treatise on how animals are similar to people. The anti-machinists and anti-progress activists are dealt a blow in the rambling, non-sensical diatribe on the diabolical humanization of machines. In addition, higher education is criticized as a bastion of singular thought where original ideas are discouraged and pompous professors profess to know everything (some things never change).
Unfortunately, many of the criticisms are too obsolete for the modern reader. A central parody, the "Musical Banks", refers to an outdated process of money-changing in the English church, a reference sure to allude most readers (I needed to research it myself to see what the #@*&! Butler was alluding to). The idea that the Erewhonians are the "lost tribes" of Israel also seems to repute logic, as this country is presumably in New Zealand. The last third of the book, save the conclusion, contains a lengthy treatise on the anti-machine movement, followed by another on animals, and then plants. The anti-machine essay, in particular, is convoluted, contrived, and seems to never end, a sleep inducer if there ever was one.
"Erewhon" certainly would have been provocative and controversial in the era it was written. However, it has lost some potency over time. Yet, if you can gloss over the "Book of Machines" chapters, then "Erewhon" provides a delightful and light-hearted look into the window of the Victorian mindset and one author's attempt to bring awareness of the ills of his society.
better in concept than execution.. Nov 10, 2006
'Erewhon' has all the makings of a great book. Written during the stifling Victorian era, 'Erewhon' is about a fictitious land where society and government behave in ways counter to (the then) modern thinking. For example, machinery of nearly all form is viewed with contempt. And being physically sick is a criminal offense. Etcetera, etcetera. Too bad this 'Brave New World' predecessor wasn't produced by a more a capable writer.
So what is wrong with 'Erewhon'? For starters, almost no effort is spent on character development. The leading character, who narrates 'Erewhon', is a young British man .. and that's the extent we know of him. And there is scant plot development. After our young Brit finds himself in Erewhon he really doesn't do much other than lecture the reader on the odd Erewhonian customs. After a short while it gets a bit boring. Mercifully, 'Erewhon' is a short novel.
Bottom line: its creative premise is wasted by poor writing. A miss.