22 September 2008

The way of all flesh - Samuel Butler


You can just tell from the cover that this book is a real keeper right? Wow, what a boring book. Somehow though, it ranks as the #12 book on Modern Library's list of top 100 from the 20th Century. This should be a misnomer, as the book itself was written in the 1870s, but not published until 1903. It makes the list mostly for its attack on Victorian ideals and the rejection of Calvinism. I know, you are really starting to get a literary boner. Believe you me, it was hard to keep it in my pants while reading, luckily I was outfitted with my cranial chastity belt - this prevented my brain from being too understimulated while reading the book.

To be fair, it is simply a case that the book's slow pace is basically antiquated. The ideas themselves are quite progressive for the time, but read today, it takes a person of supreme patience (or someone equipped with my aformentioned cranial chastity belt) to slog through the book.

Conclusion: Unless you are reading all the ML top 100, no real reason to pick this one up.

It was proved incontestably that its ultimate foundation was and ought to be faith, there being indeed no other ultimate foundation than this for any of man's beliefs. If so, the writer claimed that the Church could not be upset by reason. It was founded, like everything else, on initial assumptions, that is to say on faith, and if it was to be upset it was to be upset by faith, by the faith of those who in their lives appeared more graceful, more lovable, better bred, in fact, and better able to overcome difficulties. Any sect which showed its superiority in these respects might carry all before it, but none other would make much headway for long together. Christianity was true in so far as it had fostered beauty, and it had fostered much beauty. It was false in so far as it fostered ugliness, and it had fostered much ugliness

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