The Way of All Flesh (unabridged)

Audio Sample

Samuel Butler

The Way of All Flesh

Read by David Timson


A thinly disguised autobiographical novel, The Way of All Flesh is a powerful critique of late Victorian beliefs and values. It tells of several generations of the Pontifex family, with Ernest, son of hypocritical and domineering parents, at the centre of its narrative. After a disastrous career in the church, culminating in a spell in prison, Ernest goes on to find his own way in the world, rejecting both Christianity and the strictures imposed by his family.

The book’s attack on the domestic, religious and sexual hypocrisy of its time caused the author to delay its publication. However, later authors praised the novel, with George Orwell observing that ‘He would say things that other people knew but didn’t dare to say’, and A.A. Milne describing it as the ‘second- best novel in the English language’.

Audiofile – Earphones Award
  • Running Time: 17 h 30 m

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    Digital ISBN:978-1-78198-471-0
    Cat. no.:NA0588
    Edited by:Timothy Brown
    Released:September 23
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Winner of AudioFile Earphones Award

A.A. Milne called The Way of All Flesh the second-best novel in the English language, but it remains one of the least known. In this audio version David Timson brings out all of its wit and charm, although some knowledge of Victorian Britain may be necessary to appreciate the extent of its satire. Among the five generations of the Pontifex family, there are a fair number of important characters, but the book eventually concentrates on Ernest and his immediate family, including his godfather, Edward Overton, the novel’s narrator. Through accent, tone, and some modest vocal gymnastics, Timson keeps all the major and a great many minor characters alive and individualized, maintaining listeners’ engagement all the way to the end.

D.M.H., AudioFile

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