This was a remarkably unenjoyable read, seeming much longer than it’s 192 pages. I do, however, bump it up from two-star status for two reasons: a) I recognize that I am in no frame of mind to be reading novels of this caliber at present time, precluding me from giving it a fair chance, and b) the amount of thought and tenacity that Butler employed in developing his arguments (however tedious they may have seemed) is rather impressive.
Ultimately, though, it was impossible for me to care about a satirical critique of Victorian England. The somewhat-inappropriate yet nevertheless-unavoidable comparison is to Gulliver’s Travels, which succeeds because it has a more universal application. Likewise, Butler is at his best with his universal critiques of human nature or western society (e.g. “The College of Unreason”), although those moments occur far too infrequently.
But take this review with a grain of salt because I really just shouldn’t be reading any novels at this time. Apologies to Mr. Butler’s remaining legacy: I’ll give you another go-round with The Way of All Flesh in a few months. Next stop: non-fiction!