Samuel Butler

Erewhon by Samuel Butler (Vintage 1969 Illustrated Hardcover)

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“Erewhon” is a satirical novel written by Samuel Butler, first published anonymously in 1872. The title “Erewhon” is an anagram for “nowhere,” reflecting the fictional setting of the novel. The work is often regarded as a precursor to dystopian literature and has influenced later writers in the genre.

Here is a brief summary of the novel:

The story begins with the narrator, who is exploring the remote fictional country of Erewhon in New Zealand. As the narrator travels, he discovers that Erewhon is a highly advanced and utopian society in many ways, but with some peculiar and seemingly contradictory features.

Erewhon’s citizens have developed advanced technologies, medicine, and education, but they have a strong aversion to certain technologies that they consider dangerous to their way of life. Most notably, Erewhon has banned the use of machines because the citizens fear that machines might gain intelligence and rebel against humans.

Another notable aspect of Erewhon is its system of criminal justice. Instead of punishing criminals, the society attempts to “cure” them through a process of re-education and rehabilitation. Those who cannot be rehabilitated are sent to live in the mountains.

The novel explores themes of morality, free will, and the consequences of unchecked progress. It satirizes Victorian society, organized religion, and the prevailing attitudes towards science and evolution during Butler’s time.

“Erewhon” is a thought-provoking and imaginative work that challenges conventional thinking. Its influence can be seen in later dystopian literature, particularly in works such as George Orwell’s “1984” and Aldous Huxley’s “Brave New World.” Samuel Butler’s observations on society and human nature continue to be relevant, making “Erewhon” a classic in the genre of speculative fiction.


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