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Erewhon

Samuel Butler. Erewhon, or, Over the Range. London: Trübner & Co., 1872

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SAMUEL BUTLER
Erewhon

Considered the first utopian romance, Erewhon (Nowhere spelled backward), is both a witty satire on Victorian England and a discussion of evolution. Butler has Erewhonians treat crime as an illness to be cured and illness as punishable by imprisonment, limning both his society’s wicked and inhumane prison system and Victorian reliance on doctors. In “The Book of the Machines,” he likens the evolution of machines to that of man, reflecting both his homage to Darwin as a liberator from the biblical literalism and his fear of Darwin’s mechanistic view of human nature. A best-seller in 1872, Erewhon anticipated the utopian works of William Morris, Aldous Huxley and George Orwell.

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