Samuel Butler (writer)

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Samuel Butler

Samuel Butler (born December 4, 1835 in Langar near Bingham , Nottinghamshire , † June 18, 1902 in London ) was a British writer, composer , philologist , painter and scholar.


Butler studied at Cambridge and, after an argument with his father, emigrated to New Zealand in 1859 , where he raised sheep. In 1864 he returned to England and lived at Clifford's Inn near London's Fleet Street for the rest of his life . He died in London in 1902.


Butler dealt with, among other things, Charles Darwin's theory of evolution , which he criticized:

"The hen is just a trick of the egg to produce a new egg."

- Samuel Butler

At the end of the 19th century, in his satirical novel " Erewhon ", he exposed the religious and social double standards of his contemporaries as the wrong world. He remained an outsider in many ways, including his rejection of the unbroken belief in progress of the Victorian Age . Butler has often been compared to Swift and was particularly influential on Somerset Maugham , DH Lawrence , HG Wells, and James Joyce . His initial admiration for Darwin was followed by later distancing; at the same time he approached the church again in later years, but at the same time criticized its orthodoxy .

He is best known for his funny and critical aphorisms , e.g. B .:

"All animals, except man, know that the principal business of life is to enjoy it."

"All living beings except humans know that the main purpose of life is to enjoy it."

- Samuel Butler : - "The Way of All Flesh", Roman (posthumously 1903) - Wikisource , chapter 19.

His close interest in the art of the Sacri Monti is reflected in the Alps and sanctuaries of Piedmont and the canton of Ticino (1881) and Ex Voto (1888).

"Mesopotamia", New Zealand, ca.1868


Erewhon (novels)
  • 1 Erewhon, or, Over the Range (1872; also: Erewhon , 1926)
    • German:
      • Ergindwon, or Beyond the Mountains. Based on the fifth edition of Samuel Butler's Erewhon by JD Barth, Leipzig 1879.
      • Beyond the Mountains or Strange Journey to the Land of Aipotu. After the 18th, revised edition of Erewhon. Translated by Herberth E. Herlitschka . Phaidon-Verlag, Vienna 1928, DNB 365316229 .
      • Erewhon. Translated by Fritz Güttinger . Manesse Verlag, Zurich 1961, DNB 450728528 .
      • Strange trips to the land of Erewhon. Translated by Gertrud Lugert. Modifications made by Horst Höhne. With an afterword by Joachim Krehayn. Rütten & Loening, 1964, DNB 450728536 .
      • Erewhon or beyond the mountains. Translated by Fritz Güttinger. Eichborn (The Other Library # 120), Frankfurt am Main 1994, ISBN 3-8218-4120-6 .
  • 2 Erewhon Revisited Twenty Years Later Both by the Original Discoverer of the Country and by His Son (1901; also: Erewhon Revisited: A Satire , 1926)
  • Erewhon and Erewhon Revisited (Collective Edition of 1 and 2; 1927)
The Way of All Flesh (novel)
  • The Way of All Flesh (1903)
    • German:
      • The way of all flesh 2 vols. Translated by Herberth E. Herlitschka. Phaidon-Verlag, Vienna 1929.
      • The way of all flesh. Translated by Hans Kauders. Gutenberg Book Guild , Zurich 1946, DNB 572581130 .
      • The way of all flesh. Translated by Helmut Findeisen. Aufbau-Verlag, Berlin 1960, DNB 450728544 .
Writings and essays
  • Darwin among the Machines (1863)
  • Lucubratio Ebria (1865)
  • The Fair Haven (1873, essay)
  • Life and Habit (1878)
  • Evolution, Old and New; Or, the theories of Buffon, Dr. Erasmus Darwin, and Lamarck, as compared with that of Charles Darwin (1879)
  • Unconscious Memory (1880)
  • Alps and Sanctuaries of Piedmont and the Canton Ticino (1881)
  • Luck or Cunning as the Main Means of Organic Modification? (1887)
  • Ex voto; An Account of the Sacro Monte or New Jerusalem at Verallo-Sesia (1888)
  • The Humor of Homer (1892)
  • The life and letters of Dr. Samuel Butler: Head-master of Shrewsbury School 1798-1836 and afterwards Bishop of Lichfield, in so far as they illustrate the scholastic, religious and social life of England, 1790-1840 (1896, 2 vols., Biography about his grandfather Samuel Butler , an English scholar)
  • The Authoress of the Odyssey (1897, essay)
  • The Iliad of Homer, Rendered into English Prose (1898, translation)
  • Shakespeare's Sonnets Reconsidered (1899, essay)
  • The Odyssey of Homer (1900, translation)
  • God the Known and God the Unknown (1909, posthumous)
  • Selections from Previous Works: With remarks on GJ Romanes' "Mental evolution in animals", and A psalm of Montreal (1884)
  • Cambridge Pieces (1903)
  • Essays on Life, Art and Science (1908)
  • The Note-Books of Samuel Butler (1912)
    • English: Woolly Pig and Silverware: Notes of a Victorian Maverick Thinker. Edited and translated by a team of English students from the Free University of Berlin under the direction of Manfred Pfister . Stutz (KritBrit # 6), Passau 2005, ISBN 3-88849-093-6 .
  • A First Year in Canterbury Settlement With Other Early Essays (1912)
  • The Humor of Homer and Other Essays (1913)
  • Canterbury Pieces (1914)
  • The Essential Samuel Butler (1950)
  • An annotated edition of the Characters of Samuel Butler (1612-1880) with textual, critical and historical introduction (1965)

German compilation:

  • Of gossips, enthusiasts and scoundrels: character images and aphorisms. Edited by Anselm Schlösser. Translated by Jutta Schlösser. Dieterich (Dieterich Collection # 399), Leipzig 1984, DNB 850097754 .
individual essays and short stories
  • Andromeda (1971, in: Jorge Luis Borges and Adolfo Bioy Casares (eds.): Extraordinary Tales )
  • The Book of the Machine (1969, in: Fairy Tales for Computers )
  • The Menace of the Machine (1966, in: IO Evans (Ed.): Science Fiction Through the Ages 1 )


Web links

Wikisource: Samuel Butler  - Sources and full texts
Commons : Samuel Butler  - Collection of Pictures, Videos and Audio Files

Individual evidence

  1. Quoted from Gerhard Vollmer: Evolutionary Epistemology . S. Hirzel, Stuttgart, 2nd edition 1980, ISBN 3-7776-0366-X , p. 167
  2. ^ Samuel Butler on