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Erewhon

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or; Over the Range


"There is no action save upon a balance of considerations."--Paraphrase.


Preface to the First Edition: The Author wishes it to be understood that Erewhon is pronounced as a word of three syllables, all short—thus, Ĕ-rĕ-whŏn


From the Preface to the Revised Edition:

Lastly, if my readers note a considerable difference between the literary technique of "Erewhon" and that of "Erewhon Revisited," I would remind them that, as I have just shown, "Erewhon" look something like ten years in writing, and even so was written with great difficulty, while "Erewhon Revisited" was written easily between November 1900 and the end of April 1901. There is no central idea underlying "Erewhon," whereas the attempt to realise the effect of a single supposed great miracle dominates the whole of its successor. In "Erewhon" there was hardly any story, and little attempt to give life and individuality to the characters; I hope that in "Erewhon Revisited" both these defects have been in great measure avoided. "Erewhon" was not an organic whole, "Erewhon Revisited" may fairly claim to be one. Nevertheless, though in literary workmanship I do not doubt that this last-named book is an improvement on the first, I shall be agreeably surprised if I am not told that "Erewhon," with all its faults, is the better reading of the two.

SAMUEL BUTLER. August 7, 1901


Erewhon was first published anonymously in 1872. The title is also the name of a country, supposedly discovered by the protagonist. In the novel, it is not revealed where Erewhon is, but it is clear that it is a fictional country. Butler meant the title to be read as "nowhere" backwards even though the letters "h" and "w" are transposed, as it would have been pronounced in his day (and still is in some dialects of English). The book is a satire on Victorian society.

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