Samuel Butler (novelist)
Samuel Butler was an iconoclastic Victorian
Victorian era
The Victorian era of British history was the period of Queen Victoria's reign from 20 June 1837 until her death on 22 January 1901. It was a long period of peace, prosperity, refined sensibilities and national self-confidence...

 author who published a variety of works. Two of his most famous pieces are the Utopian satire Erewhon
Erewhon: or, Over the Range is a novel by Samuel Butler, 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 in which part of the world Erewhon is, but it is clear that it is a fictional country...

and a semi-autobiographical novel published posthumously, The Way of All Flesh
The Way of All Flesh
The Way of All Flesh is a semi-autobiographical novel by Samuel Butler which attacks Victorian-era hypocrisy. Written between 1873 and 1884, it traces four generations of the Pontifex family. It represents a relaxation from the religious outlook from a Calvinistic approach, which is presented as...

. He is also known for examining Christian
Christianity is a monotheistic religion based on the life and teachings of Jesus as presented in canonical gospels and other New Testament writings...

 orthodoxy, substantive studies of evolutionary thought
History of evolutionary thought
Evolutionary thought, the conception that species change over time, has roots in antiquity, in the ideas of the ancient Greeks, Romans, and Chinese as well as in medieval Islamic science...

, studies of Italian art, and works of literary history and criticism. Butler also made prose translations of The Iliad and The Odyssey which remain in use to this day.
He was born at the rectory in the village of Langar
Langar, Nottinghamshire
Langar is a small village about four miles south of Bingham in Nottinghamshire and the Vale of Belvoir.-Geography:To the south of the parish of Langar cum Barnstone, on Langar Airfield, it borders Clawson, Hose and Harby, the district of Melton and Leicestershire. At Hose Lane it meets Colston...

, near Bingham
Bingham, Nottinghamshire
Bingham is a market town in the Rushcliffe borough of Nottinghamshire, England.-Geography:With a population of around 9,000 people it lies about nine miles east of Nottingham, a similar distance south-west of Newark-on-Trent and west of Grantham. It is situated where the A46 intersects the A52...

, Nottinghamshire
Nottinghamshire is a county in the East Midlands of England, bordering South Yorkshire to the north-west, Lincolnshire to the east, Leicestershire to the south, and Derbyshire to the west...

, England
England is a country that is part of the United Kingdom. It shares land borders with Scotland to the north and Wales to the west; the Irish Sea is to the north west, the Celtic Sea to the south west, with the North Sea to the east and the English Channel to the south separating it from continental...

 to the Rev. Thomas Butler, son of Dr. Samuel Butler
Samuel Butler (schoolmaster)
Samuel Butler FRS was an English classical scholar and schoolmaster of Shrewsbury, and Bishop of Lichfield. His grandson was Samuel Butler , noted author of the novel "Erewhon"....

, headmaster of Shrewsbury School
Shrewsbury School
Shrewsbury School is a co-educational independent school for pupils aged 13 to 18, founded by Royal Charter in 1552. The present campus to which the school moved in 1882 is located on the banks of the River Severn in Shrewsbury, Shropshire, England...

 and eventual Bishop of Lichfield
Bishop of Lichfield
The Bishop of Lichfield is the ordinary of the Church of England Diocese of Lichfield in the Province of Canterbury.The diocese covers 4,516 km² of the counties of Staffordshire, Shropshire, Warwickshire and West Midlands. The bishop's seat is located in the Cathedral Church of the Blessed...


The Discobolus is put here because he is vulgar -He has neither vest nor pants with which to cover his limbs.

A Psalm of Montreal, st. 5

Life is like playing a violin solo in public and learning the instrument as one goes on.

Speech at the Somerville Club, February 27, 1895

God's merits are so transcendent that it is not surprising his faults should be in reasonable proportion.

"Rebelliousness", Note-Books (1912)

It is the manner of gods and prophets to begin: "Thou shalt have none other God or Prophet but me." If I were to start as a God or a prophet I think I should take the line: "Thou shalt not believe in me. Thou shalt not have me for a God. Thou shalt worship any d_____d thing thou likest except me." This should be my first and great commandment, and my second should be like unto it.

Samuel Butler's Notebooks (1912) self censored "d_____d" in original publication.

Sing, O goddess, the anger of Achilles son of Peleus, that brought countless ills upon the Achaeans. Many a brave soul did it send hurrying down to Hades, and many a hero did it yield a prey to dogs and vultures, for so were the counsels of Jove fulfilled from the day on which the son of Atreus, king of men, and great Achilles, first fell out with one another.

First lines of Butler's translation of The Iliad Universal Review (December 1890)

We can see nothing face to face; our utmost seeing is but a fumbling of blind finger-ends in an overcrowded pocket.

The limits of the body seem well defined enough as definitions go, but definitions seldom go far.