Erewhon by Samuel Butler cover image

Samuel Butler

"I may perhaps be allowed to say a word or two here in
reference to "The Coming Race," to the success of which book
"Erewhon" has been very generally set down as due. This is a
mistake, though a perfectly natural one. The fact is that
"Erewhon" was finished, with the exception of the last twenty
pages and a sentence or two inserted from time to time here
and there throughout the book, before the first advertisement
of "The Coming Race" appeared.
-From the preface to the second edition.

This is another 19th century tale of a traveller discovering a
radically different culture cut off from the rest of humanity, but
it has more in common with Swift's 'Gulliver's Travels' than
with Bulwer-Lytton's subterranean classic, '
The Coming Race'.

Erewhon depicts an isolated and unknown civilisation which
exists in an inaccessible and secret location. Like Swift he uses
the strangers' morals and beliefs to reveal and challenge our

Butler makes no effort to maintain an illusion of reality but
uses the 'other world' to turn ideas upside-down and
inside-out to get unique views on them.

His 'Book of the Machines' (chapters 23-25), depicting machine
evolution, is perhaps more relevant today than when it was
written over 140 years ago and that alone proves Erewhon as
a true classic.
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