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Erewhon Revisited

Erewhon, Erewhon Revisited, The Fair Haven

Literature Reference: American Literature, English Literature, Classics & Modern FictionEncyclopedia of Literature: Englefield Green Surrey to William Faulkner Biography

Samuel Butler's sequel to Erewhon (1872), published in 1901. The earlier work describes the experiences of its chief protagonist, whom Erewhon Revisited identifies as Thomas Higgs, in the remote land of Erewhon, the name being an anagram of ‘nowhere’. The utopian society in which Higgs finds himself forms the basis for a succession of satires on the religious, social, and moral conventions of Victorian society. Higgs finally returns to England by balloon with his beloved Arowhena Nosnibor, the daughter of an Erewhonian merchant. Erewhon Revisited is narrated by John, the son of Higgs and Arowhena, from his father's records of a return to Erewhon after twenty years. Its central theme reflects Butler's scepticism in The Fair Haven (1873) about the miraculous content of Christianity: Higgs's ascent in the balloon has been mythologized into the official Erewhonian religion of ‘Sunchildism’, which is threatened with collapse when he reveals his identity during the opening of a new temple. He is arrested, but escapes back over the mountain range isolating Erewhon from the known world. The novel is less wide-ranging than Erewhon, partly as a result of its greater concern with consistency of characterization. Butler felt that difficulties over its publication arose from its potential offensiveness to the Church. George Bernard Shaw introduced Butler to his publisher, who issued Erewhon Revisited to favourable reviews in October 1901.

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