The work follows a young traveller who, setting off to make his fortune in a far off country, discovers the remote and idealistic land of Erewhon (backwards it is reminiscent of the word 'Nowhere'). However, it is soon learned that this apparent Utopia has many faults.
Erewhon heavily bears the influence of evolutionary theory, and is written by an author who would later come to oppose the theory of natural selection put forward by Darwin. While Samuel Butler was critical of religious hypocrisy, his archetypal attitudes as a conservative Englishman are prevalent in the book.
It is a fresh and original work of literature, though it has been described by Peter Mudford as lacking in high imagination.