Aldous Huxley 1894–-1963
British-American novelist, short story writer, essayist, poet, and playwright. See also Aldous Huxley Criticism (Volume 1), and Volumes 3, 4, 5, 8, 18.
Huxley's short stories, all written between 1920 and 1930, cover a relatively short period in his prolific forty-seven-year writing career. The author celebrated for “novels of ideas,” in particular the “dystopian” novel Brave New World, is little remembered today for his short fiction, but they do reflect in less complex structure many of the concerns he developed in his mature works. These include the search for order in chaos; the fragmentation, decay, and lack of wholeness and values in postwar society; the hostility of a world that thwarts ambition and expectations; and the artist's quest for identity. Most of the stories are witty and satirize modern values, particularly among the upper class, and display a sometimes bitter skepticism at the meaningless of life. While they were received fairly well during his life, later scholars of Huxley's work have generally ignored the stories, as it is agreed that the author's important ideas and concerns are given a far more eloquent voice in his novels. However, the stories continue to be appreciated for their wry humor, brilliant observation, sophisticated literary style, and skeptical view of humanity in post-World War I England.
Huxley was born in 1894 in Surrey, England, to an intellectually prominent family. His father, Leonard, was a respected essayist and editor, and his grandfather, Thomas Henry Huxley, was a leading biologist and proponent of Charles Darwin's theory of evolution. He was also the great-nephew of the poet Matthew Arnold, the grandson of the Reverend Thomas Arnold, and the nephew of the novelist Mrs. Humphrey Ward. Huxley's brother, Julian, would eventually become a noted biologist and his half-brother, Andrew, would win the 1963 Nobel Prize for his work in physiology. The early years in Huxley's life were passed happily in a stimulating, intellectual household. He was known as a sensitive boy and one who showed a mystical bent early on. But a series of tragedies befell Huxley in his teenage years. In 1908 his mother died of cancer, two years later he contracted an eye disease that permanently damaged his sight, and in 1914 his brother Trevenen committed suicide. These events had a profound effect on the concerns and mood of Huxley's writing.
While at Oxford from 1913 to 1916 Huxley started editing literary journals and began writing. In 1916, he published his first volume of poetry. He married a young Belgian refugee, Maria Nys, in 1919, and a year later his son, Matthew, was born. That year he also published his first volume of stories, Limbo to mild critical acclaim; two years later he produced another volume, Mortal Coils. Huxley gained wider recognition with his novel Crome Yellow; by 1923 his reputation was sufficiently secure that Chatto and Windus agreed to publish two of his works of fiction each year for the next three years. In 1923 Huxley and his wife moved to Italy, where they lived for four years. While abroad he wrote and published the novels Antic Hay and Those Barren Leaves and two volumes of short fiction, Little Mexican and Other Stories and Two or Three Graces and Other Stories. Huxley's volume of stories, Brief Candles, appeared in 1930, two years after the release of his highly acclaimed novel of ideas, Point Counter Point, which secured his reputation as one of the important literary figures of his day.
After 1930, Huxley's work began to reflect his increasing concern with humanistic ideas and ideals as well as politics. This is most vividly shown in Brave New World, his ironic satire of a utopia, which warns us against the dangers of political manipulation and technological development. In the late 1930s Huxley moved to California, where he became a screenwriter and developed his interest in mysticism, Eastern thought, and mind-altering drugs; he examines his experiences with one of these, mescaline, in The Doors of Perception. Huxley's later work clearly disavows some of the bleakness of his earlier outlook, and seeks a positive solution to the problem of an insane world. Perhaps as an antidote to his despairing sentiments in Brave New World, in his final novel, Island, he depicts a good utopia.
Huxley remained in California for most of the rest of his life. His wife, Maria, died in 1955, and Huxley married Laura Archera a year later. He died on November 22, 1963, the same day that President John F. Kennedy was assassinated.
Major Works of Short Fiction
Huxley produced eight volumes of short stories in his career. The first, Limbo, is a collection of six satiric tales about English country-house characters. These youthful wartime stories are full of parallels with Huxley's own life: in “Death of Lully” a woman has breast cancer, as did Huxley's own mother; a suicide like that of Huxley's brother occurs in “Eupompus gave Splendour to Art by Numbers.” Also, there are numerous allusions to distorted vision; the stories' narrators are often erudite and urbane as Huxley himself was; many of the characters are cerebral persons who neglect their emotional and social aspects. The tone of the stories, for all their witty satire, is one of decay and fragmentation, of hopes and values lost. The 1922 volume Mortal Coils continues many of these themes in a postwar setting. In this volume appears Huxley's best known story, “The Gioconda Smile,” about a man, Hutton, who fails in his attempt to live a life of reason and restrain his emotional appetites. Also in the volume is “Nuns and Luncheon,” a bitterly sad story of Sister Agatha who falls in love with a wounded soldier she has nursed and who leaves the convent only to be abandoned and humiliated by the man she considered her savior. Huxley's next collection, Little Mexican contains the long tale “Uncle Spenser” that captures the harsh realities of lives disrupted by war. While in prison camp, Uncle Spenser falls in love with a fellow prisoner, a girl half his age named Emmy Wendle, whom he believes he will marry, but after the war he cannot find her. Another notable story in the collection, “Young Archimedes,” about a child musical genius who commits suicide, is another statement of Huxley's common themes of expectations dashed and the difficulty in coming to terms with reality in a disorderly world.
Two or Three Graces contains a novella of that name and several shorter pieces. Kingham, the central character of the novella, has similarities with the novelist D. H. Lawrence, whom Huxley met in 1915 and became friends with in Italy. Kingham is a writer with perverse passions and whose unreason dominates his affair with Grace Peddley, whom he humiliates in order to stimulate his own emotions. The other stories in the volume are about lonely, ostracized persons whose romantic expectations of the world do not square with its harsh reality. Huxley's final collection of short fiction, Brief Candles, is filled with emotionally and spiritually impoverished characters, most notably in “The Claxtons,” about a family of egocentric personalities. The novella “After the Fireworks,” about an aging novelist who has affinities with Lawrence's view, is a satire of Lawrence's philosophy of harmony expressed through sexuality, as the protagonist becomes literally ill after taking a young lover. This was probably the last short piece Huxley wrote and shows his growing concern with the need for spiritually meaningful answers in a disordered and chaotic world.
Huxley's reputation was built on his novels and nonfiction, and today scholarly interest in his work is generally confined to his writing in those genres. During his lifetime, Huxley's short fiction drew mixed reviews. With the publication of Limbo, Huxley was hailed by many as an important new voice that portrayed with delicacy and sophistication the postwar temperament. However, some critics complained about the self-consciously clever tone and lack of depth to the stories. Virginia Woolf, in an early review of Limbo, though, called the tales more than amusing, insisting that when Huxley “forgets himself” his stories can be interesting. The feeling of most critics, however, was that Huxley was not a natural short story writer. While admiring their artistic sophistication, fresh sense of irony, and insightful observation, most early reviewers felt that the tales suffered from saying too much and not staying true to the short story form. Contemporary critics also tend to dismiss Huxley's stories as being of little importance in his literary corpus. They contend Huxley needed the fuller range of the novel to fully develop his ideas, and most of his important concerns are reflected in his longer works. Huxley too felt his calling was not as a short story writer, and in a letter to his father explained that “the mere business of telling a story interests me less and less. … The only really and permanently absorbing things are attitudes towards life and the relation of man to the world.” Huxley's stories are interesting today primarily for the insight they provide into his development as a writer and for his depiction of the social despair of the postwar period.
Mortal Coils 1922
Little Mexican and Other Stories 1924
Two or Three Graces and Other Stories 1926
Brief Candles 1930
The Gioconda Smile 1938
Twice Seven; Fourteen Selected Stories 1944
Collected Short Stories 1969
The Burning Wheel (poetry) 1916
Leda and Other Poems (poetry) 1920
Crome Yellow (novel) 1921
Antic Hay (novel) 1923
On the Margin (essays) 1923
Point Counter Point (novel) 1925
Those Barren Leaves (novel) 1925
Brave New World (novel) 1932
Eyeless in Gaza (novel) 1936
After Many a Summer (novel) 1939
Time Must Have a Stop (novel) 1944
The Perennial Philosophy (essay) 1945
The Gioconda Smile (play) 1948
Ape and Essence (novel) 1948
The Doors of Perception (essay) 1954
The Genius and the Goddess (novel) 1955
Heaven and Hell (nonfiction) 1956
Brave New World Revisited (essay) 1958
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SOURCE: In a review of Limbo, in Aldous Huxley: The Critical Heritage, edited by Donald Watt, 1975, pp. 43-5.
[In the following review of Limbo, originally published in The New Republicin 1920, Gorman compares Huxley's work to Max Beerbohm's.]
Mr. Aldous Huxley, a new and extremely prepossessing English writer, has just been introduced to America with two volumes, Limbo, a collection of prose sketches written in a vein that is, to say the least, individual, and Leda and Other Poems, containing verse that smacks mightily of Mr. T. S. Eliot, and yet has an intriguing appeal quite its own. It was, I believe, in 1916 that Mr. Huxley's first book, The Burning Wheel, was published. A slender volume of verse, bound in paper covers and forming a link in Blackwell's Adventurers All Series, it hardly awakened more than a passing curiosity. But there was more in it than dexterous rhyming. The influence of Jules Laforgue was faintly manifesting itself; a precocious sophistication made itself dimly evident. Mr. Huxley has progressed as a poet since those days.
But it is the prose of Mr. Huxley that has suddenly projected him into the English periodicals and induced an American publisher1 to bring him out over here. The seven pieces that make up the book (not all of them may be defined by the term ‘stories’) form a delectable ensemble. Mr....
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SOURCE: In a review of Limbo, in Aldous Huxley: The Critical Heritage, edited by Donald Watt, 1975, pp. 41-2.
[In the following review of Limbo, originally published in The Times Literary Supplement in 1920, Woolf calls Huxley's stories clever, amusing, interesting, and well written.]
We know for ourselves that Mr. Huxley is very clever; and his publisher informs us that he is young. For both these reasons his reviewers may pay him the compliment, and give themselves the pleasure, of taking him seriously. Instead, that is, of saying that there are seven short stories in Limbo which are all clever, amusing, and well written, and recommending the public to read them, as we can conscientiously do, we are tempted to state, what it is so seldom necessary to state, that short stories can be a great deal more than clever, amusing, and well written. There is another adjective—‘interesting’; that is the adjective we should like to bestow upon Mr. Huxley's short stories, for it is the best worth having.
The difficulty is that in order to be interesting, as we define the word, Mr. Huxley would have to forgo, or go beyond, many of the gifts which nature and fortune have put in his way. …
We hold no brief for the simple peasant. Yet we cannot help thinking that it is well to leave a mind under a counterpane of moderate ignorance; it grows more...
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SOURCE: “Huxley as a Serious Writer,” in Aldous Huxley: The Critical Heritage, edited by Donald Watt, 1975, pp. 74-6.
[In the review of Mortal Coilsbelow, which was originally published in the New York Sunday Tribune in 1922, Cuppy rejects earlier assessments of this collection as superficial, insisting that Huxley is a serious writer.]
In the Dial for June Mr. Raymond Mortimer opines that the principal end and aim of Aldous Huxley is to be ‘amusing,’ and insists to the author of Crome Yellow upon the importance of being earnest.
On May 27 Mr. Burton Rascoe, having lunched, allowed in the Doran offices as to how Aldous Huxley, ‘undoubtedly the most adroit and amusing’ of the clever young Englishmen, ‘deals in superficies, but with a gay, satirical touch.’
On June 13 Mr. Ben Ray Redman, having dined, announced at Mr. Louis Untermeyer's that Aldous Huxley ‘was like Oscar Wilde in the '90's, the clever young froth writer of his day.’
If this sort of thing goes on I don't want to.
And it's almost sure to go on, for Mortal Coils, which has just followed Crome Yellow, is a book of shorter pieces almost as clever and amusing as the novel. I want to point out, with due respect, that Mortal Coils is also just as deeply serious, purposeful, holy, flaming and passionately true...
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Times Literary Supplement (review date 1924)
SOURCE: “Huxley's Elasticity,” in Aldous Huxley: The Critical Heritage, edited by Donald Watt, 1975, pp. 104-05.
[In the following review of Little Mexican, originally published in the Times Literary Supplement in 1924, the critic praises the “elasticity” in Huxley's work, admiring what others might criticize as disproportionate description and indulgence of literary power.]
About Mr. Aldous Huxley there is an elasticity that keeps his work interesting and even exciting. His last novel, Antic Hay, was as rigidly constructed and tightly compacted as a novel could well be: technically (we are speaking only of technique), a firm piece of carpentry. The book of fiction before that was Mortal Coils, in which he was so consciously literary that nearly every one of the stories was offered as an exercise in method. Now comes another book of stories, Little Mexican, in which none of the six displays its method, and only two are at all firmly carpentered. One of these two is ‘Hubert and Minnie’, a common-place of fiction so far as its subject goes, but as well told on its own lines as any story that we know. From the touch about the ferrets to the afternoon light in the mill-garden the story is a little masterpiece of suggestion, contrast, shading-off, so finely contrived that in the first...
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SOURCE: “Arnold Bennett on ‘Little Mexican,’” in Aldous Huxley: The Critical Heritage, edited by Donald Watt, Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1975, pp. 106-07.
[In the following excerpt from his journals, the noted author and critic Bennett generally approves of the characterization in the tales in Little Mexican but says the stories have no proper end and the characters are drawn a little too thoroughly.]
About ‘Uncle Spencer’. This is the first book of Aldous Huxley's that I have really liked. Character drawing in it, for the first time in his books. Uncle Spencer is drawn, emphatically. But technically the story is clumsy. The story nearly ends artistically. Aldous doesn't finish; he ceases. But another perfect page and the end would have been good. He shirks the final difficulty and so there is no end. Same with the next best story ‘Little Mexican’. No end to it. But the character drawing of the N. Count is good. ‘Fard’ is a Chekhov story. But the feelings of the maid when the mistress tells her to rouge herself to hide her tiredness are shirked.
More about novel writing and character drawing. You couldn't fill in a whole character except in a book of enormous length. The young ones don't seem to me to ‘select’. They shove in pell-mell whatever happens to strike them. They don't construct even a character. Then they think they are truer to life: but...
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SOURCE: “Two or Three Graces,” in Aldous Huxley: The Critical Heritage, edited by Donald Watt, Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1975, pp. 137-38.
[In the following review of Two or Three Graces, originally published in the Saturday Review in 1926, Hartley calls Huxley a “literary acrobat” whose perfect execution of difficult feats sometimes leaves readers disappointed because there is little to glean behind the lucidity of his words.]
However good Mr. Huxley's work may be one rarely reads it without a small pang of disappointment. To surpass themselves is for many novelists a comparatively easy task; but here is one who has contrived to set his own standard so high that, captivate and divert us as he may, he still seems to fall short of a proposed excellence. The shadow of a commanding talent and a distinguished mind is thrown across each page, but though Mr. Huxley has many altitudes that are visible enough we can never quite descry that single peak which puts so much, even Mr. Huxley's own work, into the shade. Perhaps it is to his disadvantage that he makes his meaning so clear: he is the victim of his own lucidity. He has such a gift for expression that for the imagination to look beyond the written word in search of private overtones seems an impertinence. And the imagination, always eager to contribute its little quota, however futile and irrelevant, resents being warned off in...
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SOURCE: “More Barren Leaves,” in Aldous Huxley: The Critical Heritage, edited by Donald Watt, Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1975, pp. 139-41.
[In the following review originally published in the Nation in 1926, Krutch calls “Two or Three Graces” a “grotesquely tragic story” that for all its ironical detachment is essentially concerned with moral questions and “the world and its ways.”]
Mr. Aldous Huxley, probably the most intelligent of les fauves,1 exhibits alternately the two moods, the disdainful and the explosive, of his mind. In the first he is an aloof satirist regarding human follies with an air of great detachment and describing them in a style of limpid simplicity; in the second the mask drops from his face and reveals the pain which lies behind it. Tolerant contempt gives way to ferocious hatred, classic irony to raging disgust, and the author descends from his Olympian height to struggle desperately with the problems which he had mocked others for not solving.
This second mood, definitely foreshadowed in the satiric poems which formed the bulk of the volume called Leda, received its fullest expression in that hideous masterpiece Antic Hay. An obscene farce at the heart of which lay an utter despair, it seemed to reach the uttermost possible limits of hatred for a world in which nothing could be believed and nothing, not...
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SOURCE: “This Petty Pace,” in The Nation (New York), Vol. 130, No. 3387, June 4, 1930, p. 654.
[In the following review of Brief Candles, Hazlitt argues that Huxley brings a message to his stories—that if one tries to be superhuman, one becomes subhuman.]
After half a dozen volumes Aldous Huxley has returned to the short story, but he does not bring his old irresponsibility with him. He has acquired a Message, and he insists that we shall hear it. It is the same message that raised its head in nearly every one of the essays in “Do What You Will,” to wit, that if one tries to be superhuman one ends by being subhuman, that the best way of turning a child into a devil is to try to bring it up as an angel. Against the ideal of superhumanness he pleads for the ideal of perfected humanity. Mr. Huxley's, in other words, is just another brand of humanism. But it is at the farthest pole from Babbittean humanism, for instead of moderation Mr. Huxley believes in excess, provided that one excess is counterbalanced by another, and instead of believing in the will to refrain and the middle level he holds (I am here assuming that one of his characters speaks for him) that a human being should “completely and intensely live … on every plane of existence.”
There is no need here to examine this philosophy in detail. It is enough to say that Mr. Huxley, in talking of subhuman,...
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SOURCE: “Persons,” in Short Stories for Study, Harvard University Press, 1953, pp. 272-77.
[In the following study of “Nuns at Luncheon,” Kempton offers two interpretations of the satirical story: as a tale within an anecdote which is a fiction that ends as a polemic, and as a straightforward realistic piece that is no less satirical for being objectified and held in control.]
The story sparkles. Several technical instruments and factors in the management of content contribute to the display. The immediate scene in the restaurant gathers together and unifies for a single effect a number of told immediate scenes and a multitude of details widely separate in space and time. There are two narrators. The more important because more prominent is, of course, Miss Penny; but the function of “I” should not be underrated or misunderstood. “I” describes Miss Penny, contributes suggestions and a long descriptive scene, spurs on the chief teller or reins her in, and is, actually, the motive force behind the story. It was plainly Mr. Huxley's intention for “I” to represent himself: “I” is a writer of fiction; his laconic and noncommittal speech, well calculated to lead on Miss Penny, was shrewdly managed to draw interest and sympathy while acting as contrast to her voluble telling and overbearing manner; his early statement, “but that had been said before,” and, rather late in the story,...
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SOURCE: In a review of Aldous Huxley's Collected Short Stories, in London Magazine Vol. 4 1957, pp. 65-8.
[In the following review of Collected Short Stories, Newby finds Huxley's short stories strained and anti-intellectual, contending that Huxley is not a true short story writer despite the brilliant analysis and observation revealed in some tales.]
One thinks of Aldous Huxley as an intellectual writer. One associates him with the Twenties, short skirts and chromium plate; and one thinks of him, again, as an historian and pamphleteer, disenchanted with the twentieth century, doubtful whether the past was any better and apprehensive of the future; a pessimist, in short. The Collected Short Stories do not, however, bear this out. They provide no text for a dissertation on Mr. Huxley's ideas as they might have done had he been the intellectual, the sustained critic or satirist one, rather idly, supposed. Indeed, there is a strain in the stories which might be thought anti-intellectual. The other misconception is of Mr. Huxley in a bright, Twenty-ish world when he is, more obviously, an Edwardian. The period touch is provided not only by the historical details—a character calling at an inn for a glass of port, a comment on the absurdity of trying to find energy in the atom—but by the urbane literariness of the style.
The owner of the shop was...
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SOURCE: “Mellifluous Educator,” in The New Statesman and Nation, Vol. LIII, No. 1371, June 22, 1957, p. 814.
[In the following review of Collected Short Stories, Pritchett contends that the short story form was indadequate for Huxley's “great scoldings.”]
The attraction of the early Huxley was—as I recall—that of a young fashionable preacher: he was brilliant, worldly, flashing with culture. He was profane and yet soothing, destructive but—inevitable in the Huxleys—a mellifluous educator. The pleasure of his novels came not very much from his people (who were indeed thin transcripts from educated society between London and the Mediterranean) but from the non-stop talk by which he drove them into exhaustion and nagged them into nothingness. Talk was the cult of the Twenties and he was its exploiter. With him it was not table talk; he talked the clothes and souls off his people, he talked them out of life into limbo and, since he was astute enough to know what he was doing, Limbo was the title of his first book of short stories. They are the hors d'oeuvre of a prolonged cannibal feast.
It is thirty-four years since the publication of Limbo and now we have the Collected Stories of his lifetime. They belong mainly to a period now remote: the last age of rich old hedonists, businessmen (vulgar), intellectuals (incompetent in love), savage...
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SOURCE: “Debate Between Body and Soul,” in The CEA Critic, Vol. XXVI, No. 9, June, 1964, pp. 1, 4.
[In the following essay, Beringause contends that an analysis of “The Gioconda Smile” reveals that Huxley is more than a “negative propagandist who satirizes negative nostrums.”]
Study of Aldous Huxley's well-known and consistently misinterpreted short story “The Gioconda Smile” reveals that his application of Freudian theory to art early made him into a much better craftsman than his critics have been willing to admit. This is not to imply that he accepted psychoanalysis and rejected religion.
Using sordid details of a vulgar love affair as a means for spiritual revelation, Huxley in “The Gioconda Smile” strategically blends wit, irony and pathos to achieve a deep intensity. Eager like every serious writer to chart his world for the reader, Huxley exercises cunning control of word and allusion until the pattern of life and death he weaves furnishes a revealing counterpoint of insight and knowledge, belief and feeling. Modern man, the reader learns from “The Gioconda Smile,” will endure and prevail only if he sets up religious standards of behavior in the never-ending war between body and soul.
Despite his ultra-modernity (“The Gioconda Smile,” appearing in the volume Mortal Coils in 1922, utilizes devices also being exploited by James...
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SOURCE: “Struggles with Style and Form: From the Early Verse to ‘Crome Yellow,’” in Aldous Huxley and the Way to Reality, Indiana University Press, 1970, pp. 1-38.
[In the following excerpt from his full-length study of Huxley's works, Holmes discusses the early story “Eupompus Gave Splendour to Art by Numbers” and notes its autobiographical elements.]
In Aldous Huxley's “Eupompus Gave Splendour to Art by Numbers,”1 an intelligent, stable, normal man tells the story of his odd but brilliant friend named Emberlin. Emberlin, we learn, has been studying Eupompus, the fifth century B.C. painter mentioned by Ben Jonson, who actually did base his splendid canvases on numbers. One pictured a three-eyed, three-armed, three-naveled human being accompanied by thirty-three thousand “distinctly limned” black swans; others grouped people so as to imitate exactly the various constellations. Eupompus' final painting was designed to symbolize Pure Number, in the form of a “design of planes radiating out from a single point of light.” Emberlin's interest in these works, however, has passed well beyond mere curiosity. He himself now counts whenever he has the chance—steps, stairs, and the number of tiles in a Holborn public lavatory. Eupompus killed himself before he finished his final masterpiece; Emberlin, we are told triumphantly, will also soon be mad.
There is no...
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SOURCE: “The Absurdity of the Hedonist in Huxley's ‘The Gioconda Smile,’” in Studies in Short Fiction, Vol. VII, No. 2, Spring, 1970, pp. 328-30.
[In the following essay, Watt argues that in his story “The Gioconda Smile,” Huxley crystallizes a significant theme that appears in his work as he seeks value and meaning in life—the absurdity of the hedonist.]
“The Gioconda Smile,” perhaps Aldous Huxley's best-known short story, presents in cameo form one of the leading themes of his major fiction.1 The utter insufficiency of the hedonist's way of life is a recurring idea in Huxley's fiction, an idea that conveys his seminal theme of the essential absurdity of a life without genuine purpose. Henry Hutton's inner conflict in the story reflects the need of the Huxley hero somehow to temper his irresponsible frivolity and to acquire some substantive emotional, moral, or religious values. Like so many of Huxley's vitiated hedonists-in-spite-of-themselves—Gumbril Jr. in Antic Hay, Cardan in Those Barren Leaves, Beavis in Eyeless in Gaza, Farnaby in Island—Hutton refuses to take “yes” for an answer, refuses to discover some antidote for his teleological malaise. Hutton is aware of the fundamental preposterousness of his mode of existence, struggles unsuccessfully to adopt a more responsible way of living, and becomes, in the end, a victim of his own...
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SOURCE: “The Use of Irony in Aldous Huxley's Short Fiction,” in On Poets and Poetry, edited by Dr. James Hogg, Institut für Anglistik und Amerikanistik, 1984 pp. 181-214.
[In the following essay, Schubert maintains Huxley's short fiction is mainly concerned with humans' inescapable predestinatio, and that the predominant stylistic device he uses to express this is irony.]
Huxley began his literary career in 1916 with a volume of poems called The Burning Wheel. Four years later Limbo, his first volume of short stories was published, followed by his first novel Crome Yellow in 1921. During the period from 1920 to 1930 Huxley tried all literary genres: he wrote poems, short stories, novels, essays, dramas and travel books. The predominant genre in the 1920s, however, was short fiction, and Limbo was followed by four more volumes of short stories, Mortal Coils (1922), Little Mexican (1924), Two or Three Graces (1926) and Brief Candles (1930). In these stories Huxley is mainly concerned with the ‘human condition’, with fate and predestination which man cannot escape, however hard he tries. Recurrent is also his use of irony, a stylistic device Huxley employs most successfully and most brilliantly in his short stories and early novels.
The single unifying feature in Huxley's work is irony. The moral dilemma is...
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Eschelbach, Claire John and Shober, Joyce Lee. Aldous Huxley: A Bibliography 1916-1959. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1961, 150 p.
Lists all of Huxley's published writings as well as secondary studies of his work until 1959; includes a foreword by Huxley.
Bedford, Sybille. Huxley. London: Carrol & Graf, 1985, 769 p.
Comprehensive biography detailing Huxley's literary and private life as well as the intellectual and social era in which he was a central figure.
Huxley, Laura Archera. This Timeless Moment: A Personal View of Aldous Huxley. New York: Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 1968. 330 p.
Huxley's second wife describes the period in his life from 1948 until his death in 1963.
Additional coverage of Huxley's life and career is contained in the following sources published by the Gale Group: Contemporary Authors, Vols. 85-88; Contemporary Authors New Revision Series, Vol.44; Authors and Artists for Young Adults, Vol. 11; Concise Dictionary of British Literary Biography 1914-1945; Contemporary Literary Criticism, Vols. 1, 3, 4, 5, 8, 11, 18, 35, 79; DISCovering Authors; DISCovering Authors: British; DISCovering Authors: Canadian; DISCovering Authors Modules:...
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