►→see also►→Huxley, Aldous (Leonard)
►→Aldous Huxley – Collected Essays
►→Aldous Huxley- After Many a Summer
►→ALDOUS HUXLEY, Those Barren Leaves
►→Huxley, Aldous (Leonard)
►→Aldous Huxley – BRAVE NEW WORLD
►→Aldous Huxley – Brave New World Revisited
►→Aldous Huxley – The Doors of Perception
►→Aldous Huxley, Ape and Essence
►→Aldous Huxley, Essays: LOVE, SEX, AND PHYSICAL BEAUTY
►→Aldous Huxley: Tragedy and the Whole Truth
►→Aldous Huxley, Essays: Appendix
►→Aldous Huxley, Essays: Decentralization and Self-Government
►→Aldous Huxley, Essays: Drugs That Shape Men’s Minds
►→Aldous Huxley, Essays: Knowledge and Understanding
►→Aldous Huxley, Essays: Madness, Badness, Sadness
►→Aldous Huxley, Essays: Music at Night
►→Aldous Huxley, Essays: Politics and Religion
►→Aldous Huxley, Essays: Sermons in Cats
►→Aldous Huxley, Essays: Subject-Matter of Poetry
►→Aldous Huxley, Essays: The Desert Boundlessness and Emptiness
►→Aldous Huxley, Essays: The Oddest Science
►→Aldous Huxley, Essays: The Olive Tree The Tree of Life
►→Aldous Huxley, Essays: The Scientist’s Role
►→Aldous Huxley, Essays: TRAVEL; The Palio at Siena
►→Aldous Huxley, Essays: Vulgarity in Literature
►→Aldous Huxley, Essays: Words and Behavior
►→Aldous Huxley, Essays: Wordsworth in the Tropics
►→ALDOUS HUXLEY, Eyeless in Gaza
►→Aldous Huxley, Island
►→Aldous Huxley, POINT COUNTER POINT
►→Aldous Huxley, CROME YELLOW
►→ALDOUS HUXLEY, THE DEFEAT OF YOUTH AND OTHER POEMS
►→Aldous Huxley, Time Must Have a Stop
►→Huxley, Aldous – Jacob’s Hands (with Christopher Isherwood)
Aldous Huxley was born into a well-to-do upper-middle-class family, which brought him a rich scientific and humanistic intellectual heritage. He was the grandson of T.H.Huxley, one of the best-known British scientists, and on his mother’s side was related to Matthew Arnold, the great British humanist. His father was a biographer, editor, and poet, and his elder brother, Julian, was a challenging writer and well-known biologist. These facts, plus several irreversible events that marked his early life, placed him in an ambiguous relationship to both science and literature; they also set his remarkably inquisitive mind on an unflagging search for ultimate truth, both objective and metaphysical, wherever it could be found. Given this background, and despite his success as both novelist and essayist at a very early age (in his late twenties and early thirties), Huxley at first experienced enormous frustration at not being a scientist. He later acknowledged, however, that at this time in history, especially in the aftermath of ill- fated events including World War II, being a Michael Faraday would have been more difficult than being a Shakespeare.
Huxley chose the essay as the definitive and preferred vehicle for expressing his ideas, especially after 1936 (a crucial turning point in his life when he decided to abandon pure fictional writing), for several reasons. First, the novel, despite the freedom of viewpoints it could allow the writer, was not the genre that best portrayed reality as intellectuals saw it, but only as they thought and believed it to be. Thus, for Huxley, intellectuals who wrote novels could not reflect real human attitudes. Second, Huxley saw in the essay a means to liberate himself from the restraints of form and style of an established canon, and a door through which he could pass freely among literary, technical, and scientific worlds. He openly stated that his most cherished endeavor as a writer was the achievement of the perfect fusion of the novel and the essay. This statement echoes the general perception that Huxley was an essayist who happened to write novels. It also affirms that this genre, which the Mexican humanist and essayist Alfonso Reyes classified as a form of “ancillary literature” as opposed to “pure literature,” and which he also called “the centaur of genres” (half literature and half science), fits Huxley’s pretext for bringing together his objective and subjective views about both the natural and human worlds. The essay allowed him to uncover this fusion of worlds, as well as to display his enormous knowledge and natural wit.
This hybrid form serves as a means for exploring what he called Proper Studies (1927), namely those dealing with the human being. This series of essays addresses some of his most puzzling themes, ideas that constantly resurfaced in his early attempts at writing poetry, short histories, and drama, through his travelogues, novels, and social and critical essays on painting, art, architecture, ecology, and mysticism. As a 20th– century writer, he was especially concerned with the education of the human being as an “amphibian” (one capable of living in different environments), an epithet he applied to himself.
Huxley’s concerns about the power of science and technology mainly reflect on the damage they could eventually inflict on humans and nature. This view would lead him to swing repeatedly between dystopian and utopian conceptions for the society of his day, especially following World War II, conceptions that motivated his will to synthesize both philosophical and cultural views around the well-being of humanity. This can be gathered, for instance, from his collection of essays in Ends and Means (1937), his philosophical work The Perennial Philosophy (1944), his last and only utopian novel Island (1962), and his posthumous essayistic piece Literature and Science (1963). From reading these works, it is understandable that he should consider himself a Pyrrhonist (skeptical philosopher) and why his entire production can be equally considered biographical, a natural feature of the essay, and one that accounts for the confessional tone of the author.
Huxley’s skepticism may also explain why he caused so much controversy as poet, novelist, and essayist among a wide audience that came to perceive him as an extremely intelligent satirist, ironist, and cold-minded thinker. Surprisingly, these latter features were especially pleasing to his younger admirers, who came to see him as an enlightened leader. These same characteristics, however, would disappoint those same fans when they realized Huxley had abandoned his fictional writing in favor of essayistic didacticism rather than break ground in literary and critical circles.
As a writer, Huxley emphasized both the spirituality and the intellectuality of human life through his rationalistic amalgamation of science, philosophy, and art. The concept of “perennial philosophy” (as an ethical, universal system) appealed to him, especially as a system underlying all the goodness of the world in its natural manifestation (The Doors of Perception, 1954).
As a seeker of ultimate reality, he realized that problems arise when abstract language is used to intellectualize about the modern super-specialized and industrialized world.
Father Joseph of Gray Eminence (1941), principal adviser to Cardinal Richelieu, is for Huxley the example that best illustrates the effects of such intellectualization and abstract language. Huxley’s disillusionment with abstract progress led him finally to seek after mysticism, as he gradually abandoned the belief that one can find salvation by blindly accepting the norms of a highly complex, technological society.
Born 26 July 1894 in Godalming, Surrey. Grandson of the scientist T.H.Huxley. Studied at Eton Coliege, Berkshire, 1908–13; Balliol College, Oxford, 1913–15, B.A. in English, 1916. Worked for the War Office, London, 1917; taught at Eton College, 1918. Married Maria Nys, 1919 (died, 1955): one son. Member of the editorial staff, the Athenaeum,
London, 1919–20; drama critic, Westminster Gazette, 1920–21; assistant at the Chelsea Book Club; worked for Condé Nast Publications, 1922. Lived in Italy, 1923–30, France, 1931–36, and California, from 1937; wrote screenplays for film studios. Experimented with hallucinogenic drugs, 1950s. Married Laura Archera, 1956. Awards: American Academy Award, 1959; Companion of Literature, Royal Society of Literature, 1962.
Died in Los Angeles, 22 November 1963.
Essays and Related Prose
On the Margin: Notes and Essays, 1923
Along the Road: Notes and Essays of a Tourist, 1925
Essays New and Old, 1926
Proper Studies, 1927
Do What You Will: Essays, 1929
Holy Face, and Other Essays, 1929
Music at Night, and Other Essays, 1931
The Olive Tree and Other Essays, 1936
Stories, Essays, and Poems, 1937
Ends and Means: An Enquiry into the Nature of Ideals and into the Methods Employed for Their Realization, 1937
Themes and Variations, 1950
Adonis and the Alphabet, and Other Essays, 1956; as Tomorrow and Tomorrow and Tomorrow, and Other Essays, 1956
Collected Essays, 1959
On Art and Artists, edited by Morris Philipson, 1960
Selected Essays, edited by Harold Raymond, 1961
Literature and Science, 1963
Huxley and God, edited by Jacqueline Hazard Bridgeman, 1992
Hearst Essays, edited by James Sexton, 1994
Between the Wars: Essays and Letters, edited by David Bradshaw, 1994
The Hidden Huxley: Contempt and Compassion for the Masses, edited by David Bradshaw, 1994
Other writings: II novels (Crome Yellow, 1921; Antic Hay, 1923; Those Barren Leaves, 1925; Point Counter Point, 1928; Brave New World, 1932; Eyeless in Gaza, 1936; After Many a Summer Dies the Swan, 1939; Time Must Have a Stop, 1944; Ape and Essence, 1948; The Genius and the Goddess, 1955; Island, 1962) short story collections, several plays and screenplays, travel writing, poetry, works on philosophy, and The Doors of Perception (1954), a book about his drug experiences.
Collected works edition: Collected Works, 1948– (in progress).
Bass, Eben E., Aldous Huxley: An Annotated Bibliography of Criticism, New York: Garland, 1981
Eschelbach, Claire John, and Joyce Lee Shober, Aldous Huxley: A Bibliography 1916– 1959, Berkeley: University of California Press, and Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1961; supplements by Thomas D.Clareson and Carolyn S.Andrews, in Extrapolation 6 (December 1964):2–21, and by Dennis D.Davis, in Bulletin of Bibliography 31 (April-June 1974):67–70
Atkins, John, Aldous Huxley: A Literary Study, New York: Orion Press, and London: Calder and Boyars, revised edition, 1967
Firchow, Peter, Aldous Huxley: Satirist and Novelist, Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1972
Holmes, Charles M., Aldous Huxley and the Way to Reality, Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1970
Thody, Philip, Huxley: A Biographical Introduction, New York: Scribner, 1973
Watt, Donald, Aldous Huxley: The Critical Heritage, London and Boston: Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1975
Watts, Harold H., Aldous Huxley, New York: Twayne, 1969
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