Aldous Huxley : importance as Novelist

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      Aldous Huxley (1894-1965) is best known as a writer of the novel of ideas. Huxley is one of the most learned of the English novelists, He is the social historian of England between the two world wars. He lacked the imaginative power of Lawrence and the poetic sensitivity of Virginia Woolf, but he had a more assured grasp of the problems of the time and approached them with more knowledge and a better intellectual equipment than either.

A special technique described as "the musicalisation of fiction enables Huxley to modulate from one key theme to another.
Aldous Huxley

      Crome Yellow (1921), the first novel of Huxley "is something of a youthful fire-work display". It is concerned with the Wimbush family and is satirical in tone. It exposes the spiritually bankrupt people. Antic Hay (1923) is a more witty and devastating novel which brings together the futile characters. Point Counterpoint (1928) is Huxley's important contribution to the experimental novel. It derives technique from music. It is a study in frustration, the frustration brought about by the conflict between passion and reason. Accordingly to Huxley, two thousand years of Christianity had resulted only in self-division. Men had attempted to live in obedience to a repressive ethic instead of in accordance with natural law. Man's foolish attempt to deny the validity of the senses and pretend that he is a spiritual being has condemned him to wretchedness and self-destruction. Alone among the self-divided men Mark Rampian, the life-worshipper, said to represent D. H. Lawrence achieves wholeness.

      A special technique described as "the musicalisation of fiction enables Huxley to modulate from one key theme to another. In this way he conveys a simultaneous impression of the whole image of society. Brave New World (1932) is an ironical presentation of a future state dominated by science which has discovered how to produce life in the laboratory. In this Swiftian fantasy, Huxley introduces the natural man, John the savage who chooses the way of freedom and life against the consciously determined environment. Brave new world is a scientifically controlled state from which emotion has been eliminated with the result that here is no art, culture and religion. John represents Huxley's views on religion and cultural values, which mean the life of spirit.

      The respect for the spirit is further developed in Eyeless in Gaza (1936), in which he reveals a deeper concern for the quality of human personality. It gives an account of Anthony Beavis from a cynical hedonist to the way of the mystic. Beavis learns that selflessness is the proper course, complete detachment from the self, the world, all mankind not commitment.

      This book marks a change of Huxley towards the mystical path. Like Anthony he also becomes disillusioned with the witty pagan society which he once delighted to portray. The latter part of the book is a long sermon on non-attachment and the one ness of life. Here message overrides fiction. Ends and Means (1937) and Grey Eminence (1940) are non-fictional works which advocate a spiritual revival for the individual, who should become uncommitted to power, tame and love. The disinterested spirit, operating in perfect freedom should espouse the perennial philosophy beyond the world and the flesh. After Many a Summer (1940) is a closely knit novel with an exciting main plot, but its basic theme is the contrast between two conceptions of time, that of the mystic and the scientist. In Time Must have a Stop (1945), Huxley returns in manner to the style of Crome Yellow and Antic Hay. The old satiric malice and flippancy are seen in the portraits of Uncle Eustace, Mrs. Gamble, Sebastian and Veromica Thwale. But the most original aspect of Time Must have Stop is Huxley's attempt to explore the consciousness after death. Ape and Essence (1949) is a bitter denunciation of man. He predicts the bestial degradation of the human species after a third world war.

      Huxley continued to elevate mysticism as the one right path for the individual. Huxley was mainly an intellectual, a moralist and a preacher. He expounded ideas rather than characters or life as it is individually lived. His novel form is essayistic and discursive rather than dramatic and close-knit. He preached his ideas through the novels. His novels are formless, diffuse and sprawling. They do not have a sustained plot. Characterisation is not broad and deep. They provide the writer with the opportunity for discussion of the modern problems and spiritual values through conversation. But satire and irony are the chief elements ot his earlier novels. He is often devastating in the exposure of the hollowness and spiritual chaos of the modern world. He has a ready wit and an alert mind and his style sparkles with satire and wit. He may be regarded as a novelist followed H. G. Wells but he is possessed with greater intellect and greater satirical verve than H. G. Wells.

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