Aldous Leonard Huxley


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Huxley, Aldous Leonard

 

Born July 26, 1894, at Go-dalming, Surrey; died Nov. 22, 1963, in Los Angeles, Calif. English writer. Grandson of the biologist and Darwinist T. H. Huxley.

After graduating from Oxford University in 1921, Huxley pursued a literary career. His writings include poetry, short stories, travel notes, biographies, philosophical tracts, and critical essays on literature, theater, music, and painting. He is best known as a novelist. His early novels—Crome Yellow (1921), Antic Hay (1923; Russian translation, 1936), and Point Counter Point (1928; Russian translation, 1936)—are representative of what came to be known as the intellectual novel, or, as Huxley called it, the novel of ideas. Satire is dominant in his books of the 1920’s, the objects of his satire being the traditional snobbery of the British, the pretentiousness and spiritual emptiness of “high society,” and the thoughtless embrace of Freudianism and avant-gardism by some sections of the intelligentsia.

In the 1930’s, Huxley’s work showed a slackening of the satirical impulse; his writings were predominantly concerned with the biological properties of human nature. The antiutopian Brave New World (1932) marked a stage in Huxley’s development; the novel’s basic idea was borrowed by the author from B. Russell’s Scientific Outlook (1931). The “brave new world” (the novel’s title is taken from Shakespeare’s The Tempest) is completely automated, standardized, and soulless, and there is no room in it for art or for the most natural human feelings—love and the maternal instinct.

Huxley’s horror in the face of headlong technological advance and his lack of faith in social progress resulted in his turning toward religion, Eastern mysticism, and the idea of nonresistance to evil. But even the ideas of moral self-perfection in After Many a Summer Dies the Swan (1939) is vitiated by the novel’s grotesquely fantastic ending. In his works of the 1930’s and 1940’s, Huxley comes close to the modernistic treatment of man as a base and unclean animal—as in his novel Ape and Essence (1948). In the postwar years he devoted himself less frequently to artistic creation. Huxley’s evolution from rationalism to mysticism is a clear example of the crisis in the 20th century’s liberal-bourgeois consciousness.

WORKS

Collected Works, vols. 1–26. London, 1946–56.
Collected Short Stories. New York, 1957.
Collected Essays. London, 1959.
Literature and Science. New York, 1963.
Letters. New York, 1970.
Crome Yellow. [Foreword by G. A. Andzhaparidze.] Moscow, 1976.
In Russian translation:
“Prekrasnyi novyi mir” (fragments), Internatsional’naia literatura, 1935, no. 8.

REFERENCES

Palievskii, P. “Gibel’ satirika.” In Sovremennaia literatura za rubezhom. Moscow, 1962.
Zhantieva, D. G. “O. Khaksli.” In her book Angliiskii roman XX v. Moscow, 1965.
Ivasheva, V. V. “O. Khaksli.” In her book Angliiskaia literatura XX v. Moscow, 1967.
Shestakov, V. “Sotsial’naia antiutopiia O. Khaksli—mif i real’nost’.” Novyi mir, 1969, no. 7.
Allen, W. Traditsiia i mechta. Moscow, 1970. (Translated from English.)
Atkins, J. Aldous Huxley. London, 1967.
Holmes, C. M. Aldous Huxley and the Way to Reality. Bloomington-London [1970].
Woodcock, G. Dawn and the Darkest Hour. New York, 1972.
Thody, P. Aldous Huxley. London, 1973.
Bedford, S. Aldous Huxley: A Biography, vols. 1–2. London, 1973–74.

G. A. ANDZHAPARIDZE