Aldous Huxley

Great is truth, but still greater, from a practical point of view, is silence about truth. By simply not mentioning certain subjects... totalitarian propagandists have influenced opinion much more effectively than they could have by the most eloquent denunciations. -- Aldous Huxley

One of the many reasons for the bewildering and tragic character of human existence is the fact that social organization is at once necessary and fatal. Men are forever creating such organizations for their own convenience and forever finding themselves the victims of their home-made monsters. -- Aldous Huxley

Words form the thread on which we string our experiences. -- Aldous Huxley

Experience is not what happens to a man; it is what a man does with what happens to him. -- Aldous Huxley

Maybe this world is another planet's hell. -- Aldous Huxley

Born in 1894 near Godalming in Surrey, Aldous Huxley (1894-1963) established his reputation with his chilling account of the future, Brave New World (1932). He consolidated his reputation with The Doors of Perception (1954) and its sequel Heaven and Hell (1956), his account of experimentation with mescalin, shades of Don Juan and Carlos Castaneda to come.

Huxley was born into a famous family. His grandfather was the scientist T H Huxley, his mother the niece of essayist Mathew Arnold. He achieved a First in English Language and Literature from Oxford in 1916.

For a brief period, Huxley taught at Eton, where he himself had been a pupil. One of his pupils was Eric Blair, later better known under his pen name of George Orwell.

His first major novel, written in the nineteen-twenties, was Chrome Yellow (1921). Other major works followed: Those Barren Leaves (1925), Point Counter Point (1928). For most of the 1920s, Huxley lived in Italy.

It was in the lead up to World War Two that Huxley wrote his defining work, Brave New World (1932). It was also during this period that Huxley wrote his pacifist novel, Eyeless in Gaza (1936).

Brave New World, together with Nineteen Eighty-Four by George Orwell, were the two novels that described the nightmare world we were all to inherit. There had been an earlier Russian novel covering a similar theme, but it was not well known.

In 1937, at the height of his fame, Huxley left Europe and went to live in California where he worked for a time as a screenwriter. It was whilst living in California, that Huxley came to believe that the solution to the world's problems lay in inner enlightenment. He spent the rest of his life exploring mysticism.

Huxley became the guru of the hippie generation and all that followed, The Doors of Perception and Heaven and Hell essential reading. Even leading to the naming of The Doors, one of the seminal bands of the period. The Beatles featured Huxley on the cover of Sgt Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band.

The title of Heaven and Hell is derived from lines in the book The Marriage of Heaven and Hell by William Blake.

Brave New World Revisited (1958), was an attempt to revisit Brave New World , but it never achieved the same critical or commercial success.

Island (1962), another futuristic novel, was the last novel Huxley wrote before his death.

Shortly before his death, Huxley's home and most of his personal effects were destroyed in a devastating fire, leaving as Huxley said 'a man without possessions and without a past.'

Huxley died in California in 1963. Earlier that day, J F Kennedy was assassinated in Dallas. Author C S Lewis also died on that same fateful day, 22 November 1963.

In 1971, the ashes of Aldous Huxley were returned to England and interred in the family grave at the Watts Cemetry, Compton, near Guildford in Surrey.

Russian novelist Yevgeny Ivanovich Zamyatin (1884-1937) wrote We (1921), a chilling futuristic novel, which preceded both Brave New World and Nineteen Eighty-Four. The novel, like all the works of Yevgeny Ivanovich Zamyatin, was banned, and he was eventually exiled from Russia. He died in exile in Paris.

Literature ~ Surrey writers
(c) Keith Parkins 2007 -- December 2007 rev 0