Aldous huxley the 20th century prophet

He graduated from Balliol College, Oxfordwith a first in English literature. He was best known for his novels including Brave New Worldset in a dystopian London; for non-fiction books, such as The Doors of Perceptionwhich recalls experiences when taking a psychedelic drug ; and a wide-ranging output of essays.

Aldous huxley the 20th century prophet

Even his casual asides have a surprising relevance to our own times. During the first world war, after America's entry, he warned: Europe will no longer be Europe.

The worst fate for a prophet is for his predictions to come true, when everyone resents him for being so clear-eyed. Huxley's greatest novel, Brave New Worldis a far shrewder guess at the likely shape of a future tyranny than Orwell's vision of Stalinist terror in Nineteen Eighty-Four.

Huxley's dystopia, with its test-tube babies and recreational drugs, its "feelies" that anticipate virtual reality, differs in one vital way from Orwell's vision of a boot stamping for ever on a human face. Huxley's victims welcome their own enslavement, revealing the same strains of passivity that lie beneath today's entertainment culture.

For all his prescience, Huxley's star has dimmed since his death inon the same day that John F Kennedy was shot. The president's assassination overshadowed everything else on that grimmest of November days.

A random psychotic act had endangered the world and refuted Huxley's vision of a sane and calculating tyranny. A single deranged man with a mail-order rifle was a more sinister threat than Big Brother, whether in jackboots or a white lab coat.

Early life

Another factor in Huxley's decline was his close association with the Bloomsbury Group, that bloodless set who haunt English letters like a coterie of haemophiliac royals. Huxley's novels of the s, from Antic Hay to Point Counter Pointwere ruthlessly witty satires on the middle class of his day, but have rather lost their sting in the far weirder era of Iris and Delia.

But as Nicholas Murray makes clear in his generous and intelligent biography, Huxley soon escaped the Bloomsburies. He had far deeper roots in the Victorian age, with a rich mix of high- mindedness and a secure moral compass that we find baffling in our culture of soundbite philosophy and focus-group wisdom.

In many ways, Huxley was the last of the great Victorian novelists. He was born ina grandson of the biologist T H Huxley, "Darwin's bulldog". Matthew Arnold was his great-uncle, and his aunt was the novelist Mrs Humphry Ward.

Secure in this intellectual aristocracy, he might have rebelled and become a great mid-century English eccentric, a liberally minded chairman of the board of film censors, or the first openly agnostic Archbishop of Canterbury. However, at the age of 16, while an Eton schoolboy, he caught a serious eye infection that left him blind for a year and may have forced him into a more interior vision of himself.

With his one good eye, he read English at Oxford, perhaps the best perspective to take on this dubious subject. He was immensely tall, six feet four-and-a-half inches.

Christopher Isherwood said that he was "too tall. I felt an enormous zoological separation from him. The young Huxley must have had immense charm. Years later, in the south of France, Lawrence died in the arms of Huxley's wife.

In the final minutes before his death, Lawrence suddenly panicked and cried out to Maria Huxley, begging her to keep him alive.

Aldous huxley the 20th century prophet

She embraced him, and he died peacefully as her husband watched. Maria was a wartime Belgian refugee whom Huxley met at Garsington and married in Murray describes their marriage as intensely close and happy, although Maria was an active bisexual.

Aldous huxley the 20th century prophet

Huxley seems to have taken quickly to their special version of open marriage. They pursued the same lovers together, like a pair of sexual confidence tricksters: Maria encouraging Aldous, introducing him to the beautiful women he admired, preparing the amatory ground and saving him the fatigue of prolonged courtship.

Jealousy and possessiveness, which so handicap the rest of us, seemed never to have touched Huxley, an emotional deficit that some readers have noticed in his novels. In the late s, when they moved to Los Angeles, Maria became a member of the "sewing circle", a club of prominent Hollywood lesbians reputed to include Marlene Dietrich and Greta Garbo.

Huxley's first novel, Crome Yellowwas a success, and he signed what Murray rightly terms a "momentous" agreement with his publishers. Even inflated fold, the sums were modest by today's standards - we have huge advances and huge reputations, but small novels, though that may no longer be relevant.

Despite the large sales of Brave New Worldthe Huxleys were never rich, and inwhen they sailed for America on the Normandie, they travelled tourist.Jun 23,  · Aldous Huxley, one of the great modern thinkers, philosophers, and social commentators of the 20th century, is often hailed as an inspirational figure of the.

According to his biographer, Nicholas Murray, in Aldous Huxley: An English Intellectual (), Aldous was a "like an 18th-century philosophe, a modern Voltaire", a "prophet".

Born in Surrey in , Aldous later moved to California with his wife Maria and their son Matthew, where he dabbled in writing screenplays and wrote a bestseller, The Art of Seeing (), about his attempts to improve his eyesight. Author and screenwriter Aldous Huxley is best known for his novel 'Brave New World,' a nightmarish vision of the future.

Synopsis Aldous Huxley was born into a prominent intellectual family in Godalming, England, in Born: Jul 26, Aldous Huxley established himself as one of the most influential literary figures of the 20th century. Spearheading the dystopian genre with his classic novel Brave New World, this author’s bleak vision of the future left a permanent mark on an entire generation, including his one-time pupil, George Orwell.

Indeed, Huxley became of the great essayists of the 20th century (a fact underscored by the completion of an ambitious project by Ivan R.

Dee Publishers: a six-volume edition titled Aldous Huxley: Complete Essays, completed last year)/5(2). Aldous Huxley, as a writer of fiction in the 20th century, willingly assumes the role of a modern philosopher-king or literary prophet by examining the essence of .

Review: Aldous Huxley: An English Intellectual by Nicholas Murray | Books | The Guardian