Thursday, July 26, 2012

Aldous Huxley wrote Brave New World

Aldous Huxley
It is the birthday of English writer Aldous Huxley (1894), whose science fiction novel Brave New World (1932) is considered among the best English-language novels of the 20th century.

The book predicted the loss of individual identity in a world of mass production. Huxley wrote it partly as a parody of H.G. Wells' A Modern Utopia (1905) and his Men Like Gods (1923), books that presented an upbeat vision of the future. Huxley took a dim view of what was to come. When it was published, Brave New World was widely panned by critics but has since come into favor in literary circles.

Huxley came from a family of overachievers. His father was an educator and writer. His grandfather was a prominent biologist and such a staunch advocate of Charles Darwin's theory of evolution that he earned the appellation "Darwin's Bulldog." His brother and half brother were also biologists.

Huxley first trained in his father's botanical lab and was taught by his mother until she died. Then he went to Eton College and later Oxford. He was exempted from military duty during World War I because of an illness that left him mostly blind, though in later years he recovered most of his eyesight.

He taught French at Eton for a year and proved to be a terrible teacher, unable to maintain discipline in his classes. Among his students was Eric Blair, who later became George Orwell. He eventually started writing and wrote several novels and many magazine articles. He was a regular contributor to Vanity Fair.

Huxley moved to Hollywood in 1937 and lived there until his death in 1963, though he lived for a brief time in Taos, New Mexico. He wrote Ends and Means (1937), a collection of essays on ethics, nationalism, religion, and war. He was a vocal pacifist.

 He tried writing for the movies, completing a screenplay for Madame Curie for MGM and contributing to the studio's 1940 version of Pride and Prejudice. He also worked on the 1943 production of Jane Eyre for 20th Century Fox. But his leisurely style didn't fit energetic Hollywood.

He later became interested in spiritualism and psychedelic drugs. He became associated with Swami Prabhavananda in Hollywood and became active with the Vedanta Society of Southern California. He wrote extensively for the organization.

Huxley died on the same day that John F. Kennedy was assassinated. Author C.S. Lewis also died that day. Christian theology writer Peter Kreeft was inspired by those events to write the novel Between Heaven and Hell: A Dialog Somewhere Beyond Death with John F. Kennedy, C.S. Lewis, and Aldous Huxley (1982), in which the three men discuss Jesus from different points of view.

Brave New World was adapted as a TV movie in 1998.

1 comment:

  1. Huxley is turning in his grave nearly 100 years after his visionary prophecies began to form into his own mode of fiction. He is one of my favorite authors and raised serious issues and made world-wide breakthroughs in the research of psychedelics as well as our cognitive liberties. I drew a portrait as homage to the man and his works. See the him roll with the mushrooms, the pills and the doors of perception at http://dregstudiosart.blogspot.com/2010/07/aldous-huxley-rolls-in-his-grave.html

    ReplyDelete

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