Huxley, Aldous Leonard

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.

Huxley, Aldous Leonard

Aldous Leonard Huxley, 1894–1963, English author; grandson of Thomas Henry Huxley, brother of Sir Julian Huxley, and half-brother of Sir Andrew Huxley. Educated at Eton and Oxford, he traveled widely and during the 1920s lived in Italy. He came to the United States in the 1937 and settled in California. On the verge of blindness from the time he was 16, Huxley devoted much time and energy in an effort to improve his vision. He began his literary career writing critical essays and symbolist poetry, but he soon turned to the novel. Crome Yellow (1921), Antic Hay (1923), Those Barren Leaves (1925), and Point Counter Point (1928) are brittle, skeptical pictures of a decadent society. Brave New World (1932), the most popular of his novels, presents a nightmarish, dystopian civilization in the 25th cent. It was followed by Eyeless in Gaza (1936), After Many a Summer Dies the Swan (1939), Ape and Essence (1948), The Devils of Loudon (1952), and The Genius and the Goddess (1955). Marked by an exuberance of ideas and comic invention, his novels reflect, with increasing cynicism, his disgust and disillusionment with the modern world. His later writings, however, reveal a strong interest in mysticism and Eastern philosophy. His fascination with mind-expansion and experimentation with LSD prompted the writing of The Doors of Perception (1954), a long essay extremely popular in the drug-oriented 1960s and still one of his most-read books. Huxley's other works include collections of short stories, of which Mortal Coils (1922) is representative, and essays, including End and Means (1937) and Brave New World Revisited (1958).

See R. S. Baker and J. Sexton, ed., Complete Essays (6 vol., 2000–2002); memoir by his wife, L. A. Huxley (1968); J. Sexton, ed., Aldous Huxley: Selected Letters (2007); biographies by S. Bedford (2 vol., 1973–74), G. A. Nance (1989), and N. Murray (2003); studies by P. Thody (1973), K. M. May (1973), G. Cockshott (1980), P. E. Firchow (1984), and M. Schubert (1986); R. W. Clark, The Huxleys (1968).

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