Aldous Huxley Essay

1206 words - 5 pages

Aldous Huxley was born in Surrey, England on July 26, 1894 to an illustrious family deeply rooted in England's literary and scientific tradition. Huxley's father, Leonard Huxley, was the son of Thomas Henry Huxley, a well-known biologist who gained the nickname "Darwin's bulldog" for championing Charles Darwin's evolutionary ideas. His mother, Julia Arnold, was related to the important nineteenth-century poet and essayist Matthew Arnold.

Raised in this family of scientists, writers, and teachers (his father was a writer and teacher, and his mother a schoolmistress), Huxley received an excellent education, first at home, then at Eton, providing him with access to numerous fields ...view middle of the document...

Though these writings were skillful and gained Huxley an audience and literary name, they were generally considered to offer little depth beyond their lightweight criticisms of social manners. Huxley continued to write prolifically, working as an essayist and journalist, and publishing four volumes of poetry before beginning to work on novels. Without giving up his other writing, beginning in 1921, Huxley produced a series of novels at an astonishing rate: Crome Yellow was published in 1921, followed by Antic Hay in 1923, Those Barren Leaves in 1925, and Point Counter Point in 1928. During these years, Huxley left his early satires behind and became more interested in writing about subjects with deeper philosophical and ethical significance. Much of his work deals with the conflict between the interests of the individual and society, often focusing on the problem of self-realization within the context of social responsibility. These themes reached their zenith in Huxley's Brave New World, published in 1932. His most enduring work imagined a fictional future in which free will and individuality have been sacrificed in deference to complete social stability.

Brave New World marked a step in a new direction for Huxley, combining his skill for satire with his fascination with science to create a dystopian (anti-utopian) world in which a totalitarian government controlled society by the use of science and technology. Through its exploration of the pitfalls of linking science, technology, and politics, and its a6rgument that such a link will likely reduce human individuality, Brave New World deals with similar themes as George Orwell's famous novel 1984. Orwell wrote his novel in 1949, after the dangers of totalitarian governments had been played out to tragic effect in World War II, and during the great struggle of the Cold War and the arms race which so powerfully underlined the role of technology in the modern world. Huxley anticipated all of these developments. Hitler came to power in Germany a year after the publication of Brave New World. World War II broke out six years after. The atomic bomb was dropped thirteen years after its publication, initiating the Cold War and what President Eisenhower referred to as a frightening buildup of the "military-industrial complex." Huxley's novel seems, in many ways, to prophesize the major themes and struggles that dominated life and debate in the second half of the twentieth century, and continue to dominate it in the twenty-first.

After publishing Brave New World, Huxley continued to live in England, making frequent journeys to Italy. In 1937 Huxley moved to...

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