Books by Aldous Huxley

Released: March 1, 2011

Huxley's story, his only children's book and not meant for widespread publication, starts good and grim—just the thing to hold a young audience. Mrs. Crow's eggs are mysteriously disappearing: 297 eggs a year, "a fresh egg every single day—except Sundays, of course, and public holidays." The culprit is a rattlesnake that lives in a hole under her tree. "I'm having breakfast," he explains with sinister meaning when she finally catches him in the act. Mrs. Crow suggests to Mr. Crow that he go down the hole and kill the snake. Mr. Crow demurs: "Your ideas are seldom good" (yes, touches of rudeness are sprinkled throughout). He consults the wise owl, who concocts a shrewd plan—without Mr. Crow's input; "keep your beak shut and do exactly what I do," spoken in a high tone—to fashion clay decoy eggs. The snake eats them, dies (after a lecture from Mrs. Crow) and is subsequently used as a clothesline for diapers. Though the book is handsomely designed, Blackall's artwork, accomplished as it is, isn't a snug fit. She captures the menace of the snake, but the crows are a different matter, with their dead, sharklike eyes, silly clothes and strange wings resembling spruce bows. Hair curlers hardly embody the shrew in Mrs. Crow, and Mr. Crow's martini is just trivial. The story, however, is a powerful hymn to smarts, with unrepentant scorn for the greedy and the witless. (Picture book. 4-8)Read full book review >
COMPLETE ESSAYS by Aldous Huxley
Released: June 22, 2001

"For serious fans only."
The third of a projected six-volume set of Huxley's essays. Read full book review >
JACOB'S HANDS by Aldous Huxley
Released: Sept. 8, 1998

A literary curiosity. While resident in Hollywood in the 1940s, the acerbic British novelist Aldous Huxley and the playwright Christopher Isherwood collaborated on two screenplays. Though the actual screenplay of "Jacob's Hands," the tale of a naive faith healer in the 1920s, apparently no longer exists, a narrative treatment of it was recently located among Huxley's remaining papers and is now being published. While elements of the tale are clearly reminiscent of these writers (Huxley's bemused fascination with America's pursuit of fame and fortune; Isherwood's deep interest in spirituality), the prose is at best workmanlike. That isn't surprising—this draft was likely meant for private circulation, not publication. The story focuses on Jacob, a traumatized veteran of WWI who has fled to the Mojave Desert for solitude, but is discovered to carry an uncanny ability to heal in his hands—as well as a gift for sensing the true state of someone's spirit. Used to practicing his gift on animals, he reluctantly agrees to try to help Sharon, a young crippled woman. He succeeds, becomes infatuated with her, and follows her to Los Angeles, where she has gone determined to become a star. Not surprisingly, Jacob is discovered by a huckster who uses the healer's love for Sharon (who has become a cynical, opportunistic entertainer) to turn him into a saleable commodity. Romantic complications and betrayals follow, and Jacob eventually flees back to the desert. It's hard not to imagine the film while reading this spare narrative, but equally hard to find much pleasure in the prose. A minor, if intriguing, footnote to two impressive careers. Read full book review >
BETWEEN THE WARS by Aldous Huxley
Released: July 15, 1994

In time for the centennial of Huxley's birth, a journalistic miscellany—of pieces delivered over the radio, at the podium, and in magazines and newspapers—from the same period as Brave New World (1932). In addition to a voracious intellect, Huxley possessed a talent for inhabiting the Zeitgeist. In the pessimistic 1930s he became increasingly concerned with the issues of his times, such as mass society and political instability. This transitional period fell between his early career in the English country-house literary circles he satirized in Crome Yellow (1921) and his later status as expatriate mescaline mystic in California, where he wrote The Doors of Perception (1954). In this era in England and Italy he wrote the pieces collected here for the first time. The ideas in flux are the same as those he played with in Brave New World or earnestly advocated in his semi-mystic political tract, Ends and Means (1937). Huxley's early fascination with Pavlovian conditioning, Communist industrial planning, Fascist social order, and eugenics emerge in disquieting relief but are counterpointed with his later punditry for economic reform, pacifism, and sociological realignment. All these pieces were intended for immediate consumption, however, and seem more dated than his novels and serious essays. Still, his keen perception comes through with the unique immediacy of journalism, whether describing mines in northern England or four dull hours listening to Parliamentary speeches, and his polymathic wit entertainingly skewers fraudulent industrialists and fascist potentates alike. Editor Bradshaw, who is writing a biography of Huxley, includes his own essays on the influences on Huxley's work of H.L. Mencken's social satire and of H.G. Wells's political ideology. This idiosyncratic pendant to his major works reveals Huxley in a phase state between his more familiar roles. Read full book review >
Released: Jan. 1, 1954

A personal, and expectedly individualistic, description of his experiment with the drug mescalin, which induces a state of pleasant, mild intoxication- and opens the doors of perception. Believing that modern man, enmeshed in his own ego and vulgar environment, needs an occasional escape- he recommends mescalin as a pleasanter and less harmful indulgence than alcohol or narcotics- or yogi. In this recommendation, he also pursues his latest ideas about art, music, philosophy, modern life and mysticism. And one of his most original ideas is that the human brain is a sort of valve which repels all the sensations, radiations and perceptions which are at large in the universe so that the individual will not be overwhelmed by these magnitudes and magnificences. On the other hand, the valve must be bypassed occasionally, so that the individual may have a glimpse of wider perspectives than his five senses ordinarily afford- and mescalin is the medium to be used. All this cannot be taken too seriously- but it makes amusing reading as well as a controversial commentary on current intellectual preoccupations. His addicts, but not in full strength, will provide the market. Read full book review >