THEMES AND VARIATIONS by Aldous Huxley

THEMES AND VARIATIONS

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KIRKUS REVIEW

This uneven collection of variations on Huxley en ascendant into a muddled, quietistic mysticism superficially at least covers a wide range. There's a monograph on the 18th century philosopher, Maine de Biran; the art of the baroque and rococo religious art of Rome and Spain; the art of El Greco, Piranesi and Goya in relation to the art-death theme; a discussion of problems of world peace in terms of population and food. Despite the range, Huxely does not move from his tight little corner. The expansion of Biran's existentialism (which Huxley defines as affirmation of the incarnate ""I"") into a plea of individual freedom from a ""sub-human"" state, the re-statement of the isolation of this self, with self-knowledge as a blind alley cob-webbed by psycho-physiological demands, and an obsession with purely personal experience, again seem to contribute to the negativism and pseudo-mysticism of his Time Must Have a Stop. However, the reader will find that Huxley's thought-conjuring has a vibrant fascination, while in style, these essays have the same brilliance of phrase and virtuosity of wit that have always characterized his writings. His attempts to clarify a world economic problem seem rather stumbling, but in the main this latest Huxley deserves consideration for its facile prose and scholarship.

Pub Date: April 21st, 1950
Publisher: Harper