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Last year was Huxley year with Clark's family retrospective and Mrs. Laura Huxley's touching record of her husband's last years. This interesting three-volume collection of letters (from 1900 to 1963), with only the most essential annotation and an immensely helpful chronological table, is undoubtedly the most valuable key to the paradoxical, ""multivalent"" personality of the late novelist-philosopher. Like his grandfather Thomas and his brother Julian, Aldous Huxley was strongly drawn to rational inquiry, to humanistic concerns, and yet he seems to have been haunted by the irrational brutality of existence. The tragic suicide of his brother Trev in 1914, the world wars, and what seemed to him the headlong course of the world toward disaster, gave rise to a mysticism to which he admittedly was prone even in his student days. A year after the death of his brother he wrote: ""I think we shall ultimately work all the disorder into a single principle, which will be an Absolute--but which at present exists only potentially and at the nature of which we can only dimly guess."" The early letters, affectionate, witty, dwelling on the ""superficial undulations"" of a society he later denied, are spirited and delightful, particularly his wicked tilts at literary luminaries (the Sitwells, ""each of them larger and whiter than the other""; Orlando--""the most highly exhausted vacuum I have ever known""). The later years are mainly concerned with his search; as in the last lines of Time Must Have A Stop Huxley in effect, turned off the radio, and decided to ""listen to something else."" Point counterpoint of a consciousness hovering near, but never really reaching, resolution.

Publisher: Harper & Row