“Antic Hay” by Aldous Huxley


Huxley has adroitly mocked every aspect of London society- fake artists, pretentious characters, lofty bohemian society, capricious capitalists (pneumatic trousers) and hollow advertising industry etc but his second book however lacks the strong style of writing that makes Huxley’s “Brave New World” so unique.

I most love the part of the book where the protagonist Theodore Gumbril dons a beard and transforms into a “Complete Man” with utmost confidence to woo any woman and negotiate any deal. It became imperative also for the women approached by the Complete Man to act ladylike and fastidious.

It reminded me of the short story “Captain Patch” by T.F. Powys that I had read as a part of the CBSE syllabus at school. In that story also a tailor dons a Captain’s uniform and pretends to be a Captain and goes about telling fabricated stories. He ends up falling in love and marrying Miss Straw who is also a housemaid pretending to be a lady: the unique world of pretenses.

Quotes from the book:

“There’s no liberty in the world, only gilded cages.”

“It was as though the man had to shout to convince himself of his own existence.”

“The desire is like rust corroding my heart, its like moth eating holes in the fabric of my mind.”

“Foreheads are the human part of people’s faces. Let the nose twitch and the mouth grin and the eyes twinkle as monkeyish as you like; the forehead can still be calm and serene, the forehead still knows how to be human. But when Casimir laughed, his forehead joined in the general disintegrating grimace.”

“Sometimes he hated; but that was only when familiarity had not yet bred love.”

“Grief doesn’t kill, love doesn’t kill, but time kills everything.”

 

I love Huxley’s description of Myra Viveash:

“always on the point of expiring, as though each word were the last, uttered faintly and breakingly from a death-bed- the last, with all the profound and nameless significance of the ultimate word”.

“Her eyes had a formidable capacity for looking and expressing nothing; they were like the pale blue eyes which peer out of the Siamese cat’s black velvet mask.”

An interesting analogy was:

“At this moment we are walking through (London) the midst of seven million distinct and separate individuals, each with distinct and separate lives and all completely indifferent to our existence….And they are all alive, all unique and separate and sensitive, like you and me.” (Page 60)

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A dreamer. An intellectual, spoiled by the world of literature trying to find sanity through traveling and expression through Visual Art and writing! Hope you like my expressions on this blog!!

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