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Aldous Huxley’s Life and Times  Aldous Leonard Huxley was born on July 26, 1894, into a family that included some of the most distinguished members of.

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Presentation on theme: "Aldous Huxley’s Life and Times  Aldous Leonard Huxley was born on July 26, 1894, into a family that included some of the most distinguished members of."— Presentation transcript:

1 Aldous Huxley’s Life and Times  Aldous Leonard Huxley was born on July 26, 1894, into a family that included some of the most distinguished members of that part of the English ruling class made up of the intellectual elite. Aldous' father was the son of Thomas Henry Huxley, a great biologist who helped develop the theory of evolution. His mother was the sister of Mrs. Humphrey Ward, the novelist; the niece of Matthew Arnold, the poet; and the granddaughter of Thomas Arnold, a famous educator and the real-life headmaster of Rugby School who became a character in the novel Tom Brown's Schooldays.

2 Huxley’s Heritage and Upbringing  Undoubtedly, Huxley's heritage and upbringing had an effect on his work. Gerald Heard, a longtime friend, said that Huxley's ancestry "brought down on him a weight of intellectual authority and a momentum of moral obligations." Throughout Brave New World you can see evidence of an ambivalent attitude toward such authority assumed by a ruling class.

3 Huxley’s Utopia  Like the England of his day, Huxley's Utopia possesses a rigid class structure, one even stronger than England's because it is biologically and chemically engineered and psychologically conditioned. And the members of Brave New World's ruling class certainly believe they possess the right to make everyone happy by denying them love and freedom.

4 Aldous Huxley’s Life and Times  Born: July 26, 1894  English ruling class and intellectual elite  Father:  Thomas Henry Huxley  biologist who helped develop the theory of evolution

5 Huxley’s Life and Times (continued)  Mother:  sister was a novelist  uncle was a poet  grandfather was a famous educator  headmaster of Rugby School  character in the novel Tom Brown's Schooldays

6 Huxley’s Heritage and Upbringing  Effected his work  “[Had] a weight of intellectual authority[...]”  resented his upbringing  In Brave New World :  ambivalent attitude toward the ruling class

7 Huxley’s Utopia  A rigid class structure  stronger than England's  Brave New World's ruling class:  right to make everyone happy  people denied love and freedom

8 Huxley’s Experiences  Apart from his social class  “different” as a child  alert and intelligent  had a superiority  not sports-oriented  Respected and loved for these abilities

9 Huxley’s Experiences (continued)  Separateness apparent in Brave New World  two characters of the elite class have problems because they're different from their peers  Heredity made each individual unique  uniqueness of the individual was essential to freedom

10 Huxley’s Experiences (continued)  Mother died from cancer when he was 14  loss apparent in Brave New World  Utopians want to deny the unpleasantness of death  constant happiness  high cost

11 Huxley’s Experiences (continued)  Eye illness  nearly blind at 16  Oxford University  graduated with honors  Too blind to fight in World War I  missed an important experience  friends went to war  Loved science  too blind to be a scientist

12 Huxley’s Experiences (continued)  Science in many of his books  Brave New World  Vision remained important to him  saw well enough to read and write, but not much else

13 Huxley as the Author  Wrote while at Oxford  Published his first book of poems in 1916

14 Huxley’s Personal life  1919: Married Maria Nys, a Belgian  Child: Matthew Huxley: born in 1920  Divided time between London and Europe  Italy, in the 1920s

15 Huxley’s Personal life (continued)  Traveled around the world in 1925 and 1926  India  United States  think of the US in the 1920s

16 Huxley’s Opinions of the U.S.  Liked the confidence, vitality, and "generous extravagance"  Disapproved of the way vitality was expressed "in places of public amusement, in dancing and motoring[…]”

17 Huxley’s Opinions of the U.S. (continued)  “Nowhere, perhaps, is there so little conversation[…]”  “[…]It is all movement and noise, like the water gurgling out of a bath—down the waste. Yes, down the waste."

18 Huxley’s Dystopia  Fascist Italy:  Benito Mussolini: authoritarian government  fought against birth control in order to produce enough manpower for the next war  materials for Huxley's dystopia  Read books critical of the Soviet Union  added to his ideas of dystopia

19 Brave New World  Wrote Brave New World in four months in 1931  describes a dystopia  Compared with George Orwell's 1984 (1949)  describes a dystopia

20 1984  Written in 1948  tyranny, terror, and warfare  Influenced by World War II  West saw evils of Soviet totalitarianism

21 Brave New World (continued)  Written in 1931  before Adolf Hitler came to power in Germany  before Joseph Stalin killed millions of people in the Soviet Union  No real-life examples to make tyranny and terror major elements of his story

22 Brave New World (continued)  1958:  Huxley said, “The future dictatorship of my imaginary world was a good deal less brutal than the future dictatorship so brilliantly portrayed by Orwell.”

23 Huxley’s Message  Wanted to fight the idea that happiness could be achieved through class- instituted slavery of even the most benevolent kind

24 Huxley’s Personal life (continued)  1937:  came to the United States  1938:  Hollywood screenwriter  1946: Foreword to Brave New World  no longer wanted to see “social sanity” as an impossibility

25 Post World War II  1946: Foreword (continued)  World War II: 20 million people of the Soviet Union dead  six million Jews dead  five million Catholics, Gypsies, homosexuals, and mentally-ill dead

26 Post World War II  atomic bomb meant more death  though still “rather rare,” sanity could be achieved  Wanted to see more of it

27 Huxley and Social Sanity  1958: Brave New World Revisited  essays on real-life problems and ideas in the novel  overpopulation  over organization

28 1958: Brave New World Revisited (continued)  psychological techniques  salesmanship  hypnopaedia, or sleep-teaching  all tools that a government can abuse to take people’s freedom

29 Huxley’s Personal life (1950s)  Interested in mind-expanding drugs:  mescaline  LSD  taken a dozen times over ten years  Escape from the self  Drugs: physically and socially harmless  if used correctly

30 Huxley’s Drug-Influenced Books  Non-fiction  Experiences with mescaline:  Doors of Perception (1954)  Heaven and Hell (1956)  People influenced by these books  warned of the dangers of such experiments

31 Huxley’s Drug-Influenced Books  Island (1962)  20 years of thought  five years to write  antidote to Brave New World  a “good” Utopia

32 Huxley’s Credits  47 books  Some critics: he was a better essayist than novelist  more about his ideas than about plot or characters  novels' ideas often get in the way of the story.

33 Huxley’s Credits (continued)  1959: Award of Merit for the Novel  given every five years  earlier recipients  Ernest Hemingway  Thomas Mann  Theodore Dreiser

34 Huxley’s Influences  Greek history  Polynesian anthropology  Sanskrit texts  Buddhist texts  Scientific papers on pharmacology

35 Huxley’s Influences (continued)  neurophysiology  Psychology and education  novels  poems  critical essays  travel books  political commentaries

36 Huxley’s Influences (continued)  conversations with all kinds of people  philosophers  actresses  mentally ill in hospitals  tycoons in Rolls-Royces

37 Other Huxley Facts  Early essay on ecology inspired today's environmental movement  Pacifist  never allowed to become an American citizen

38 Other Huxley Facts (continued)  wouldn’t say his pacifism was a matter of his religion  might have made him an acceptable conscientious objector

39 The Last Slide  Remained nearly blind all his life  Wife died in 1955  1956: married another  Died 11-22-63  Same as JFK  Ashes in parents' grave in England

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