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:
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.
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.
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.
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
Huxley as the Author Wrote while at Oxford Published his first book of poems in 1916
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
Huxley’s Personal life (continued) Traveled around the world in 1925 and 1926 India United States think of the US in the 1920s
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[…]”
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."
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
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
1984 Written in 1948 tyranny, terror, and warfare Influenced by World War II West saw evils of Soviet totalitarianism
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
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.”
Huxley’s Message Wanted to fight the idea that happiness could be achieved through class- instituted slavery of even the most benevolent kind
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
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
Post World War II atomic bomb meant more death though still “rather rare,” sanity could be achieved Wanted to see more of it
Huxley and Social Sanity 1958: Brave New World Revisited essays on real-life problems and ideas in the novel overpopulation over organization
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
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
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
Huxley’s Drug-Influenced Books Island (1962) 20 years of thought five years to write antidote to Brave New World a “good” Utopia
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.
Huxley’s Credits (continued) 1959: Award of Merit for the Novel given every five years earlier recipients Ernest Hemingway Thomas Mann Theodore Dreiser
Huxley’s Influences Greek history Polynesian anthropology Sanskrit texts Buddhist texts Scientific papers on pharmacology