Antic Hay by Aldous Huxley

Antic Hay by Aldous HuxleyThe second of Huxley’s novels, and like Chrome Yellow, his first, a terribly clever satire of those who populated the upper classes with who Huxley mixed.

This review from Good Reads (http://www.goodreads.com/review/show/28242037) is a little harsh, but gives the essential idea:

“One senses that Huxley was aiming for a little mordant social satire when he wrote this book, to capture the Zeitgeist while landing a few deft jabs at British society in the aftermath of World War I. But “Antic Hay” is a clunky, sorry mess, whose primary virtue is its brevity. Heavyhanded and confused, it never gels to anything even remotely memorable.

Not too hard to figure out why. There is no discernible plot – instead, various stock characters are dragged in and out of the action, essentially caroming off one another in a fairly random fashion. You’ve got your artist, your poet, your critic, your (pseudo)-scientist, your futurist, your lowlife, your romantic, a vamp, and a flapper or two, and the (anti)hero Gumbril, who is spectacularly devoid of personality. None of these characters is fleshed out in any credible way – they just engage in brittly clever dialog (which is to say, lethally boring dialog), mouthpieces for whatever point of view they are supposed to be representing. While the reader is left baffled as to what the hell Huxley might be trying to convey.

I think the answer is that Huxley doesn’t really have anything much coherent to say, in this dull and annoying book. Since there’s no plot to speak of, eventually it just sort of peters out.

So another writer who disappoints for reasons related to one of my pet peeves – a complete abrogation of the author’s responsibility to tell the reader a story. You’ll get fresher insights on this particular milieu by reading a couple of Agatha Christie’s mysteries, and I dare say you’ll have more fun doing so as well.”

Not as good as Chrome Yellow. Weird that this is the author of the novels that follow.

 

Mr A

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