Aldous Huxley wrote extensively in a half dozen genres, making a name as a literary virtuoso.
His 1936 bestseller, Eyeless in Gaza, is a literary novel by a literary man. The book’s chapters are dated; readers have to figure out the sequence of events from the dates.
Eyeless in Gaza by Aldous Huxley
Chatto & Windus, 1936; 620 pp. 1936 bestseller # 10. My Grade: D+.
The novel’s focus is the emotionally homeless Anthony Beavis.
The boy’s mother dies when Anthony is a lad at boarding school; he has no affection for his eccentric father.
Anthony grows up to become a professional social scientist, a moral midget interested in life as a spectator sport.
Anthony has repeated chances to behave ethically and ignores every one of them.
He has affairs with a woman and her two daughters.
He’s indirectly responsible for the suicide of his best friend.
The story ends with Anthony fearlessly going off to face a hostile audience at a political rally.
The title suggests Huxley intends readers to see Anthony as a second Sampson, ending his life in one redeeming dramatic gesture when he gains spiritual insight.
Nothing in the novel makes that seem plausible.
Huxley doesn’t tell us what happens at the rally, but whatever tomatoes are thrown at Anthony are no less than the rotter deserves.
And the same could be said of Huxley’s novel.
©2016 Linda Gorton Aragoni