After Many a Summer Dies the Swan by Aldous Huxley

Category: Aldous Huxley
Last Updated: 07 Dec 2022
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Aldous Huxley was an English fiction and non-fiction writer, novelist and critic. Besides novels he published travel books, histories, poems, plays, and essays on philosophy, arts, sociology, religion and morāls He was a humanist, pacifist and satirist. He was interested in spiritual subjects as parapsychology and philosophical mysticism. His lifelong preoccupation with the negative and positive impacts of science and technology life makes him one of the representative writers and intellectuals of the 20th-century. Aldous Leonard Huxley was born on 26 of July in 1894, in Godalming, Surrey, England. His family was a part of English intellectual elite.

Aldous’ grandfather was the great biologist, agnostic and controversialist Thomas Henry Huxley, who helped develop the theory of evolution. His mother was sister of Mrs. Humphrey Ward, the novelist and niece of Matthew Arnold, the poet. He had three brothers, two of them – Julian Huxley and Andrew Huxley were outstanding biologists. His third brother Noel Trevelyan Huxley committed suicide after a period of clinical depression. Huxley’s heritage and upbringing had an effect on his work. He attended Hillside school, after that he was educated at Eton College, Berkshire, and after his eyesight recovered (he had keratitis punctata which left him practically blind for two years, but it also saved him from participation in the World War I), he was able to study English literature at Balliol College, Oxford.

Already then he entered the literary world while he was at Oxford, meeting writers like Lytton Strachey and Bertrand Russell and becoming close friends with D. H. Lawrence After graduation he was financially indebted to his father, that’s why he became a French teacher, but he couldn’t keep discipline. He worked also at Air Ministry and Brunner and Mond chemical plant in Billingham. In 1920-21 he worked as a drama critic for Westminster Gazette and an assistant at the Chelsea Book Club and the Condé Nast Publications. He married Maria Nys in 1919.

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Their only child, Matthew Huxley, was born in 1920. The family divided their time between London and Europe, mostly Italy and France, in the 1920s, and traveled around the world in 1925 and 1926, seeing India and making a first visit to the United States. He moved in 1937 with the guru-figure Gerald Heard to the United States, believing that the Californian climate would help his eyesight, which caused him problems all the time. A year later he with his family moved to Hollywood, where he became a screenwriter (among his films were also adaptations of Jane Austen and Pride and Prejudice).

In the 1950s Huxley became famous for his interest in psychedelic or mind-expanding drugs like mescaline and LSD, which he apparently took a dozen times over ten years. In 1955died his wife Maria Huxley, and a year later hemarried Laura Archera. He died November 22, 1963, the same day that President John F. Kennedy was assassinated. He was cremated, and his ashes were buried in his parents' grave in England. In 1961 he suffered a severe loss when his house and his papers were totally destroyed in a bush-fire. On his deathbed, unable to speak, Huxley made a written request to his wife Laura for "LSD, 100 µg, intramuscular". Huxley died aged 69, on 22 of November, in 1963.

Media coverage of Huxley's passing was overshadowed by the assassination of President John F. Kennedy and the death of the British author C. S. Lewis, alln on the same day. Huxley's ashes were interred in the family grave at the Watts Cemetery, home of the Watts Mortuary Chapel in Compton, England. Aldous Huxley produced 47 books in his long career as a writer. His most famous novels are Brand New World, Eyeless in Gaza, Ape and Essence, Island and After Many a Summer dies the Swan.The English critic Anthony Burgess has said that he equipped the novel with a brain. Other critics objected that he was a better essayist than novelist precisely because he cared more about his ideas than about plot or characters, and his novels' ideas often get in the way of the story.

Novel After Many a Smmer Dies the Swan was written in 1939. Aldous had lived and worked in California for a year, so this satirical novel caricatures what he had seen as a strange life there. The novel won Huxley that year's James Tait Black Memorial Prize for fiction. In 1959 the American Academy of Arts and Letters gave him the Award of Merit for the Novel, a prize given every five years; earlier recipients had been Ernest Hemingway, Thomas Mann, and Theodore Dreiser. I need to confess, that I had never heard of this author and his novel before. In search of it, I decided that I want to read a work in original languageband because it is also a language course, I wanted to find something in English, that I haven’t heard about, that I don’t have an opinion about. Something that can challenge me.

In spite that this author’s most famous novel is Brand New World, I chosed After Many a Summer Dies the Swan, because this title intrigued me. I must say, that I don’t feel disappointed after reading this novel and I found very much quotations which made me to THINK more about THINGS. The action in this novel revolves around characters which are brought together by a Hollywood millionaire Jo Stoyte, who is in his sixities, after strokes and conscious of his mortality. In order to keep an eye on him and cure him, he has hired Dr. Sigmund Obispo, which is interested in researching the secrets of longlivity and no idications of obsolescence in animals, and his assistant Peter Boone.

Mr. Stoyte is supporting Dr. Obispos’ research. Mr. Jeremy Pordage is an English archivist and literature expert, who is brought by Mr. Stoyte from England in order to archive a rare collection of books. Mr. Pordage's presence highlights Mr. Stoyte's shallow attitude towards the precious works of art, that he can afford himself. Virginia Mounciple is Mr. Stoyte’s twenty-two year old mistress, who gives pleasure to the old man, secretly likes Dr. Obispo, and who’s young assistant Peter is in love with. Mr. Propter is Jo Stoyte’s neighbour, who is only one of the characters who achieves success and happiness, without upsetting anyone ar creating evil. All these characters have different life philosophies.

Dr. Obispo places great faith in science and medicine as saviours of humankind. He sees everyone as a stepping stone to science, the greater good. According to Propter's philosophy, he is trapped in ego-based "human" behaviour that prevents him from reaching enlightenment. Dr. Obispo seduces Virginia in a characteristically egotistical way. She is unable to resist him despite her loyalty to Mr. Stoyte. When she is found out by Stoyte, he wants to kill Dr. Obispo, but accidentally kills Peter instead. Dr. Obispo covers up the act for money and continued research support. This takes him, along with Virginia and Stoyte, to Europe, where they find an immortal human, the Fifth Earl of Gonister, who is 200 years old and still alive, but who now resembles an ape.

Mr. Stoyte can not grasp that transcendence or goodness should be one's ultimate goal, rather than prevention of death, and expresses his wish to undergo treatment so that he too will live forever. The story works scientific knowledge into a more traditional form of narrative. The evolutionary principle of neoteny has been invoked to explain the origin of human characteristics from ape ancestors. The storyline suggests that, if we lived longer, we would continue to develop along the path of an ape and eventually become ape-like.

The story has been interpreted as the British Huxley's contemptuous nod to the Hearstian reality of the United States in the early part of the twentieth century: Jo Stoyte is an allegory for William Randolph Hearst by his acquisitions of art and living in an opulent estate - similar to Hearst Castle - with Virginia, who can be taken as a parody of Marion Davies. This novel has been adapted in theatre, cinema and radio. NBC University Theater radio made adaptation on 12 of December in 1948, starring Paul Henry and Alan Hale, Sr., with intermission commentary by Norman Cousins. In 1967 UK released 45- minute T movie - After Many a Summer, directed by Douglas Camfield.

It’s story tells about an American millionaire who is searching for a magic potion, that will grant him eternal life. In early 2000 the Baryshnikov Dance Foundation commissioned a 35-minute dance for the White Oak Dance Project called After Many a Summer Dies the Swan. The book is mentioned in the novella and film A Single Man (2009), when George Falconer (Colin Firth) who is an English professor, one year after the sudden death of his boyfriend, who is unable to cope with his typical days in 1960s Los Angeles, takes an empty pistol and some notes alongside with this book in his briefcase.

I must say, that reading this novel was difficult, because of author’s use of words, that are not acquainted in these days and special scholastic terminology, and because of that, I have feeling that I haven’t truly understood everything, but I suppose that it is normal, because I am only studying and I don’t have responsibility to know everything. In novel, there were a lot of philosophical and psychic thoughts and ideas, so I chosed the most interesting and inspiring quotes for me, which all not reveals central plot of novel or main characters perception of life, but speaks about faith and philosophy, about life and death, about good and evil, about men nature and also biology. So now I will start to pull my favourite quotes out of the story.

”Potential evil is in time; potential good isn't. The longer you live, the more evil you automatically come into contact with. Nobody comes automatically into contact with good. Men don't find more good by merely existing longer.” Men have always wanted to live longer then they are supposed to, but it mostly isn’t because they want to fulfil their life with compassion and generosity to others, to those, who need help, or to gain more knowledge. All they mostly want to achieve is only their own, well, maybe sometimes also their families, goodness and wealthiness. Most of men only thinks of self-interest, but are they really inteded just for it.

There must be something more for them (and us) in this life. All our life we are busy to make our plans and dreams to come true, and when our time has almost come to an end, we want to life longer to do something good. But why now, why we haven’t thought of it earlier? Because we didn’t have time. But I must say, it is so lame argument. Time was all around us, but we didn’t spend it concerning about and doing things that really matters. So, if you can extend your time, it doesn’t mean that you will know how to spend it and find good. Time is evil, because it is slowly and consistently killing us.

”Why do we fall when we jump out of a tenth-story window? Because the nature of things happens to be such that we do fall.” I really liked this quote. It is so simple and obvious fact, but I have never thought of it, because it just happens so. This first sentence really sounds to me like wordplay. Why do we fall when we jump? Some will say it is because of gravity, and there is nothing we can do about it. It is science. But maybe we are not created to do and desire whatever we want. ”Jumping” or reaching for something we want, but don’t need to get, achieve or gain is ”falling” or maybe even salvation from it.

Our misfortune is that we don’t always stop after ”fall”, but instead we get back on that windowsill, despite our scars and bruises,and start looking down, searching for someone to catch us or something we can land on. This, in my opinion, is human nature. We don’t want to give up (ofcourse there are a loto f people who do give up, but that is already another story), we are stubborn, we know nature of things, but we are sure of that we can experiment and try to change it. ” Why should some animals live much longer than human beings and yet show no signs of old age.

Somehow, somewhere we had made a biological mistake.” This thought sound very interesting. We are cold the crown of nature, of all beings, but why is then do we live shorter lives than those, who are supposed to be below us . We are smarter, wiser, simply better than animals. Why don’t we live longer, for instance, why could not we day at age of 200? And again – time is evil.

It will last longer, but it will kill us anyway. And if we really, even obligatory, must life that long and become ape-likes, do we really want that? Would we like to become as Jo Stoyte, who doesn’t care about anything at all? I won’t. I think I would rather commit suicide, than become an animal. But question is – what went wrong in our development? Who made the mistake? I can’t explain why it is so, but I believe that it must be this way. We come into the world, we live and we die, and there is nothing wrong with it. It is nature of life. We are humans, we don’t need eternal life. We are smart and capable, buti f we could have more time, I think we won’t have any normal idea what to do with it. I believe that our world is breaking apart, there are too much bad things, catastrophes, cold-blooded people, who are willing to do everything to make moore good for themselves.

I would not like to live too long to witness all that what is going to happen and what we don’t know a thing about. ”If you're always scared of dying, you'll surely die. Fear's a poison; and not such a slow poison either.” This spoke to me too and it is connected with previous quotes and my thoughts. I don’t really know statistics, but I think there are nearly equal amount of people who are scared of dying and who are not. I can include me in this not scared part. Why should I be scared? I know, I will die, sooner or later. I don’t believe in any predictions, but once I filled test with title – „When you will die?”. If it is true, it will happen on 16 of January, in 2016.

So, it seems that I will be able to finish my studies and maybe even work for and half a year, and then ... That’s it! I am gone, and how? In a car accident. But thank goodness, I don’t have a drivers licence. I think it is obvious, that I am making fun of this. I don’t believe I will day at age of 26. But if I will, I am not scared of it. I almost like my life, it isn’t bad, but it always could be better, and if it becomes better untill 2016, then death – bring it on! I don’t have self-destructive inclination. I am living here and now and I am suggesting others to do the same. Don’t do stupid things and play with your destiny, but use our days, make them worth it. Thinking of dying will kill much faster.

Don’t be afraid of death, if it smells your fear, it will track you down and kill you more painfully. There were a lot of nice quotations, but because of the page limit (and if there won’t be any, I would need much more to write everything I would like), I will only write some of them down without discussing. ”The real conditions at any given moment are the subjective conditions of the people then alive”. On the human level. men live in ignorance, craving and fear. Ignorance, craving and fear result in some temporary pleasures, in many lasting miseries, in final frustration. ”What is man? A nothingness surrounded by God, indigent and capable of God, filled with God, if he so desires.”

In conclusion I can say, that I was interested in these philosophical and eternal thoughts, proposed by the author. They are meaningful, they make me think and I consider that the greatest credit of studying.

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After Many a Summer Dies the Swan by Aldous Huxley. (2016, Jul 15). Retrieved from

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