Fair. No Dust Jacket. Cover shows significant edge wear and bumps, may have soiling, stains or water marks. Pages may contain former owner name, highlighting or underlining, soiling, and light water wrinkling.
Good. Harper & Row/Perennial 1972 abridged edition mass market, good cover, smooth spine, tight binding, tanning pages, clean text Prompt, reliable service, shipped next business day. Int'l mailed via first class or priority.
Very Good minus. No DJ. 12mo = 7-9" 301 pp. Blue hard covers with gold lettering on black spine. Bumping on corners with wear marks on front and back covers. Some staining on front cover and front end papers. Very clean.
First published in 1956, this is a collection of 17 essays which Aldous Huxley wrote between 1952 and 1956. Although a few of the essays are somewhat dated, in general the essays are insightful, fresh, fascinating, a bit shocking and even outlandish (the final essay in which Huxley advocates a form of free love where the male never climaxes squarely falls in the last two categories).
Huxley was such an out-of-the-box thinker that I sometimes suspect that he must have felt like a changeling, smuggled into the wrong culture, in the wrong century, on the wrong planet. A few of the essays are so esoteric, I had trouble grasping what Huxley was trying to say. Take, for example, this pair of sentences from 'The Education of an Amphibian': "Every human being is an amphibian -- or, to be more accurate, every human being is five or six amphibians rolled into one. Simultaneously or alternately, we inhabit many different and even incommensurable universes." When I first read those two sentences, I jumped to the conclusion that Huxley was in an altered state of consciousness when he wrote them. After finishing the essay, I revised my conclusion. Huxley was trying to put in words experiences that were beyond language. No wonder it sounded strange.
Huxley was also a master of the anecdote. In 'Hyperion to a Satyr' an essay about the essential dirtiness of mankind, Huxley tells of a stroll with Thomas Mann down a Los Angeles beach. The two literati were so oblivious to their surroundings that their more alert wives had to stop them and point out that they were walking through a sea of prophylactics and other human waste that had washed in with the tide from a nearby sewage dump. "Malthusian flotsam and unspeakable jetsam", Huxley called it. He had a way with words.
And, Huxley was a seeker. Three of the essays in this book concern separatist utopian communes (both religious and secular). These essays are fascinating and appear to be well-researched. While Huxley praises the idealism of these communities, Huxley is well aware of the irony that all of the utopias failed or died out within a generation or two.
Huxley was an exceedingly good essayist. All of the essays in this collection are good, but none of them rise to the level of excellence that I've seen in other Huxley anthologies. In comparison to some other Huxley essay collections, this one is worth only 3 stars. For a truly five-star essay collection by Huxley, try the one titled, Huxley and God, which contains 28 of Huxley's religious essays.
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