Friday, January 08, 2010

great literature

I recently downloaded Aldous Huxley's first novel, Crome Yellow for my ebook, more out of curiosity than anything else and with a vague memory of having read (and enjoyed) Brave New World at school. Crome Yellow is an interesting enough first novel but the most interesting thing about it are the suggestions and hints of what would come in Huxley's later and more famous book, which I then decided to re-read after what must be 30 years, leading me to wonder: 1) in what way I had understood the book when I read it at school and; 2) why we had been guided through the text so poorly.

We read Brave New World with Mr Ross - the tiny man on whom Laurence Llewelyn-Bowen must surely have based his sartorial style - a marvellous and enthusiastic English teacher whom I really liked. It is surprising, therefore, that we seem to have skipped over some of the essential elements of the text - such as morality - focussing instead on the social aspects of engineering a society (genetically) to be "perfect". What Huxley does so elegantly in his book is create a complete picture of how this ghastly society operates and then sets about pointing up the flaws with an outsider character. That elegance was lost on me until this re-reading.

Eyes wide open, I now approach another book from school which I haven't read since: Orwell's Nineteen Eighty-four.

The cold spell continues. My beard froze: