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Aldous Huxley: A Biographyby Sybille Bedford
Synopses & Reviews
In this dazzling conjunction of subject and author, the great English novelist Aldous Huxley, the "wholly civilized man," is brought wholly alive in a magnificent full-scale biography by the brilliant English novelist Sybille Bedford, an intimate friend of the Huxleys through four decades. With a pointillistic richness of moment, place, and talk, she re-creates not only the private Huxley and the literary Huxley but the entire intellectual and social era to which he was central.
Despite the almost total loss of his sight at age sixteen, Huxley became a titan and cultural hero of the decades after World War I, on terms with the outstanding writers and artists of his day, from D. H. Lawrence to Stravinksy and Auden. He had two separate and large careers — first as the iconoclastic wit of such novels as Crome Yellow and Point Counter Point, flag-bearer of England's Bright Young People through the 1920s, and romancer of glittering women; and later, in America, as the increasingly philosophical and utopian thinker, and a pioneering explorer of the frontiers of the human mind.
Drawing on his letters and diaries, the memories of his intimates, and her own sharp and sensitive comprehension of Huxley's writings, Mrs. Bedford has written a masterful biography. Her "novelist's eye," writes V. S. Pritchett, "brings the writer to life." Huxley becomes a living, deeply attractive presence, while his great contemporaries flash through these pages in memorable and moving encounters. Mrs. Bedford's biography stands as the major work on a major figure in the literary and intellectual history of the twentieth century.
"Although the acerbic wit of Huxley's early novels ? Antic Hay, Crome Yellow, and Point Counter Point ? rivals Waugh's, and although his range and depth as an essayist are breathtaking, his artistic stature doesn't merit a nearly 800-page biography. Which makes Bedford's achievement all the more astonishing. Her book, first published in 1973 and recently reissued, is one of the great literary portraits of the past fifty years." Benjamin Schwarz, The Atlantic Monthly (read the entire Atlantic review)
"One of the great classic English biographies...unforgettably profound and unsparing...as forbidding to competitors as Boswell's life of Johnson." Philip Hensher, The Spectator (U.K.)
"Bedford drew on firsthand experience while writing this 1974 biography of Huxley, with whom she was friends for 40 years. She also had access to his diaries and personal papers as well as the cooperation of family and other friends. Her novelist's style makes for a very readable account." Library Journal
"[Bedford's] work is so singularly absorbing owing to the complete sympathy she somehow pairs with her characteristic detachment." The Atlantic Monthly
Book News Annotation:
Bedford's massive biography charts the course of Aldous Huxley's life and career, drawing on his writings, his and others' correspondence, and interviews. Bedford, who was a close friend of the Huxleys, supplies personal reminiscences occasionally, and includes many lengthy and frequent excerpts from her sources. The result is a dense chronicle of a writer and his circle, their often experimental lifestyles, and their critical political and literary ideas. Annotation (c)2003 Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
In this dazzling conjunction of subject and author, the great English novelist Aldous Huxley is brought wholly alive in a magnificent full-scale biography by the brilliant English novelist Sybille Bedford, an intimate friend of the Huxleys through four decades. Her "novelist's eye," writes V. S. Pritchett, "brings the writer to life."
A full-scale biography by the brilliant English novelist, an intimate friend of the Huxleys through four decades. She re-creates not only the private Huxley and the literary Huxley but the entire intellectual and social era to which he was central. One of the great classic English biographies...as forbidding to competitors as Boswell's life of Johnson. --Philip Hensher, Spectator
Includes bibliographical references (p. 745-746) and index.
About the Author
Sybille Bedford is the author of A Legacy, A Favorite of the Gods, Jigsaw, and A Compass Error, all novels published to international praise. Her nonfiction works include The Sudden View, The Trial of Dr. Adams, and The Faces of Justice. She lives in London.
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