His most well-known work is the dystopian novel, Brave New World. In 1958, he published Brave New World Revisited, a set of essays on real-world problems and ideas from the novel--overpopulation, overorganization, and psychological techniques from salesmanship to hypnopaedia, or sleep-teaching.

My personal favorite Huxley novel is Eyeless in Gaza, the story of the "fashionably cynical" central character's conversion from selfish isolation to transcendental mysticism.

Doors of Perception is okay if you haven't read anything else on the subject. (If you think about it in historical context, it totally rocks, but that doesn't help readability much, does it?) Fortunately, the current paperback edition of 'doors' includes Heaven and Hell, which is much more intellectually stimulating--providing a very nice scientific/cultural/antropological examination of the trancendental without robbing it of meaning.

Moving forward, doors/heaven make a very nice pair--definitely better than either book alone.

In his work heaven and hell, he associated the religious epiphany and the psychadelic experince of mescalin/lsd. To quote directly from "The Doors of Perception" pg. 73 of the perennial library edition:

All I am suggesting is that the mescalin experience is what the catholic theologians call "a gratuitous grace", not necessary to salvation, but potentially helpful.

He stated this because of the similarities of the molecular structure of mescalin to certain (bio types correct, or expound upon this statement) types of adrenalin.

A belief in hell and the knowledge that every ambition is doomed to frustration at the hands of a skeleton have never prevented the majority of human beings from behaving as though death were no more than an unfounded rumour.

-- Aldous Huxley

Aldous Huxley died while on LSD. That is, while dying, he requested an injection of LSD. Rather than being an urban legend, this event is well-documented in Albert Hofmann's book, LSD: My Problem Child:

Aldous Huxley died on 22 November of the same year, on the same day President Kennedy was assassinated. From Laura Huxley I obtained a copy of her letter to Julian and Juliette Huxley, in which she reported to her brother- and sister-in-law about her husband's last day. The doctors had prepared her for a dramatic end, because the terminal phase of cancer of the throat, from which Aldous Huxley suffered, is usually accompanied by convulsions and choking fits. He died serenely and peacefully, however.

In the morning, when he was already so weak that he could no longer speak, he had written on a sheet of paper: "LSD-try it-intramuscular-100 mmg." Mrs. Huxley understood what was meant by this, and ignoring the misgivings of the attending physician, she gave him, with her own hand, the desired injection-she let him have the moksha medicine.

Aldous Huxley (1894-1963)

Aldous Huxley was born on July 26, 1894, into an illustrious family. His maternal great-grandfather was Thomas Arnold, a former Head of Rugby School who had been involved in modernising the education system, and appeared as a character in Tom Brown's Schooldays. His paternal grandfather was Thomas Henry Huxley, who had been a great biologist and fellow of the Royal Society. It was later confirmed, as one might expect, that this heritage put some pressure on Huxley. Gerald Heard, a life-long friend and confidant, later said that Huxley's parentage "brought down on him a weight of intellectual authority and a momentum of moral obligations."

Huxley went to Eton in 1908 and studied there until 1913, during the course of this time getting an eye infection which would plague him for the rest of his life and hearing of his mother's death from cancer. Despite these setbacks, he went on to join Balliol College, Oxford, graduating with first class honours in English Language and Literature. While at Oxford, he joined literary circles, coming into contact with writers such as Bertrand Russell and Lytton Strachey, as well as becoming a close friend of D H Lawrence's. It was, no doubt, by their inspiration that he published his first book in 1916, a collection of poems.

After graduating, Huxley took a job as a teacher, and married Maria Nys, a Belgian, in 1919, having his only son, Matthew Huxley, by her in 1920. This young family travelled the world, alternating between living in London and Italy in the early 1920s and around the whole world in the latter part of the century. His visit to America inspired him in his description of the perpetual happiness attempted in Brave New World, his magnum opus.

Perhaps the defining inspiration for the novel, however, was Huxley's time spent in Italy under Mussolini, who fought against birth control in an attempt to increase the size of the army in preparation for the next war. The book was published in 1931, and paints a picture of a dystopia, much like George Orwell's 1984, although Orwell in his writing had the benefit of hindsight to the Nazi regime, and Huxley was later to say of the comparison between the two novels: ""The future dictatorship of my imaginary world was a good deal less brutal than the future dictatorship so brilliantly portrayed by Orwell."

Aldous moved to America, disenamoured with the 'Europe of dictators' of the time, and there he moved to Hollywood, where he became a screenwriter. In 1946, he wrote The Perennial Philosophy, his most important non-fictional work.

In the 1950s, Huxley became notorious for his affinity with LSD. One reason for his experiments, according to friends, was the feeling of escaping from himself, a desire he had had as a child when he felt alienated. He wrote several books on his experiences, including the non-fiction works Doors of Perception and Heaven and Hell, based on his experiences with taking mescaline under supervision. His (mis)adventures also inspired him to fiction, leading to the creation of Island, which can be seen as an antidote to Brave New World. In this novel, the islanders take psilocybe mushrooms in a ritualistic manner.

Huxley wrote 47 books in his career. Maria Huxley died in 1955, and he married Laura Archera a year later. He died on November 22, 1963, and was cremated. Anthony Burgess said of him that he 'equipped the novel with a brain'.

Selected Works:

Anthologies

Children's Literature

Film Scripts

Novels

Poetry

Other


Sources:
  • http://somaweb.org/w/huxbio.html
  • http://www.age-of-the-sage.org/sources/aldous_huxley.html
  • http://somaweb.org/w/huxworks.html

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