Saturday, June 7, 2014

Forgotten Book: Crome Yellow by Aldous Huxley

One of the pleasures of reading vintage fiction is the sudden encounter with a forgotten figure. Ghosts who now flit only in dusty archives stand in front of you as warm living presences. Thus it was that in Aldous Huxley's Crome Yellow that a character mentioned Mrs. Besant and suddenly Annie Besant (whom I must admit I had all but forgotten) was there speaking to the massive crowd that had come to welcome her release from a British jail and make her the president of the Indian National Congress.




Crome Yellow, Huxley's first novel, is a country-house novel in the sense that a group of people assemble under one roof, eating, drinking, and talking amongst themselves. Through their conversations various ideas are put forth, expounded, accepted or criticised. Thus aspiring author Denis Stone finds himself in the company of a diverse set which includes the deaf but brilliantly perceptive Jenny (what Denis finds in her journal is extremely funny), Henry Wimbush, the host, who is writing a history of his family (and the tale of Hercules the Dwarf is pretty moving), and the cynic Mr. Scogan who asks Denis: "Why will you young men continue to write about things that are so entirely uninteresting as the mentality of adolescents and artists?" Rather tongue-in-cheek, considering that Joyce's A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man had appeared only a few years earlier and had been hailed as heralding a new age in English literature. {And yes, I concur totally with Mr. Scogan's view}.



Reading about the socio-cultural scenario of the 1920s was fun too. Here's Denis' hostess describing what she saw when they allowed the village folk to use the bathing-pool:

"... mixed bathing....saw them out of my window.... sent for a pair of filed glasses to make sure.... no doubt of it...."

Scandalous!!!

There was also a mention of Nestle's milk ad with two cats. Thanks to the internet, I was able to view it:

source

All in all, a good book for a lazy afternoon.

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First Line: ALONG this particular stretch of line no express had ever passed.

Title: Crome Yellow
Author: Aldous Huxley
Publication Details: London: Chatto and Windus
First Published: 1921
Pages: 219
Source: College Library [823.874 H982C]

Other books read of the same author: Brave New World, Brief Candles, Point Counterpoint, Those Barren Leaves.

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Entry for FFB @ Pattinase.

6 comments:

  1. Neer, I have not read Aldous Huxley although I have had several opportunities to read this book and "Brave New World." I have this particular stamp of Annie Besant who, incidentally, came out with her own interpretation of the "Bhagavad Gita."

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    1. Prashant, I like Huxley. His short story collection Brief Candles is quite a favourite of mine.

      How lucky that you have this stamp of Annie Besant. She was quite something, wasn't she? Is her interpretation of the Gita available? Would love to read it.

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    2. Neer, I think you should find Besant's "Gita" online. It's a slim book. Mine was pocket-sized till it came apart. The stamp might still be available in any philately section of India Post.

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    3. Thanks Prashant, I'll definitely try to find it online.

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  2. Sounds like a great read, Neer! and it's free in ebook at Project Gutenberg! http://www.gutenberg.org/ebooks/1999

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    1. It was an easy read Peggy. Enjoyable but with no 'hangover' (for which I am very thankful).

      Gutenberg is wonderful. Thanks to all those who help maintain it.

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