Aldous Huxley, from Poet to Mystic

By Jerome Meckier

Aldous Huxley began as a poet. He perfected the voice of the modern satirical poet of ideas, who used art against itself to produce a parodic poetry of breakdowns, collapses, stalemates, and dead ends best suited to the apparent pointlessness of the post-war era. His cleverest, most irreverent poems are contrapuntal: they, in effect, silence venerable poets and cancel traditional formats. Huxley's poetic personas either fail to preserve conventional forms or purposely sabotage them. By 1920, Huxley became the parodic equivalent of the formative intelligences (i.e., Dante, Goethe, and Lucretius) who once synthesized their respective eras positively. In this book, author Jerome Meckier explicates most of Huxley's poems, including Leda, his masterpiece, an ironical modern myth. Meckier traces Huxley's development in terms of the poets he inserted in five of his eleven novels, along with their poems. These poets mostly fail as poets, their different stances falling apart one after another. But Huxley began to detect a spiritual significance underlying the creative urge. This allowed him to rehabilitate many of the Romantic and Victorian poets he formerly ridiculed as frauds and liars. Eventually, he celebrated mystical contemplation as silent poetry, positing a utopia in which everyone is a poet to the limits of his or her potentiality. Huxley became the perennial philosopher, a neo-Brahmin: the sage-like figure he initially personified parodically. His paradigmatic career took him from a Pyrrhonic silencing of outmoded poems and poets to the advocacy of a poetry of silence. (Series: "Human Potentialities". Studien zu Aldous Huxley & zeitgenossischer Kultur/Studies in Aldous Huxley & Contemporary Culture - Vol. 11)

392 pages

Publication Date: 8/31/2011
Format: Paper
ISBN: 9783643901019