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Ape and Essence Paperback – August 1, 1992
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The book is pretty easy to describe. Two Hollywood types find a manuscript that dropped off a truck bound for the incinerator. The script is entitled, "Ape and Essence," by a William Tallis. Somebody didn't care much for his script; they marked it incinerate and underlined that word twice. The two read the script and try to find Mr. Tallis, only to discover that he died a few months earlier. What follows this brief introduction is the script, in its entirety.
"Ape and Essence" is about a post-nuclear holocaust world. New Zealand escaped the holocaust, and now they are sending explorers to America to see how the world is coming along. The main character here is Dr. Poole, a botanist. The survivors who roam the ruins of Los Angeles capture Poole and agree to let him live if he can improve crop production. Poole witnesses some unusual behavior amongst the natives, behavior that is explained to him by the archpriest of Belial.
Huxley uses this odd world as a backdrop for his own views on humanity in the 20th century. Huxley feels that mankind never got past the beast (or ape) inside.Read more ›
Nevertheless, this is a powerful, passionate, and haunting book. I cannot think of any other book which makes such a frighteningly real case for Evil as an operative principle in the world. Even more amazing, this case is presented under the guise of what looks and sounds like a B-grade horror flick. Imagine if, say, Dostoevsky had written his great novels as comic books -- and they still had the same terrifying, probing depth as the novels. That's essentially the effet that Huxley achieves, and it is uncanny.
Huxley is speaking of the condition of modern civilization *as it is*, under a set of grotesque, phantasmagoric masks. Unforgettable.
It's 1948, Ghandi has just been assassinated, and two guys connected to the movie business come across a script that's just fallen from a trash truck. They set out to find the author, whose script makes up the bulk of the novel.
There are a lot of wonderful "postmodern" touches here -- for example, one of the main characters in the script picks up a copy of Shelley that's about to be burned, and ends up reading it at the grave of the fictional author of the script saved from the trash heap.
In addition, this book's scenes of apes lording themselves over human beings unquestionably inspired Planet of the Apes.
And finally, the novel's descriptions of classical music in its portrayal of a dystopia probably influenced A Clockwork Orange. In fact, Anthony Burgess named Ape and Essence one of the best novels in English since 1939:
"Novels like Ape and Essence seem now to be very much products of their time [immediately post-Hiroshima] and rather dated. But this is Huxley -- clever, brutal, thoughtful, original -- and his fictional tract clings to the mind....It is a nauseating vision of a still possible future...."
Well worth reading.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Very interesting book. Definitely not my favorite by Huxley but well worth the short read. As an amateur filmmaker I was interested in the script style writing, tho couldn't... Read morePublished 13 days ago by A.Diamond
Ape and Essence is a lesser known work by Aldous Huxley, but ranks up there with "Brave New World" as a brilliant, prescient and critical view of modern human culture. Read morePublished 2 months ago by agatha2
A quick read, and much to think about as well. Apes rule the world (see nuclear energy disasters, nuclear bomb detonations, World War II, politicians lying etc)Published 5 months ago by Bartok Kinski
Huxley is a modern day prophet. His insights about nationalism and progress speak volumes to our current society. Read morePublished 11 months ago by Ken
It's so old that each page literally falls off when I turn it. It is very upsetting because each page is amazing and then wabam, I'm disappointed that it is torn. Read morePublished 12 months ago by Sofia Ramos-Hidalgo
Written in 1948, this less-known Huxley novel could easily have been written this year. A very enjoyable read.Published 18 months ago by John Hatley
A good read, but at times felt uninspired. Similar to Brave New World, so if you enjoyed Huxley's other offering, this may quench your thirst for defying an assimilated and... Read morePublished 19 months ago by Josh Weston
Apes are holding Einsteins by the ropes in both fighting sides. The same apes are trying to create a new society after the nuclear war. Read morePublished 22 months ago by Aistis Zidanavicius