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After Many a Summer Dies the Swan Paperback – January 1, 1993

4.2 out of 5 stars 44 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

A comedic novel written by Aldous Huxley. Published in 1939 under the title After Many a Summer, the novel was republished under its current title later in the same year. Written soon after Huxley left England and settled in California, the novel is Huxley's examination of American culture, particularly what he saw as its narcissism, superficiality, and obsession with youth. The title is a line from Alfred, Lord Tennyson's poem "Tithonus," about a figure from Greek mythology to whom Zeus gave eternal life but not eternal youth. In Huxley's novel, California millionaire Jo Stoyte learns of an English nobleman who discovered a way to vastly extend the human life span. Stoyte travels to England and finds the nobleman still alive, but he has devolved into an apelike creature. Stoyte decides to extend his life regardless of the consequences. --The Merriam-Webster Encyclopedia of Literature --This text refers to the Library Binding edition.

About the Author

Aldous Huxley (1894–1963), one of the most important English novelists of the twentieth century, is best known for A Brave New World and other novels and short stories, including Ape and Essence and Collected Short Stories, both published by Ivan R. Dee.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Ivan R. Dee; Reprint edition (January 1, 1993)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1566630185
  • ISBN-13: 978-1566630184
  • Product Dimensions: 5.4 x 1 x 7.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (44 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #437,877 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Library Binding
Most people read Huxley's Brave New World (under duress, maybe, in school) and possibly Chrome Yellow and Eyeless in Gaza, his two other popular novels. However, After Many a Summer is a wonderful, not-very-long novel that displays Huxley's superb sarcastic wit.
In this novel, Huxley plays on man's fear of death. He creates a somewhat W. R. Hearst-like rich businessman who wants to use his money and power to cheat Death, and a scientist who has no compunctions against using any means to lengthen life, without questioning what quality that extended life really has. The ending is a real surprise.
This is one of Huxley's most enjoyable novels to read. It is also a timely one that can be read in the light of the new genetic research pusing the boundaries of science. As in Brave New World, Huxley was frighteningly accurate in his prophesies.
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Format: Paperback
A lot of the reviews here make valid points: the philosophical asides are brilliant but tedious for people who don't like philosophy. The characters (the entire plot in fact) do sometimes seem like an afterthought, employed to support the 'big' ideas, but that's not to say they're two-dimensional.

However, when reading a book like this it's important not to get too focused on only one of the many interesting ideas that fly like sparks from Huxley's mind. Explorations of mortality, eroticism, class struggle, mysticism, greed, ...etc. are all presented dispassionately enough. As such, they're like colors on Huxley's palette; and it's not rewarding to complain about a particular shade of green.

The thing that struck me was that Huxley is very specific about the character types he chooses to include here. His decision to pit the grasping Stoyte against the impossibly saint-like Propter elaborates an inner-dialogue one can imagine Huxley was having to reconcile his own idealized world-view with the reality he had encountered in America. In doing this Huxley provides justification and outlines a strategy for implementing his utopian vision.

For me; it's this attempt to reconcile the world of ideas with reality that, like with much of Hesse's work, seems to be the focal point of the book. I'm looking forward to reading Huxley's later books to see how he develops this attempted reconciliation.
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By A Customer on March 8, 1999
Format: Paperback
This is Huxley's "American" novel, in which he manages to lampoon the more outrageous aspects of American popular culture- and in particular California culture- while still managing to get in a few digs at his own countrymen. It's hard to discuss in depth without disclosing too much, but suffice it to say that it's got plenty of Huxley's wit along with his social commentary and a hilarious ending. If you liked Waugh's "The Loved One" you'll find this much to your liking as well.
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Format: Paperback
I first read this book thirty years ago as an adolescent, and it made a big impression on my impressionable, snobbish mind. And it was (is) funny!

Reading it and some other Huxley material this year, I am struck by how singleminded AH is in his ideas. Every essay, every story, at least after the 1930s, is driven by his desire to show how humanity is lost in a maze of materialist illusion. He is a mystic, and if that tickles you, perhaps his extended intellectual diaglogs in this book will interest you. Otherwise, just read the deliciously satirical parts. (His detached prose describing the movements of A nearly naked young starlet's body is a tour de force of clinical eroticism).

His literary skills are enormous, his description of southern california in the 30s rang true in the 70s when I lived there and read it, and still do. His humour, arch, esoteric, but sharp, can be a joy. When he gets serious, that's when he has a problem as he lapses into portentous nonsense about the ground of being, the One, etc. Huxley was a acid head long before he started dabbling with drugs - and his mystical discussions make little sense, unless you are already of that mind. Aesthetically, they are highly repetitive and rather irritating.

Readers who want an introduction to his work would do better, I think, to begin with his best, Brave New World. In that one, he used his considerable gifts to their best advantage, and kept his endless and indulgent maundering to a minimum.
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Format: Paperback
I'll let you read the other reviews for the details. I wish only to add that I read this book more than forty years ago and its images are still bright and clear in my mind to this day.
True, it may not qualify as "a literary masterpiece" in academic circles, but surely the clarity of those images in my mind after all these years qualifies it for some kind of prize! I was delighted to find it back in print.
Huxley may not have had a scientist's clear understanding of Darwin's Theory of Evolution. Indeed the artistic license he took with that theory may well have given many fighting the Creationism vs. Evolution battle some misinformation to fuel their firey debates, but his insights into human nature, his fascination with and revulsion for America and Americans rings as true and insightful today as it did in 1939.
Read this book! It will tickle your funny bone and keep you thinking for decades to come.
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