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Those Barren Leaves

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Aldous Huxley spares no one in his ironic, piercing portrayal of a group gathered in an Italian palace by the socially ambitious and self-professed lover of art, Mrs. Aldwinkle. Here, Mrs. Aldwinkle yearns to recapture the glories of the Italian Renaissance, but her guests ultimately fail to fulfill her naive expectations. Among her entourage are: a suffering poet and relu Aldous Huxley spares no one in his ironic, piercing portrayal of a group gathered in an Italian palace by the socially ambitious and self-professed lover of art, Mrs. Aldwinkle. Here, Mrs. Aldwinkle yearns to recapture the glories of the Italian Renaissance, but her guests ultimately fail to fulfill her naive expectations. Among her entourage are: a suffering poet and reluctant editor of the "Rabbit Fanciers' Gazette" who silently bears the widowed Mrs. Aldwinkle's desperate advances; a popular novelist who records every detail of her affair with another guest, the amorous Calamy, for future literary endeavors; and an aging sensualist philosopher who pursues a wealthy yet mentally-disabled heiress. Stripping the houseguests of their pretensions, Huxley reveals the superficiality of the cultural elite. Deliciously satirical, Those Barren Leaves bites the hands of those who dare to posture or feign sophistication and is as comically fresh today as when first published.

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Aldous Huxley spares no one in his ironic, piercing portrayal of a group gathered in an Italian palace by the socially ambitious and self-professed lover of art, Mrs. Aldwinkle. Here, Mrs. Aldwinkle yearns to recapture the glories of the Italian Renaissance, but her guests ultimately fail to fulfill her naive expectations. Among her entourage are: a suffering poet and relu Aldous Huxley spares no one in his ironic, piercing portrayal of a group gathered in an Italian palace by the socially ambitious and self-professed lover of art, Mrs. Aldwinkle. Here, Mrs. Aldwinkle yearns to recapture the glories of the Italian Renaissance, but her guests ultimately fail to fulfill her naive expectations. Among her entourage are: a suffering poet and reluctant editor of the "Rabbit Fanciers' Gazette" who silently bears the widowed Mrs. Aldwinkle's desperate advances; a popular novelist who records every detail of her affair with another guest, the amorous Calamy, for future literary endeavors; and an aging sensualist philosopher who pursues a wealthy yet mentally-disabled heiress. Stripping the houseguests of their pretensions, Huxley reveals the superficiality of the cultural elite. Deliciously satirical, Those Barren Leaves bites the hands of those who dare to posture or feign sophistication and is as comically fresh today as when first published.

30 review for Those Barren Leaves

  1. 4 out of 5

    Ryan Williams

    Huxley is best known for Brave New World, and his later descent into drugs and quackery. That seems a pity. His satires from the 1920s stood out even in that pitiless decade for their icy precision and clarity, and Those Barren Leaves is the sharpest.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Natalie Jean

    Extraordinarily clever. I laughed when I read this book, Huxley is a man of incredibly good satire. I believe the characters in this book invented as different facets of himself. And in his genius state, created them as mouthpieces for his own discussion on life. There is hardly a plot, and his characters are defined by singular niches, "the jaded socialite turned cynic, the beautiful writer, the shrewd devil may care, and the delusional overachieving social aspirer." The book is overwhelmingly Extraordinarily clever. I laughed when I read this book, Huxley is a man of incredibly good satire. I believe the characters in this book invented as different facets of himself. And in his genius state, created them as mouthpieces for his own discussion on life. There is hardly a plot, and his characters are defined by singular niches, "the jaded socialite turned cynic, the beautiful writer, the shrewd devil may care, and the delusional overachieving social aspirer." The book is overwhelmingly simple, but absurdly complex and self aware. I love a story set in the thirties.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Jim

    Aldous Huxley's Those Barren Leaves is one of the author's early novels that show he is destined for great things. Perhaps he did not become a great novelist such as Faulkner or Conrad, but he became one of the most powerful intellects of the 20th century. Whether he was writing essays, novels, short stories, or nonfiction, he was an incredible force. There are times in Those Barren Leaves where Huxley is pushing against the limits of what the genre could convey, and sending us into empyrean rea Aldous Huxley's Those Barren Leaves is one of the author's early novels that show he is destined for great things. Perhaps he did not become a great novelist such as Faulkner or Conrad, but he became one of the most powerful intellects of the 20th century. Whether he was writing essays, novels, short stories, or nonfiction, he was an incredible force. There are times in Those Barren Leaves where Huxley is pushing against the limits of what the genre could convey, and sending us into empyrean realms of literature and even, perhaps, religion. In many ways, the book resembles Crome Yellow: A group of English men and women are staying as guests at a country house -- this time in Italy. Mrs Aldwinkle has a need to dominate a group of people, receive their admiration, perhaps even their love. Love, however, proved elusive. Mrs Aldwinkle could not make much of a dent with Francis Chelifer. Mary Thriplow and the very masculine Calamy go part of the way. And Mr Cardan tries to woo a retarded woman, Miss Elver, which comes to naught when the latter is poisoned by bad seafood. I read this book many years ago and was delighted to find that I had not remembered the story or characters. Which only means that I loved it twice.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Mj Zander

    The book doesn't really pick up until the second part, but once it does, it's very hard to put it down. Comparing this book to Crome Yellow, Huxley's first shows his growth in character development and description. Here his characters are more complex. There is no doubt that Mr. Cardan is a reincarnation of Mr. Scogan and Mrs. Aldwinkle of Patricia Wimbush, but delightful reincarnations they are. In addition, Huxley masters scene-setting description with descriptions of "black silhouetted leaves The book doesn't really pick up until the second part, but once it does, it's very hard to put it down. Comparing this book to Crome Yellow, Huxley's first shows his growth in character development and description. Here his characters are more complex. There is no doubt that Mr. Cardan is a reincarnation of Mr. Scogan and Mrs. Aldwinkle of Patricia Wimbush, but delightful reincarnations they are. In addition, Huxley masters scene-setting description with descriptions of "black silhouetted leaves" against a pale sky, "thin luminous shadows" of olive trees, and mountain slopes of "blue and purple rapidly darkening to a deep uniform indigo." Huxley proves that one can create a fantastic sense of setting without being verbose. And while some of the dialogue can get a bit wordy, there are some real gems hidden within it that make it worth the time invested in reading it. Crome Yellow still holds its place as my favourite of Huxley's early works,but Those Barren Leaves is a close second.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Caroline

    This book really reads like a practice run for Point, Counter Point. Characters spout philosophical notions about life, death, religion, art, and every other topic the author is anxious about. Some very obvious Eastern religion influences which I can't remember if he develops in Point, Counter Point. The weird bit is how he flips through different genres--Balzacian character description, an autobiography, one bit even reads like a Gothic horror novel. I thought that the pacing dragged during the This book really reads like a practice run for Point, Counter Point. Characters spout philosophical notions about life, death, religion, art, and every other topic the author is anxious about. Some very obvious Eastern religion influences which I can't remember if he develops in Point, Counter Point. The weird bit is how he flips through different genres--Balzacian character description, an autobiography, one bit even reads like a Gothic horror novel. I thought that the pacing dragged during the Chelifer chapters, but that could also be that I just hated that character. As in most other Huxley novels I've read, he doesn't give off an enlightened view of women. The men are the deep thinkers in Those Barren Leaves, while the women appear shallow, silly, or downright stupid. Even Miss Thriplow, an accomplished and intelligent novelist, gets all of her ideas from the men around her and is too superficial to meditate. The end of the book culminates with the three dominating male characters discussing life and its meaning. You get the impression that this meeting of minds is only possible because they left behind the superfluous things in life (the women). It's always annoying to see a writer suggest that women are incapable of deep thought and, even worse, distract men from theirs. Huxley mentions over and over again that women are weaker and built for love and children and relationships. Even his enormous imagination can't come up with a world where women don't spend all of their time obsessing over men. Despite all this, I still enjoyed it and I'm definitely going to keep reading Huxley. He is witty and thoughtful, even if I sometimes want to wring his neck.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Peter

    “Enough of Science and of Art; Close up those barren leaves...” Huxley’s third novel explores and eviscerates, in a rather rambling but entertaining way, the cultural affectations of the 1920s, as represented by Mrs Aldwinkle’s circle of guests trapped in her palace in Italy. Mrs Aldwinkle has purchased not only the palace, but “vast domains unmentioned in the contract. She had bought [the aristocratic family] and their history...the whole peninsula and everything it contained...its arts, its mu “Enough of Science and of Art; Close up those barren leaves...” Huxley’s third novel explores and eviscerates, in a rather rambling but entertaining way, the cultural affectations of the 1920s, as represented by Mrs Aldwinkle’s circle of guests trapped in her palace in Italy. Mrs Aldwinkle has purchased not only the palace, but “vast domains unmentioned in the contract. She had bought [the aristocratic family] and their history...the whole peninsula and everything it contained...its arts, its music, its melodious language, its literature, its wine and cooking, the beauty of its women and the virility of its Fascists.” An enthusiastic if absurd patron of the arts, Mrs Aldwinkle is not at all based on Lady Ottoline Morrell (who never spoke to Huxley again). Huxley himself seems to appear under various guises. The poet Francis Chelifer considers himself an artist, but accedes to the banality and commercialization of his times and “makes the worst of it resolutely.” He writes for the Rabbit Fanciers’ Gazette, dines in a boarding house, and relishes the salon of Lady Giblet’s – “I never miss a single one if i can help it. The vulgarity, ignorance and stupidity of the hostess, the incredible second-rateness of her mangy lions – these are surely unique...Nowhere can you hear the ignorant, the illogical, the incapable of thought talking so glibly about things of which they have not the slightest understanding.” Not a flattering self-portrait. But Chelifer does have a wonderful way of enlivening dull days at the office. All you have to do, he says, is pause and question yourself: “Q. What did Buddha consider the most deadly of the deadly sins? A. Unawareness, stupidity. Q. And what will happen if I make myself aware, if I actually begin to think? A. Your swivel chair will turn into a trolley on the mountain railway, the office floor will gracefully slide away from beneath you and you will find yourself launched into the abyss.” The author is surely also present in Miss Thriplow, the commercially successful writer for whom life is merely a source of material for her novels; in the parasitic Mr Cardan – erudite, charming, cynical, and broke – who gets many of the best lines in the book; and in young but jaded Calamy who takes an increasing (if improbable) interest in the spiritual and mystical. There’s some rather awkward plotting and time wasted on a young couple who like fast cars (him) and lingerie (her), whom Huxley treats with some contempt, but the main thing is the writing – the dialogue and the wit, the speculations and digressions. Here’s one that caught my eye as being surprisingly prescient for a book published in 1925: “Cheap printing, wireless telephones, trains, motor cars, gramophones and all the rest are making it possible to consolidate tribes, not of a few thousands, but of millions....In a few generations it may be that the whole planet will be covered by one vast American-speaking tribe, composed of innumerable individuals, all thinking and acting in exactly the same way, like the characters in a novel by Sinclair Lewis.” Those Barren Leaves is baggier and less structured than Antic Hay – a bit of a mess of a novel, to be honest. But who cares? I thoroughly enjoyed it.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Ant

    Those Barren leaves is a brilliant book with a layered but nevertheless easy to follow structure of stories within stories & interesting digressions. The language in it is not quite as dense as his previous work Antic Hay (he must have learnt from his prior mistakes) & while the story itself is not overly rich, the trip the characters make to Rome makes up for it. While the characters themselves are basically flawed people, it is not difficult to like each of them if only for their weakn Those Barren leaves is a brilliant book with a layered but nevertheless easy to follow structure of stories within stories & interesting digressions. The language in it is not quite as dense as his previous work Antic Hay (he must have learnt from his prior mistakes) & while the story itself is not overly rich, the trip the characters make to Rome makes up for it. While the characters themselves are basically flawed people, it is not difficult to like each of them if only for their weaknesses. In the conclusion of the book you find (surprisingly) Huxley moving away from satirist to the philosophical tones which would come to dominate his later writings. Above all, the book is mischievously funny. It made me chuckle. I really didn’t expect such humour coming from an author I was previously accustomed to writing deep essays on the divine ground & the mystical. His wit & insight into everything he touched left me turning the last page feeling I had just read a complete story. Again, a brilliant book.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Neil

    I picked this book up on impulse without expectations. Right from the start, Huxley's excellent tongue-in-cheek humor is hard at work mocking the cultural elite on their Italian villa retreat. The beautiful Mediterranean setting is intentionally ironic, contrasting the rich achievements of the region's past artists with the people who are ostensibly in a position to carry their torch in modern society. Despite the essentially unsympathetic portrayals of the characters, and the hilarity of the co I picked this book up on impulse without expectations. Right from the start, Huxley's excellent tongue-in-cheek humor is hard at work mocking the cultural elite on their Italian villa retreat. The beautiful Mediterranean setting is intentionally ironic, contrasting the rich achievements of the region's past artists with the people who are ostensibly in a position to carry their torch in modern society. Despite the essentially unsympathetic portrayals of the characters, and the hilarity of the collapse of their various schemes, the introspection they develop as they suffer is meaningful. On the whole, I found it worth reading but not as enjoyable as another Huxley novel from the same time period, Antic Hay (which had a strong plot and much more likable characters).

  9. 4 out of 5

    Jim

    Refined, clever writing, but I felt it was a dated and mannered account of people it was hard to believe in, or indeed to care for. The narrative of the story is less interesting than the brilliant moments of elegant, intelligent description or the delightfully malicious humorous scenes, such as Mr Cardan's quest for a supposed prize sculpture. The novel often digresses into philosophical and linguistic discourse, and much of the dialogue is delivered, less to move on the plot, but more to make Refined, clever writing, but I felt it was a dated and mannered account of people it was hard to believe in, or indeed to care for. The narrative of the story is less interesting than the brilliant moments of elegant, intelligent description or the delightfully malicious humorous scenes, such as Mr Cardan's quest for a supposed prize sculpture. The novel often digresses into philosophical and linguistic discourse, and much of the dialogue is delivered, less to move on the plot, but more to make intellectual statements, as Huxley uses his self-regarding characters to give voice to a range of opinions. Some fine prose, but it became heavy going and a bit self indulgent towards the end.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Sorana

    I felt like reading high-quality fanfiction while reading this, and that was a compliment since reading fanfics is generally more fun than reading anything else. People, tons of interesting people and personalities and psychological observation, pretense and digression in a pretentious social environment, not one detail remained unsaid. Add tons of philosophical discussions in that context- perfect. The mysticism at the end was predictable, but welcomed. This was wonderful and I'm looking forwar I felt like reading high-quality fanfiction while reading this, and that was a compliment since reading fanfics is generally more fun than reading anything else. People, tons of interesting people and personalities and psychological observation, pretense and digression in a pretentious social environment, not one detail remained unsaid. Add tons of philosophical discussions in that context- perfect. The mysticism at the end was predictable, but welcomed. This was wonderful and I'm looking forward to taking all my time reading Huxley's similar novels.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Sarah

    How could the guy who wrote Brave New World also write a book this boring and pointless? It boggles the mind.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Mark Elderson

    What's it about? It is the mid 1920's and Italy. Just as with Crome Yellow, Aldous Huxley's Those Barren Leaves begins with someone on a bicycle approaching a very big house. In this case it happens to be only a postman on the bicycle, but the Big House is again central, this time being an Italian former summer-palace now owned by a wealthy English lady entertaining herself with whatever interesting company she can get her hands on. Aldous Huxley again mixing Interesting Ideas voiced in the conv What's it about? It is the mid 1920's and Italy. Just as with Crome Yellow, Aldous Huxley's Those Barren Leaves begins with someone on a bicycle approaching a very big house. In this case it happens to be only a postman on the bicycle, but the Big House is again central, this time being an Italian former summer-palace now owned by a wealthy English lady entertaining herself with whatever interesting company she can get her hands on. Aldous Huxley again mixing Interesting Ideas voiced in the conversations or the thoughts of his characters, with Humour in the form of his customary affectionate mockery and a wit which reaches its highlights when he is being very rude about the Working Class or about the Upper Class. Comment. The hand - throughout the 1920's Aldous Huxley was, recalling the edict to either be interesting or be entertaining (else why should people stick around?), writing novels that were trying to be both. But, isn't there a feeling that, for Huxley anyway, the Interesting - the Ideas in these novels - was always the first concern? Those Barren Leaves ends on a large one of these Ideas: Is it possible, through some form of contemplation techniques, through hard concentration on one thing and therefore an emptying of the mind of all distractions, is it possible to 'open the curtain' on an astonishing and wider 'reality' within which our own limited perceived reality dwells? Later on in his life, did Huxley in addition to his other hunting go off on a hunt in just this direction? Those Barren Leaves draws to a close on this idea, and it is here that Aldous Huxley reveals a little of his writing craft. It is here that he chooses to use a device - the hand. A man and a young woman are in bed. The man is holding up his hand. The hand, for him, would be the introduction to something he has been considering but has not yet summoned up the courage to embark upon - a withdrawal from his pointless, yet pleasantly distracting, world, into a world of the isolated cottage and a freedom to force the mind on to these contemplation techniques. Why not start the process by contemplating just this very hand. And the young woman contemplates the hand and thinks about what that hand could be doing on her body. And what does the young woman say? '"Why don't you think about me?" (-) "I'm sorry I should have got in the way of your important occupations," she said in her most sarcastic voice. "Such as thinking about your hand." She laughed derisively. There was a long silence.' That hand means one thing to the contemplative man: that hand means another thing to a certain sort of young woman. It is the juxtaposition of the two that is, within what this novel is trying to explore, a bit clever.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Doug Lewars

    *** Possible Spoilers *** This book is not easy reading. 1923 - 1925: These are the dates during which Those Barren Leaves was most likely written. At the time Huxley was publishing every two to three years so it seems reasonable that he wrote in between publishing dates. The First World War had been over for 5 years. Although some might have detected the first hints of problems in Germany, it is unlikely they'd be noticed by most people. Most people could view the world in a reasonably optimisti *** Possible Spoilers *** This book is not easy reading. 1923 - 1925: These are the dates during which Those Barren Leaves was most likely written. At the time Huxley was publishing every two to three years so it seems reasonable that he wrote in between publishing dates. The First World War had been over for 5 years. Although some might have detected the first hints of problems in Germany, it is unlikely they'd be noticed by most people. Most people could view the world in a reasonably optimistic manner. It was a time when the term 'classism' would have been considered ridiculous. Of course there were classes and it seemed perfectly reasonable for them to exist. In this book, Huxley deals exclusively with the upper class; and, in particular, the artistic class - its foibles and pretensions - and there are a LOT of pretensions. Set in a castle somewhere in Italy, Mrs. Aldwinkle gathers about her individuals she considers unique, intelligent and artistic. In fact, such talents as they have are mostly in their own minds. They imagine themselves to be the highest of the intelligentsia and it is this that Huxley satirizes so effectively. There were a number of places where I found myself chuckling, a number of places where I didn't understand what was going on and there were some that I found boring; nevertheless, for the most part I enjoyed the book - if only because in a couple of places he has some fun with writers and I enjoyed his wit. This isn't a novel for everyone. There is a plot of sorts but the pacing is pretty slow. The characters are interesting mostly for their foibles. There's a little character development but not much. Dialog frequently consists of long rambling speeches. I think the reader needs a good deal of patience to work his or her way through this one. Being almost a hundred years old makes quite a difference in literary style and unless one is prepared to invest some time, it might be wise to take a pass here. I would not recommend this for reading on the subway. However, if you like to see satire wielded not with a sword but with the finest of scalpels then this might be what you're looking for.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Peter Prentice

    So this is quite obviously a work of satire or as a practical joke written by Huxley, and it's a great read the whole way through, although I did grow tired of its length which spouted a single point, and the same one in many of his others' works, regarding the superficiality of the cultural elite. Would recommend reading some Woodsworth from which this is inspired.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Rahul

    Once again Mr. Huxley demonstrates a mastery in unmasking the absurdity and hypocrisy apparent in the human psyche. By decomposing a vast array of realistic and self-consisten characters, Huxley satirises not only the post-Victorian elite that were his contemporaries, but the very idea of human civilisation itself.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Leticia

    Que surpresa boa!!! Terceiro romance do Huxley é incrível, cheio de nuances, descrições completas e humanas e muita ironia por trás da burguesia...

  17. 4 out of 5

    solitaryfossil

    Some genuinely great writing from Huxley, thoroughly enjoyable reading. His skewering of the characters’ pomposity and snobbery was delightful.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Craig Masten

    An intriguing book that examines a variety of human characters, mainly staged in the setting of a rich woman's italian estate, but elsewhere too. The novel iexamines each of the main actors' lives from their private points of view and via the author's third person perspective. Huxley certainly indulges each at length with the slowness appropriate to spending a season as guests in a villa, but also in the manner most of our days pass anywhere. He certainly uses humor to spoof all the people in th An intriguing book that examines a variety of human characters, mainly staged in the setting of a rich woman's italian estate, but elsewhere too. The novel iexamines each of the main actors' lives from their private points of view and via the author's third person perspective. Huxley certainly indulges each at length with the slowness appropriate to spending a season as guests in a villa, but also in the manner most of our days pass anywhere. He certainly uses humor to spoof all the people in the book, but with sympathy for our common human condition at the same time. In the end he gives much to ponder about who we are and how we live and what we can make of it all. A hard to rate book. May depend upon how much you like to dive deep or pleasantly swim on the surface. Another sample of reading a book a second time, and what that can mean for us : Let me freely admit I’m a sucker for forgotten, sometimes out of print work by famous authors. “Those Barren Leaves” by Aldous Huxley is a book apparently quite unlike his famous novel “Brave New World” which posits a dystopian future. In this much less known novel, he examines from various perspectives the perhaps no less odious manners and personalities of his own times. It’s accomplished by means of relating the private personal histories, thoughts, actions and conversation of a group of vacationing people brought together in rather privileged circumstances as house guests in a palatial villa in an obscure part of Italy. It’s a commentary on the human condition told in this obscure hotbed of interactions, with intriguing observations by each from their own perspective, knowingly or unknowingly, of their character and their own and other’s lives. The author is always revealing, generally entertaining, more than a little amusing, and sometimes, perhaps ultimately in the end, profound. I was especially taken by his use of tellingly engaging conversation by each of the parties. Good conversation, in fact any meaningful conversation is nearly a lost art, but you’ll get your fill of heady discussions about life and art from many points of view, which by itself is an interesting plot conceit. It’s a book that took me awhile to digest, a few pages at a time, which is not such a bad thing in this case, I’ve decided. I once had a professor of comparative religions who said after he obtained his PhD he never completely read a book ever again. .He would just pick one up at random and begin reading until he came across something that interested him. Then he would stop to contemplate that little bit which might be lost by going on in the book. That’s what this novel encourages by letting each few pages resonate before continuing. Such novels as this, overshadowed as an author!s more famous work, are no less deserving. With patience you will discover its hidden, subtle, rewarding treasures.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Theresa Leone Davidson

    This is my first Huxley novel and I enjoyed it, particularly the descriptions of lovely Italy, where the story is set, and two of the characters, Lord Hovenden and Irene, make the story interesting, because they are likable and made me want to keep reading so I could find out what happens to them. Many of the other characters, particularly Lillian Aldwinkle and Miss Thriplow, are not at all sympathetic, and embody all of the worst traits a woman (especially) can possess. I am usually not crazy a This is my first Huxley novel and I enjoyed it, particularly the descriptions of lovely Italy, where the story is set, and two of the characters, Lord Hovenden and Irene, make the story interesting, because they are likable and made me want to keep reading so I could find out what happens to them. Many of the other characters, particularly Lillian Aldwinkle and Miss Thriplow, are not at all sympathetic, and embody all of the worst traits a woman (especially) can possess. I am usually not crazy about novels that feature really insipid and stupid, or really manipulative, female characters. Anyway, Those Barren Leaves (the title is from William Wordsworth's poem 'The Tables Turned') is set in a grand home in Italy's countryside, where several guests have come at the invitation of the home's owner, Mrs. Aldwinkle (Mr. Aldwinkle is never mentioned; Mrs. Aldwinkle is SO annoying one can only presume he ran off many moons ago), and a lot of little dramas play out between the characters, which is what makes the whole novel. There is no one overarching story, just a lot of smaller ones. There are also a lot of funny things that take place and make the novel more lighthearted. It is actually a great setting for an Agatha Christie-type murder to take place, which would have made the story somewhat better; still, I liked it and would recommend.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Kate

    "Q. And what will happen if I make myself aware, if I actually begin to think? A. Your swivel chair will turn into a trolley on the mountain railway, the office floor will gracefully slide away from beneath you and you will find yourself launched into the abyss." "The child, I thought, grows up to forget he is of the same flesh with his parents; but they do not forget. I wish, for her sake, that I were only five years old" "Simplicity is no virtue unless you are potentially complicated." "It is Dide "Q. And what will happen if I make myself aware, if I actually begin to think? A. Your swivel chair will turn into a trolley on the mountain railway, the office floor will gracefully slide away from beneath you and you will find yourself launched into the abyss." "The child, I thought, grows up to forget he is of the same flesh with his parents; but they do not forget. I wish, for her sake, that I were only five years old" "Simplicity is no virtue unless you are potentially complicated." "It is Diderot's paradox of the comedian, in real life; the less you feel, the better you represent feeling. But while the comedian on the stage plays only for the audience in the theatre, those in real life perform as much for an inward as an outward gallery; they ask for applause also from themselves and, what is more, they get it; though always, I suppose, with reservations." "It was a new kind of love. She abandoned herself to it with a fervour which she found, taking its temperature, very admirable. The flood of her passion carried her along; Miss Thriplow took notes of her sensations on the way and hoped that there would be more and intenser sensations to record in the future." HAHAHAHAHA "If loving without being loved in return may be ranked as one of the most painful experiences, being loved without loving is certainly one of the most boring."

  21. 4 out of 5

    saizine

    'And how long do you propose to stay?' 'I haven't the faintest idea.' 'Till you've got to the bottom of the cosmos, eh?' A fine example of Huxley's early work and very much what you'd call a philosophical novel. Character-driven satirical plot that is engaging despite the frequent lapses into theory and philosophizing. It should be said that Those Barren Leaves is more akin to Eyeless in Gaza than Brave New World, and perhaps a good indicator for if a you'd suit the style is if you also enjoy the w 'And how long do you propose to stay?' 'I haven't the faintest idea.' 'Till you've got to the bottom of the cosmos, eh?' A fine example of Huxley's early work and very much what you'd call a philosophical novel. Character-driven satirical plot that is engaging despite the frequent lapses into theory and philosophizing. It should be said that Those Barren Leaves is more akin to Eyeless in Gaza than Brave New World, and perhaps a good indicator for if a you'd suit the style is if you also enjoy the work of authors such as Iris Murdoch. It's also worth being aware that there's quite a bit of French and Italian to navigate, but I only have familiarity with the French and I didn't find the multilingual nature of the dialogue to be particularly confusing. Recommended for those interested in Huxley's early work and early twentieth century satire.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Skizelo

    Another of Huxley's early novels where he puts the boot into his friends. Like Antic Hey and Chrome Yellow it's another perpetual house-party thrown by a ghastly woman who collects artists like butterflies. You would think Lillian Aldwinkle, a smudge of a woman who you would think had to be a composite or pure invention, but was apparently a recognizable satire of Lady Ottoline Morrell. It's a bit broken-backed novel. There are false-starts, and it changes between satire and po-faced philosophy Another of Huxley's early novels where he puts the boot into his friends. Like Antic Hey and Chrome Yellow it's another perpetual house-party thrown by a ghastly woman who collects artists like butterflies. You would think Lillian Aldwinkle, a smudge of a woman who you would think had to be a composite or pure invention, but was apparently a recognizable satire of Lady Ottoline Morrell. It's a bit broken-backed novel. There are false-starts, and it changes between satire and po-faced philosophy without much success. It ends on a ten page discourse on the nature of reality which I can't imagine anyone being excited to read. It's pretty interesting to see the tension within Huxley made so obvious, but it's a pretty big failing in the book itself.

  23. 4 out of 5

    George Shetuni

    Those Barren Leaves by Aldous Huxley is as precise as a needle, but unfortunately, that’s it. His ever-skeptical attitude is only good when the subject matter and characters are too, but in this novel no issue, no insight, no argument, no character has stood out for any pleasantries - quite a disappointment in the face of Crome Yellow. The only good part was when Chelifer was recounting his affair with Barbara Waters, but that didn’t last a long time, and the rest of the book did. Huxley appears Those Barren Leaves by Aldous Huxley is as precise as a needle, but unfortunately, that’s it. His ever-skeptical attitude is only good when the subject matter and characters are too, but in this novel no issue, no insight, no argument, no character has stood out for any pleasantries - quite a disappointment in the face of Crome Yellow. The only good part was when Chelifer was recounting his affair with Barbara Waters, but that didn’t last a long time, and the rest of the book did. Huxley appears to be a sophisticated rambler who says dumb things in a smart way.

  24. 5 out of 5

    John

    A mixture of characters in Italy are staying at a mansion on the coast of a woman who believes herself to be of an artistic temperment. They are an old cynic, a younger cynic who writes for a rabbit journal, a youngish woman who considers herself sensitive, a young aristocrat and his communist friend, and a girl who adores the house owner. This is a satire of the artistic set in the avant-garde era. It appears to be too subtle for some readers. Many parts of this work were shamelessly ripped off b A mixture of characters in Italy are staying at a mansion on the coast of a woman who believes herself to be of an artistic temperment. They are an old cynic, a younger cynic who writes for a rabbit journal, a youngish woman who considers herself sensitive, a young aristocrat and his communist friend, and a girl who adores the house owner. This is a satire of the artistic set in the avant-garde era. It appears to be too subtle for some readers. Many parts of this work were shamelessly ripped off by George Orwell, particularly in the novel "Keep the Apisdistra Flying".

  25. 5 out of 5

    Quinn

    This book was set in Italy at takes place mostly in Mrs. Aldwinkle's mansion. She has several visitors who spent most of their time talking about life and their philosophies. They talked a lot about life and death, love, and money. I wouldn't really recommend this book to very many people because it was very difficult to read. It jumped around a lot between different people's point of views and beliefs. The entire novel didn't really have a beginning middle and end, but was more just a lot of be This book was set in Italy at takes place mostly in Mrs. Aldwinkle's mansion. She has several visitors who spent most of their time talking about life and their philosophies. They talked a lot about life and death, love, and money. I wouldn't really recommend this book to very many people because it was very difficult to read. It jumped around a lot between different people's point of views and beliefs. The entire novel didn't really have a beginning middle and end, but was more just a lot of beliefs.

  26. 5 out of 5

    David Lomas

    I have read Huxley's 3 earliest novels one after the other and still have appetite for more. Sharing the most extraordinary breadth of knowledge in a sparkling, effortless way I don't think these gems from the 1920's have aged. Possibly not the punchiest of plots or the most memorable distinct characters but still a persuasive account of the rootless cultural elite flailing about for a purpose in the aftermath of the first world war. Consistently enjoyable and very spirited, but with a continuin I have read Huxley's 3 earliest novels one after the other and still have appetite for more. Sharing the most extraordinary breadth of knowledge in a sparkling, effortless way I don't think these gems from the 1920's have aged. Possibly not the punchiest of plots or the most memorable distinct characters but still a persuasive account of the rootless cultural elite flailing about for a purpose in the aftermath of the first world war. Consistently enjoyable and very spirited, but with a continuing melancholy undertow.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Samantha

    The characters are supposed to be cariactures. However I found nothing satirical about the narcisistic, pretentious and pompous bunch of idiots. After a terrible incident, one of the characters fails to inform the victims family and then sits there meditating on the nature of the incident rather than feeling any remorse. Uttterly awful. Avoid.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Derek Daigle

    The Hux dishes out a smorgasbord of wisdom in this one. More of a philosophical satire than the dystopian future of 'Brave New World' which seems to be what most people were expecting based off half the reviews on this site. Kind of reminded me of 'Great Gatsby' in a way.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Grim-Anal King

    Relatively entertaining combination of metaphysical probing and mocking the pretentious. This the type of novel which would be horrendous were it attempted by an author as hamfisted as, say, Ayn Rand, so Huxley did a pretty good job.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Marci

    This is an outdated book. Huxley might have been trying to belittle the pettiness of social settings of his time. But it comes over as a meaningless tale about mean people with too much time on their names. I'll send it back into the time machine t

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