What did literary critics make of Aldous Huxley's novel in 1931?

What did literary critics make of Aldous Huxley's novel in 1931?

17 September 2015

by Nick Rice

Last week, the critics had their say on Dawn King's stage adaptation of Brave New World, but what was the initial response to Aldous Huxley's original novel in 1932?

Aldous Huxley's Brave New World is well known for its controversial nature. In 1932 when the novel was first published, it was banned in both Ireland and Austrailia for its portrayal of sexual promiscuity. In 2010, the novel was still atop of the American Library Association's list of books most wanted banned, placing number three. The response to Brave New World from critics, writers and commentators was largely negative. Here's just some of them:

H.G. Wells, English writer
‘Brave New World was a great disappointment to me. A writer of the standing of Aldous Huxley has no right to betray the future as he did in that book.’

Wydnham Lewis, English author,  1934
‘...an unforgivable offence to Progress and to political uplift of every description’

Margaret Cheney Dawson, Author
‘...a lugubrious and heavy-handed piece of propaganda’

New Statesman, 1932
‘...a thin little joke’

Alan Reynold Thompson, Professor, 1932
‘…let him be as savage as he likes, we sit easy in the knowledge that his Utopia is in no danger of materializing; his Utopians are perfectly impossible creatures’

Ralph Straus, Sunday Times 1932
‘I would regard it not only as a triumph of satirical writing, but as a highly moral tract. Ugly and depressing it may be, but nobody can read it without taking stock of himself, and of how many novels can that be said in this enlightened era of ours?'

Edith Wharton, Pulitzer Prize-winning American Novelist
'...a masterpiece of tragic indictment of our ghastly age of Fordian culture'

 

Brave New World premieres at Royal and Derngate, Northampton, where it runs from 4 to 26 September 2015. It then tours to Edinburgh, Blackpool, Nottingham, Cheltenham, Wolverhampton, Darlington and Bradford where it concludes on 5 December.