Huxley, Aldous: Eyeless in Gaza
(researched by John Nottingham)

Assignment 1: Bibliographical Description

1 First edition publication information (publisher, place, date, etc.)

Aldous Huxley. Eyeless in Gaza. New York and London: Harper & Brothers Publishers, 1936. Copyright: Aldous Huxley.

2 First edition published in cloth, paper, or both? If both, simultaneous or staggered?

First edition published in trade cloth binding.

3 JPEG image of cover art from first edition, if available

4 Pagination

473 leaves, pp.[6]1-473[474]

5 Edited or Introduced? If so, by whom?


6 Illustrated? If so, by whom?


7 JPEG image of sample illustration, if available

8 General physical appearance of book (Is the physical presentation of the text attractive? Is the typography readable? Is the book well printed?)

Readability is clear with sufficient margins. Pages are slightly discolored from age. Chapters are numbered and italicized. Chapters have no title but are dated. 83R. Page size: 203mm by 140mm. Text size: 127mm by 95mm.

9 JPEG image of sample chapter page, if available

10 Paper (Assess the original quality of the paper used for the book. Is the paper in the copy or copies you examined holding up physically over time?)

Wove paper, with an even texture. Cream-colored paper which is yellowing due to age. Paper stock is consistent throughout, excepting the endpapers which are grey, thicker and contain silver flecks. The paper is in good condition but there is a slight browning around the edges of each page.

11 Description of binding(s)

Front and back covers: Embossed Calico Grain cloth. Hue: Blue. Lightness: Brilliant (light, strong). Front cover is stamped (dark blue) and gilt with title and author's name. Spine is stamped and gilt in the same manner. Base of spine gilt with publisher's name. Endpapers are thick grey paper with silver flecks.

12 Transcription of title page

Recto: EYELESS IN GAZA|by|Aldous Huxley|[publisher's crest]| Harper & Brother Publishers|New York and London|1936 Verso:EYELESS IN GAZA|Copyright, 1936, by Aldous Huxley| Printed in the United States of America

13 JPEG image of title page, if available

14 Manuscript Holdings

15 Other (typograpical information from title page, etc.)

On the inside cover there is a sticker dedicating the book to the University of Virginia "From the Estate of Emily Clark Balch."

Assignment 2: Publication and Performance History

1 Did the original publisher issue the book in more than one edition? If so, briefly describe distinguishing features of each (illustrations, cover art, typography, etc.); if not, enter N/A

The original publisher, Harper and Brothers issued the book in sixteen editions.

2 JPEG image of cover art from one subsequent edition, if available

3 JPEG image of sample illustration from one subsequent edition, if available

4 How many printings or impressions of the first edition?

5 Editions from other publishers? If so, list their dates and publishers; if not, enter N/A

1936, 1938, 1949, 1950, 1955: Chatto & Windus 1936, 1954, 1957, 1961, 1972: Bantam Books 1936, 1977: Triad 1968: Heron Books 1962, 1965: Penguin Books 1975: Harper & Row 1975: The American Reprint Company 1989, 1995: Carroll & Graf 1994: Flamingo

6 Last date in print?

1995: Carroll & Graf

7 Total copies sold? (source and date of information?)

8 Sales figures by year? (source and date of information?)

9 Advertising copy (transcribe significant excerpts, briefly identify where ads were placed)

"Without a doubt this is Aldous Huxley's greatest novel. It is a long book, packed full with the brilliance, the wit, the savagery, the drama which have made Huxley one of the greatest novelists writing in any language today...The novel closes with a magnificent vision of human compassion and common understanding. For the bookseller who eyes the summer months doubtfully here is news: A sales-leader for the rest of the year!" --Advertisement from Publisher's Weekly 1st week of July, 1936

10 JPEG image of sample advertisement, if available

11 Other promotion

12 Performances in other media? If so, list media, date, title, production information; if not, enter N/A


13 Translations? If translated, give standard bibliographic information for each translation. If none, enter N/A

"La catena del passato: romanzo" Publisher: A.Mondadori 1950--Translation into Italian by Paola Ojetti. "Ciego en Caza" Publisher: La Nave 1948--Translation into Spanish by Fernando Calleja. "Con los esclavos en la noria" Publisher: Sudamericana 1937 Translation into Spanish by Julio Irazusta. "Vi blindede traelle" Publisher: Aschehoug 1969-- Translation into Danish by Einer Andersen. "Kaja eso nun i moro" Publisher: Hagwonsa 1985-- Translation into Korean by Kwan-sik Song. "Niewidomy w Ghazie" Publisher: Panstwowy Instytut Wydawniczy 1957--Translation into Polish. "Geblendet in Gaza, roman" Publisher: Deutsche Buch- Gemeinschaft 1964--Translation into German by Herlitschka. "Blind i Gaza" Publisher: Soderstrom & Co. Forlagsaktiebolag 1936--Translation into Finnish. "La paix des profondeurs" Publisher: Table Ronde 1976-- Translation into French.

14 Serialization? If serialized, give standard bibliographic information for serial publication. If none, enter N/A


15 Sequels/Prequels? Give standard bibliographic information for each. If none, enter N/A


Assignment 3: Biographical Sketch of the Author

1 Paste your biographical sketch here (maximum 500 words)

Aldous Leonard Huxley was born in Godalming, Surrey, England on July 26, 1894. His father was a schoolmaster and editor and his mother was a schoolmistress. Huxley's grandfather, Thomas Henry Huxley had been a famous scientist, and his granduncle, Mathew Arnold had been a renowned poet. These relations had an impact on Huxley's writing. David Cecil, in his tribute to the author, wrote: " Arnold had bequeathed to him a sensitive imagination soaked in the culture of the past, Huxley an adventurous scientific curiosity disciplined by a stern regard for truth." Huxley attended Eton College when he was thirteen. Eton was a school primarily for children from upper-middle-class backgrounds. In his sixteenth year, while studying at Eton, Aldous was stricken with a disease of the eyes which left him almost totally blind. He was forced to leave school and it was not until his eyesight improved that he continued his education. In 1913 he entered Balliol College, Oxford and he left in 1916 with an honors degree in English Literature. After being rejected for the British Army because of his poor eyesight, Aldous did his alternative service at Garsington (a noted literary salon near Oxford). It was here that he met his future wife Maria Nys. They married in 1919 and had a son Mathew in the following year. Aldous Huxley and his brothers were expected to attend Eton, Oxford and then pursue vocations in either medicine of science. Because of his vision problems, Aldous had to find other prospects. He had read intensely throughout his schooling and found that he enjoyed writing. His first novel Crome Yellow, a satire of British elite culture, was published in 1921. He received a lot of attention for his 1932 novel Brave New World, which offers a dark vision of a future utopia-dystopia. 1934 found Huxley among the most famous British novelists. Despite financial security and fame, the author was extremely unhealthy and was struggling to write Eyeless in Gaza. He had a two-book-a-year contract with Chatto & Windus and he had barely completed one. In 1936 Eyeless in Gaza was published to international acclaim. The book reflects Huxley's movement from a cynic to a mystic. The novel deals with a man's transformation from disenchantment to spirituality. In 1937, Huxley and his family moved permanently to the United States because of the stifling atmosphere of city life in England. Residing in Los Angeles, Huxley experimented with hallucinogenic drugs as means for mystical insight. He took part in scriptwriting in Hollywood and wrote a number of screenplays. He continued to write novels up until his death from cancer on November 22, 1963. Most of his papers were burned in a house fire in 1969. Material on Huxley can be found in the British Library, the New York Public Library, the University of California at Los Angeles Library, and at the University of Texas.

Assignment 4: Reception History

1 Paste contemporary reception history in here (maximum 500 words)

At the time of it's publication, reviews for Eyeless in Gaza were mixed. Some critics hailed Huxley's novel as true to life and extremely important. Other reviewers complained that the book did not make much sense and what sense it did make was not very compelling. A general criticism was raised by almost all critics; the novel's confusing organization reveals Huxley's lack of true novelist qualities. The New York Times Book Review represents how most critics praised the novel yet had serious misgivings about its construction. "In this book Aldous Huxley emerges a moralist, a believer in the efficacy of the spiritual life, in the necessity that one demand of oneself the achievement of the impossible. Peace for the individual, peace for the world itself, only through the individual exercise of love and compassion. That, in essence, is what Aldous Huxley has to say in this novel. And he has said it persuasively and well?As a novel, Eyeless in Gaza is more awkward technically-perhaps perversely so-than anything which Huxley has done. But in a man of his gifts, some of them, like his sure psychological sense and his remarkably acute powers of observation, of the utmost value to a novelist, this difficulty with the form of the novel, with which the art of telling a story, may largely be overlooked." Another critic explains that Huxley has created something worth reading but that it is not excellent, "A first reading made me aware that the book contains many brilliant scenes, but the roller-coaster progress left me breathless without having given me any thrill. A second reading, though it did not reconcile me to the method, enabled me to follow it more easily. Even so, I do not think this is a good novel except in spots; but let me add that there are very many spots." All critics agreed that Huxley was an intelligent and thoughtful writer. However, most felt that he was better to stick to the medium of essay-writing. Many reviewers did not think that he had the talents for good characterization and plot development. 1)NYTBR p.1 July 19, 1936 J. Donald Adams 2)Book Review Digest

2 Paste subsequent reception history in here (maximum 500 words)

In Francis Wyndham's essay on Huxley's role as a novelist, Eyeless in Gaza is used as an example of an imperfect work of art. The reviewer states that Huxley was not able to develop into as great an older writer as he was in his youth, "?brilliant young men must grow into brilliant middle-aged men?Mr. Huxley could not for ever maintain a position of gay and destructive criticism; a constructive remedy had to be proposed and the entertainer had to make room for the teacher. In his later novels, the feast of diversion spread before his readers is no less rich than before, but it has become slightly indigestible." Wyndham goes on to explain Huxley's progression as an author over time and claim that he was not successful in attaining his goals, "By the time Eyeless in Gaza was published in 1935 Mr. Huxley had become a disciple of Gerald Heard; and Anthony Beavis, the hero, hopes to find balm for his disgust with life in the teachings of the mysterious Miller?From now on, an increasing concern with mysticism was to take control of Mr. Huxley's life and work?" Why does this development, so boldly constructive and apparently so consistent, not entirely satisfy? A certain element in his treatment of what he thinks disgusting weakens, in his novels, the force of his striving towards what he thinks pure." "Among the incidents in Eyeless in Gaza which drive Anthony [Beavis] to Miller's contemplative comfort are three, also written in Mr. Huxley's best comic vein, which are well known: a dead dog is dropped from an aeroplane to burst over Anthony while he makes love on a roof; a schoolboy is interrupted while masturbating by his friends who jeer and throw things at him; a young girl pointlessly steals raw meat from a butcher's shop. All these episodes are comic, but not straightforwardly so; one laughs less with the author than at him for having invented them, and one suspects that he (a witty but humourless writer) only thinks them funny to the extent that, in various ways, they are potentially shocking. He seems, in fact, to be perpetually trying to shock himself by emphasizing the inadequacies of physical life, by pointing out that lovers look ridiculous when copulating, that the food we enjoy eating is revolting when raw and makes us belch and so on, but the shock results in titillation rather than rejection and disgust." 1)The London Magazine Aug. 1955 v.2 no.8 p.56-58

Assignment 5: Critical Analysis

1 Paste your critical analysis in here (maximum 2500 words)

Eyeless in Gaza, written in 1936, reflects people's concern for national and personal safety as well as their fears in regard to the meaning of life. Huxley presents a novel that deals with one man's quest for the validity of his existence in a seemingly pointless world. The novel moves from a skeptical view towards life to an acceptance of its vagaries and violence. Huxley's message consists of a way to live life spiritually and peacefully. The novel, at times pedantic, offers its readers a hopeful look at the world. In the nineteen twenties and thirties, Americans as well as the British were wary of international conflict because of the traumas inflicted by World War I. The novel attempts to assuage people's worries not by claiming that everything is fine but that one can live peacefully and his or her actions will be reflected in society and impact all nation's views toward war and violence in general. The Great Depression dealt a further blow to citizen's faith in government and many became disillusioned with life. Eyeless in Gaza offered its readers a spiritual path which, if followed, could lead them to salvation and freedom from fear and pain. Anthony Beavis, the hero of the novel, fits into a common category of characters that many writers of the nineteen twenties studied. Beavis is an egoist and a hedonist, bent primarily on the fulfillment of his sensual desires. The way to live life according to him is to not think about it too much and to avoid discomfort if at all possible. "Enquiry and exploration would land him in heaven knew what quagmire of emotion, what sense of responsibility. And he had no time, no energy for emotions and responsibilities?he went on stubbornly playing the part he had long since assigned himself-the part of the detached philosopher, of the preoccupied man of science who doesn't see the things that to everyone else are obvious" (EG p.3). Anthony, at this point in the novel knows that he avoids emotion and realizes that it may have some use but decides to stick to the habit of ignoring it. A problem that faces Beavis throughout the novel is summed up here "Like all other human beings, I know what I ought to do, but continue to do what I know I oughtn't to do" (EG p.9). Huxley seems to believe that this is one of the most pervasive issues facing all people. His hero, Anthony Beavis is presented many opportunities throughout his life to adopt others' ways but he does not do so until he has his own, very personal realization. Beavis, in adolescence, is positioned between three disparate visions of what one's life should consist of. His friend Brian's mother, Mrs. Foxe is extremely religious and Anthony considers her views as a possible outlet for his frustration at home. He lost his mother when he was about twelve and his father almost immediately remarried. Anthony's father represented a sensual being who was trapped in his own lust. Anthony rejected his father's way of life mainly because he saw him as a hypocrite. Just after his wife's death Anthony's father said to him, "We must stand together now, close together. Because we both?we both loved her?We'll always be true to her, never?never let her down?-will we?" (EG p.42). His family did not offer him any solutions for how to live happily. His fondness for Mrs. Foxe gave him a peek at his own compassion and also her religious stance affected Anthony. However, her radical views toward chastity and self-abnegation ultimately made her influence on Anthony fleeting. When Beavis entered high school, he came into contact with a group of boys who reveled in freedom from any type of restraint. Anthony did not shun their influence and began to look at the world skeptically and found ways of using it for his pleasure. He formed a relationship with Mary Amberley and, because of her pleasure-centered existence, Anthony viewed women as yet another means to sensual fulfillment. Upon graduation from college and his venture into middle-life, Anthony persisted in viewing his existence as random sets of occurrences. Beavis explains his view as such, "Somewhere in the mind a lunatic shuffled a pack of snapshots and dealt them out at random, shuffled once more and dealt them out in different order, again and again, indefinitely?The thirty-five years of his conscious life made themselves immediately known to him as a chaos-a pack of snapshots in the hands of a lunatic" (EG p.17). In this quote we can see two important facets of Beavis's life and how they contribute to his ultimate salvation. The fact that his life seems to have no order can help the reader to understand why he views life as pointless and seeks only physical, transitory pleasure. Also, the statement itself reveals that Beavis longs for some order to his life. He is not content with his confused existence. It is in this state of mind that prepares Beavis for his realization and development into a spiritual, fulfilled person. Two important factors which lead Anthony Beavis to spirituality exist in the realm of death. His friend Brian's suicide seems to have no large impact on his life even though Anthony was in part responsible for it (he betrayed their friendship by sleeping with Brian's fiancée). The repercussions of Brian's death become clear to Anthony when he sees a dead dog fall from an airplane and land bloodily near him; he recalls Brian's suicide plunge. Beavis's repulsion from blood and death trigger in him a desire to change his life. He meets a man named Miller who puts Anthony in touch with his fears and desires and aids him in attaining freedom from them. Huxley's developed description of the mystical ideas posited by Miller in the novel lead the reader to believe that Huxley has a claim in our acceptance of them. In the final chapter of the novel, Beavis thinks to himself about what he has learned from Miller. Anthony was encouraged to live life as a pacifist which meant a lot more than him simply disliking war. Huxley presents the idea of mutual thought as being crucial to the success of the human race. Miller taught Beavis that ideas and feelings can be reproduced from one mind to another. Beavis thinks to himself, "The mental pattern of love can be transferred from one mind to another and still retain its virtue?And not only love, but hate as well?Divisive emotions; but the fact that they can be interchanged, can be transferred from mind to mind and retain all their original passion, is a demonstration of the fundamental unity of minds" (EG p.467-8). This unity that Beavis speaks about is the ultimate goal of Miller's pacifism. He believes that by attempting to reconcile diverging ideas and emotions like love and hate, one can come close to achieving peace in one's life. Beavis thinks that "Affection, compassion-and also, meanwhile, this contemplative approach, this effort to realize the unity of lives and being with the intellect, and at last, perhaps, intuitively in an act of complete understanding. From one argument to another, step by step, towards a consummation where there is no more discourse, only experience, only unmediated knowledge, as of a colour, a perfume, a musical sound" (EG p.471). The ultimate goal in Beavis's eyes is for all people to communicate through a mutual, unified acceptance of love and peace. Huxley seems to be entreating his readers to look at Anthony Beavis's transformation and to emulate his thinking. Most readers of Eyeless in Gaza probably came to the novel with some knowledge of Huxley's work and ideas. Published three years before Eyeless, Brave New World caused a sensation in Europe and the United States. The novel's bleak look at the future captivated audiences. If readers were looking for a repeat of the 1932 novel, they were in for a surprise. Not only did Eyeless in Gaza end more optimistically, it also dealt with very contemporary issues. The generation of Huxley's characters and of his audience shared very similar histories. The conflict of World War I left many people nervous about international economics and policies. After the American depression these economic concerns were heightened. The fascist uprisings of Hitler and Mussolini struck a chord of fear into the hearts of many who retained faith in democracy. The readers of Eyeless found a suggestion of how to live life without giving up hope in themselves and the greater society. Sources: Huxley, Aldous. Eyeless in Gaza. Harper and Brothers, New York and London. 1936. Baker, Robert S. The Dark Historic Page: Social Satire and historicism in the Novels of Aldous Huxley. The University of Wisconsin Press, London 1982. Tripathy, Akhilesh Kumar. The art of Aldous Huxley. Students' Friends, 1974.

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