Monday, 8 November 1999

Aldous Huxley: Point Counter Point (1928)

Edition: Albatross
Review number: 383

Point Counter Point is about contrasts (hence the title) as well as Huxley's perennial themes of dehumanisation and futility in the modern world. It is full of mismatched couples, people committed to psychological and political opposites. It is one of Huxley's longest novels, and is full of philosophical argument.

There is no single central character. Rather, it is about a dozen or so equally important people, vaguely connected through mutual acquaintance. They are mainly English upper class, though popular politics is an important part of the novel. It is set in the thirties, possibly the heyday of extremism in British politics, and includes both Fascist and Communist characters.

The plot is virtually non-existent; this is a novel of ideas, of characters. The events that happen - deaths, affairs, separations - are there to parade a series of people before the reader, to show us their differences. It is superbly written, and rather more subtle than (say) Brave New World. The philosophical discussions, mainly revolving round the question of whether human beings are purely mechanistic of whether there is more to life than that, have dated somewhat, but are at the core of the contrasts which are the heart of the novel.

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