Crome Yellow (Vintage Classics) (英語) ペーパーバック – 2004/1/15
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One of the greatest prose writers and social commentators of the 20th century, Aldous Huxley here introduces us to a delightfully cynical, comic and severe group of artists and intellectuals engaged in the most free-thinking and modern kind of talk imaginable.
"Delightful. Crome Yellow is witty, worldly and poetic" (The Times)
"I find it hard to keep my enthusiasm for Crome Yellow within decent bounds. It is at once irresistibly funny and shrewd in its criticisms of daily life" (Daily Express)
"With a strong, delightful and admirable talent for caricature, Huxley is at his entertaining best in his grimaces at modern movements and at the ridiculous earnestness of the young" (Observer)
"The tone of Huxley's story matches the title: it is a rich, full yellow which suggests the exhilarating glow of summer" (Times Literary Supplement)
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Huxley's first novel, written in imitation of such books as Headlong Hall and South Wind.
A country visit is the occasion for the wine and conversation to flow freely- thus, the fledgling poet Denis, the older intellectual, Scogan, somewhat past his prime, Wimbush, the antiquarian, who has some pretty entertaining accounts of his ancestors (really just short stories- like many a first novel, it has the flavor of a "Collected Works.")
I'd even call it a 'young adult' novel, insofar as the protagonist, Denis, is preoccupied with his lack of success with women. Of course, it would be for young adults studying for their SATs- I counted five 'SAT words' in one sentence at one point:
"... For the sake of peace and quiet Denis had retired earlier on this same afternoon to his bedroom. He wanted to work, but the hour was a drowsy one, and lunch, so recently eaten, weighed heavily on body and mind. The *meridian* demon was upon him; he was possessed by that bored and hopeless *post-prandial* melancholy which the *coenobites* of old knew and feared under the name of "accidie."
(Note that he solves the problem with something unavailable to the 'coenobites of old,' namely gin.)
My favorite 'set piece' in this assemblage of set pieces, one I remember well from twenty years ago, is Denis explaining to Scogan how poetical and marvelous the word 'carminative' seemed until, using it in a poem, he has to look up the meaning.
"... And now"—Denis spread out his hands, palms upwards, despairingly—"now I know what carminative really means."
"Well, what DOES it mean?" asked Mr. Scogan, a little impatiently.
"Carminative," said Denis, lingering lovingly over the syllables, "carminative. I imagined vaguely that it had something to do with carmen-carminis, still more vaguely with caro-carnis, and its derivations, like carnival and carnation. Carminative—there was the idea of singing and the idea of flesh, rose-coloured and warm, with a suggestion of the jollities of mi-Careme and the masked holidays of Venice. Carminative—the warmth, the glow, the interior ripeness were all in the word. Instead of which..."
You can tell he was still figuring out how to write a novel. Some parts kind of drag along, and I was tempted to skip some passages. So overall, it's good for an easy, witty, medium-length read and a look at the author's early prose years.
Each of the characters is caught up in trivialities and long-winded discussions on topics wherein nothing is solved but everything is reiterated incessantly, wrapped up in a more impressive bow. The interests range from Cubism ("the purest of art") to astrology/New Age Spirituality to meal journals of antiquated manor residents. They are each played to hilarious hyperbole and make for very humorous reading.
As I said, the plot is scant and outside of a couple hints at romance and forbidden love there is little to motivate these characters as they meander around Crome. This will be a deterrent for some, but I found that it worked for this largely character-driven story.
I got this for free for my Kindle, and the formatting was great. I am unsure of a few points; whenever a character breaks into verse, for instance, there are no line breaks. The poem runs as prose, though the beginning of a new line is marked by capitalization. Not a deal-breaker, but inconvenient. Navigation from chapter to chapter is not present here, so bookmark often if this will be a long read.
For a free book by someone who at this point was testing his ability to write satire, it is a fun read.
**Keep a lookout for one digressive monologue which foreshadows Huxley's later work Brave New World!
We have unrequited love, the 'cad', the women who are- beautiful, strange, beguiling and weird. The master of the house is delightfully eccentric and the house "Crome" has a story itself.
This is Huxley's first book but the ideas for 'Brave New World' are already being thought through and discussed here.
This is a short read but Huxley gives you much to think about .
Crome Yellow, despite being his first book, is precisely what one expects from Huxley. The book itself is a satire on the daily life of his time, and the characters are in a way caricatures of the people you would expect to find in the early part of the 20th century. There is Denis, whose love of all things literary complicates his romantic endeavors. There is Mary, who wishes for something the holiday home cannot fulfill and works to escape the tedium and expectations of the everyday. There is Anne, who is entirely too aware of herself and trapped between tradition and desire. And there is Old Henry Winbush, a long-winded fellow who embodies the spirit of the age: elaborate parties, long speeches, and a pressing need to teach everyone what "wisdom" he has collected over his years.
Together, this cast of characters spends the holidays in the town of Chrome, and despite the hopes of some, the only things which don't change are the ones that need to change the most.
It is a bit unpolished and slow in places, but it is still a good piece of Huxley's work.