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Antic Hay

3.45  ·  Rating Details ·  1,347 Ratings  ·  100 Reviews
Antic Hay is one of Aldous Huxley's earlier novels, and like them is primarily a novel of ideas involving conversations that disclose viewpoints rather than establish characters; its polemical theme unfolds against the backdrop of London's post-war nihilistic Bohemia. This is Huxley at his biting, brilliant best, a novel, loud with derisive laughter, which satirically scof ...more
Paperback, 352 pages
Published May 4th 2005 by Kessinger Publishing (first published 1923)
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Aug 31, 2012 B0nnie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
My men, like satyrs grazing on the lawns,
Shall with their goat-feet dance the antic hay
Edward II by Christopher Marlowe

Brenda Salkeld

This is Brenda Salkeld dancing the antic hay. Orwell had recommended Antic Hay to her in the 1930s, but alas she wouldn't dance with him.

Huxley wanted to dance with Nancy Cunard but she likened his advances to being crawled over by slugs.
Nancy Cunard & slug

So he crawled away and he wrote this zany and very smart satire.

The characters Myra Viveash and Theodore Gumbril
Mar 30, 2013 Ursula rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 1001-books, england
I'm finding out that just reading Brave New World in high school doesn't really give you any sense of what sort of an author Aldous Huxley was.

Antic Hay is a novel about, essentially, the Lost Generation and their feelings of disaffection and uncertainty in the wake of World War I. A satire, it is at times just poking a bit of fun, at times jabbing viciously. The themes are pretty timeless: disillusionment, the experience of feeling adrift in the world, wondering if what you've wanted for yours
One senses that Huxley was aiming for a little mordant social satire when he wrote this book, to capture the Zeitgeist while landing a few deft jabs at British society in the aftermath of World War I. But "Antic Hay" is a clunky, sorry mess, whose primary virtue is its brevity. Heavyhanded and confused, it never gels to anything even remotely memorable.

Not too hard to figure out why. There is no discernible plot - instead, various stock characters are dragged in and out of the action, essentiall
Aug 28, 2016 Barbara rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
There were a lot of interesting passages in this book and plenty of funny wordplay. It really gave the sense of the post WW1 period, when nothing seemed to have much meaning. Gumbril has a real chance at love but allows it to pass, choosing to spend time with Mrs. Viveash instead. His big scheme for inflatable trousers doesn't quite succeed either. Myra Viveash is trapped in the past, Lypiatt is the victim of his own enthusiastic mediocrity, Rosie mistakes temporary amusement for meaningful rela ...more
Vit Babenco
Apr 14, 2013 Vit Babenco rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A mad world exists for those who dare to have mad dreams… And they dance through their lives trying to invent, to love, to find happiness and their dance is called Antic Hay.
“Most lovers picture to themselves, in their mistresses, a secret reality, beyond and different from what they see every day. They are in love with somebody else – their own invention. And sometimes there is a secret reality; and sometimes reality and appearance are the same. The discovery, in either case, is likely to cause
Jun 24, 2016 Nigeyb rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
My Vintage Classics edition of Antic Hay describes it as “wickedly funny” and perhaps, to those reading it around 1923, when it was first published, this social satire seemed the height of hilarity. Then again, perhaps not...

The plot, such as it is, is merely a device for Aldous Huxley to convey different viewpoints. The lack of any real story is, for a work of fiction, a serious limitation, and one I struggled with. Additionally, a classical education, and some familiarity with French and Lati
Jan 26, 2011 Stephanie rated it really liked it
Shelves: from-library
Huxley was the first author I picked up when I ventured out of the YA section at 11 or so. I'm not sure if this is why I enjoy his writing so much.

This book may initially fool you into thinking it's a journey from start to finish, but about 3/4 way through, it becomes apparent that it's more about building a situation and developing character (especially the latter). As with other Huxley the conversations are carefully crafted and more intelligent than those of us 21st century folk, with lots o
Jennifer W
Aug 07, 2016 Jennifer W rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Well, I haven't the foggiest idea what all that was, but it's over now.
Dec 29, 2015 Peter rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favourites, reviews
If Antic Hay escapes uncastigated and unpilloried the effect upon English fiction will be disastrous...We shall have herds of literary rats exploring ever sewer...The cloacre of vice will be dredged for fresh infamies...The novel will creep and crawl with the vermin of diseased imaginations. (Review in The Sunday Express, 25 Nov. 1923)

The Sunday Express may not have been fulsome in its praise, but Antic Hay is a fine novel, with a wonderful mixture of classical erudition and lost generation low
Nov 05, 2010 Bruce rated it liked it
Huxley is in that category of writers I don't really find very satisfactory for the most part, but who possess some quality I enjoy. His novels are very readable, often intellectually scintillating, contain superb satire, and eventually come to a point where the wry, sardonic tone is abandoned for serious empathy with the plight of at least one character.

This is an early effort with all of the above qualities, but in fairly small quantities -- kind of a Brave New World-lite. It is, by the way, m
Apr 02, 2009 Elizabeth rated it really liked it
I read this book because Lois Gordon's excellent biography of Nancy Cunard cites it. Huxley apparently had a brief liason with Cunard and then made her a character in this book. I wish I could recognize the other players, all of whom were given absurd and suggestive names in Antic Hay. (Cunard is Mrs. Viveash.) It's largely satirical, and in equal measure bilious and hilarious. The writing is sharp and vivid, but the overall tone suggests the depth of disillusion that resulted from the disaster ...more
Partha Banerjee
Jun 29, 2012 Partha Banerjee rated it it was amazing
The first great novel of Huxley dealing with the disenchantment of affluent Britain with all kinds of belief systems leading to utter wastefulness and decadence. Huxley carefully dissects the idle pursuits that consume the rich and the famous, their boredom with everything, the lack of any meaning in their lives and the concomitant chaos that ensues.
Dec 02, 2010 Maxine rated it it was ok
Once I had finished reading Antic Hay I wasn't really sure what it had all been about. The title Antic Hay is from a quote from Edward II by Christopher Marlowe and refers to a playful dance. I thought it would be the name of a character and was waiting all the time for him to turn up!

The writing was very good, but I guess you would really need to have moved in the circles described to fully appreciate what he was getting at. The book was controversial when first published due to its sexual ref
Katie Muffett
Jan 30, 2008 Katie Muffett rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: only those who are unafraid of facing the potential fatuousness of their own self-importance
I usually reference Huxley for philosophy, but I gained more of social economy and cultural commentary from this novel. It's tiny and compact and sweet. Huxley uses the anti-hero canon (in the form of Gumbril Junior) as a perfect foil to the waning, dissolute gilt of post WWI Britain. I fell for Emily hard, even if no one else did. Give her a kiss from me, Aldous.
John Millard
Nov 24, 2016 John Millard rated it really liked it
Took a while to read so it seemed to drag a bit. This was amusing and a bit similar to Crome Yellow in it's making fun of conventions of social niceties which are often rooted in ridiculous efforts of older folk trying to keep youth from enjoying themselves. It is interesting to see that such silliness of ego and romantic fantasy and foibles existed in the early part of the last century as they did in my youth of the 1980's. Fun book but dated in parts. I imagine it would be more enjoyable if I ...more
May 22, 2016 Gina rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Not my favorite Huxley - it seemed almost generic? Or maybe dated? Huxley writes about the lost generation in a way that I've seen before. Their cynicism, their grossness wasn't new to me - and it wasn't interesting. The satire was too biting. It bit me off of the book.

Of course, I am rating this book in comparison to the others I've read. I am harsh because I know Huxley can do better (and he does). Crome Yellow, Huxley's first novel, has a lightness about it that makes up for the missing core.
Jun 30, 2016 Val rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The antic hay is a dance with humorous and bacchanalian connotations, mentioned in the play "Edward II" by Christopher Marlowe. Antic Hay is a satirical social comedy about a group of bright no-longer-young things who meet, have affairs, circle round each other, part and form new configurations. Like the dance, the characters actions and interactions never really lead to anything.
The main character is Gumbril, who gives up his teaching post when he has an idea for an invention while sitting on t
Seth Holler
After five chapters: Coleman is not a success. He might have been; some blasphemous rakes are. Lypiatt, the would-be Artist, has interesting possibilities, though.

After finishing: The novel is a jumble. The five men from the dinner club (Chapter 4), recipients of particular description, nearly disappear. The protagonist Gumbril's invention, hinted in the first pages, appears to start driving the plot, but then it peters out. The remaining chapters turn on Gumbril's various romantic adventures, d
Book Wormy
Jun 27, 2014 Book Wormy rated it liked it
Shelves: 1001-read, bw-tbr
Antic Hay Aldous Huxley

Having read Brave New World I approached this book expecting to find the same sort of genius and compelling story telling only to be sadly let down.

Antic Hay is firmly set in its time frame and location of post war London and while it is a social commentary there is no dystopian world to rail against or a decent character to support.

The characters are largely from the artistic set and know each other by association rather than friendship, the men are vain, self ob
"O supremo negativismo da época que sucedeu a Primeira Guerra Mundial é retratado neste livro, com a agudeza que caracteriza o alto espírito do seu autor."

Não foi um livro que gostasse particularmente. Achei-o cansativo e por isso, não o terminei. Vou agarrar nele mais tarde.

Este livro era do meu irmão. Encontrei-o perido no armário e comecei a lê-lo, pelo que percebi, também ele não o terminou (encontrei o separador na página 119. Não avancei muito mais do que isso - fiquei pelo capítulo XI.

A h
Joselito Honestly and Brilliantly
Year is 1922, place is in England. The book itself was first published in 1923. Humorous and satirical. Principal character is Theodore Gumbril, a quiet, withdrawn teacher who, "like an apocalypse" or a "divine inspiration" thought of creating (and going to business with) his "Gumbril's Patent Small Clothes" which, as I imagined it to be, is like a baggy pants with lots of air so that when you sit, you sit on air and not on whatever hard object you are sitting on. Aping a friend, he also thought ...more
Sep 05, 2009 Anthony rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Barely just a story about Theodore Gumbril, Jr.'s pneumatic trousers (after all, the mass production and advertising scheming of Boldero the VC never came through), or quitting the academe to join London's Merry Pranksters, but about a cast of Henry Miller forebears chasing tails (their own and others) and abandoning conventionality - architectural, sexual, sexual archetypal... Huxley's characters are more fluid than his Brave New World'ers, obviously, after all they pulse serum and sputum, not ...more
Aug 03, 2012 Jcon4307justin rated it really liked it
I don't know if post-WWI Britain was like the 80s but this book sure reminded me of one of those Bret Easton Ellis books. Vacuous characters living these superfluous lives, floating from stimulation to stimulant (booze and romance here vs cocaine and sex in B.E.E.).

There were whole scenes/sections that felt borrowed from American Psycho. Pretentious characters self-awarely engaging in trivial chatter in posh restaurants. Obsession with current fashions in art, fashion, food.

I guess it was suppos
Antic Hay is the irreverent and comedic novel depicting London’s elite in the 1920s. While the protagonist is primarily educator Theodore Gumbril Junior, the story follows motley crew of self-absorbed, directionless characters: Mercaptan, the intellectual, Lypiatt, the failing artist, Coleman the hedonist, Shearwater a physiologist, Myra Viveash, the siren/muse, and a host of other smaller characters.

There’s not much plot to this book. It has been described as a “kind of dance” and indeed this s
Aiko Akers
Jul 02, 2010 Aiko Akers rated it it was amazing
Post WWI London is a fascinating era. It was the first time the world had been ripped apart on such a large scale with such explosive and novel violence, and this book is both a portrait and a parody of the efforts of the youth of the time to establish their identities in the era of relative calm and prosperity that followed. They struggle with nihilism, hedonism, heroism, idealism, communism, capitalism. Some ere on the side of giving too much import to everything, while to others everything is ...more
Jan 17, 2016 Beverly rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 1001-bymrbyd
I'm still trying to decide if I liked this or not. There were parts that I thought were really funny,but for me, the characters were so self-centered that I had a difficult time identifying with them. Theodore Gumbril has decided that he needs to figure out a way to ease the discomfort of sitting so much and so comes up with the idea of "pneumatic trousers" (think fitted whoopie cushion). He leaves his teaching job, goes to the big city and falls in with a crowd of self-centered, pleasure seekin ...more
Nov 30, 2013 Pedro rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Muitos críticos o comparam ao The Great Gatsby, mas eu considero que está a um nível inferior. Sendo este o segundo livro de Huxley, eu esperava uma melhoria. Infelizmente, considero que está pior. Comecemos pela estrutura: as primeiras páginas fazem antever uma história sobre as calças pneumáticas do senhor Gumbril Jr., contudo, a história não se foca nisso, nem sequer nele. A perspectiva muda de personagem sem qualquer aviso e a narrativa não parece ter outro propósito que não o de escarnecer ...more
Feb 02, 2016 Pip rated it really liked it
4.5 stars.
Antic Hay is a rollicking romp through post-World War I London, after "The War to End All Wars". The Roaring Twenties was a time when "Anything Goes" and Huxley satirises the Book of Common Prayer, the pretensions of the art world, literary criticism, education and sexual politics through his world weary, amoral, insouciant characters, whose declamations of their ideas are couched in words dripping with allusion. The hopelessness of their lives in the aftermath of the war is disguised
Much more like a book of arguments against the upper-middle and middle-class post WWI than a novel. Lost generation noobs wander the wilds of religious and philosophical thought/theory in vain attempt to find meaning or just social status, only to locate no less than empty, plastic shells. "Plenty of noise there was, and gesticulation and a violent galvanized twitching; but no life, only the theatrical show of it."
All this and I never culled from this beautiful barrage the fate of those pneumat
Feb 08, 2011 Stephen rated it liked it
This book wasn't one of Huxley's best but at times it was extremely entertaining. One of the most satirical books I've read from Huxley but also the most random. The plot was pretty loose, but it seems that wasn't the point of the book; it was more of an exploration on why people act the way they do and how the rest of the world perceives them, commenting how some people act the part but have no substance behind the act.
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Aldous Leonard Huxley was an English writer and one of the most prominent members of the famous Huxley family. He spent the latter part of his life in the United States, living in Los Angeles from 1937 until his death in 1963. Best known for his novels and wide-ranging output of essays, he also published short stories, poetry, travel writing, and film stories and scripts. Through his novels and es ...more
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“Perhaps it's good for one to suffer. Can an artist do anything if he's happy? Would he ever want to do anything? What is art, after all, but a protest against the horrible inclemency of life?” 47 likes
“...‘I am interested in everything,’ interrupted Gumbril Junior.
‘Which comes to the same thing,’ said his father parenthetically, ‘as being interested in nothing.”
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