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Ape and Essence

3.74  ·  Rating Details  ·  2,972 Ratings  ·  177 Reviews
In February 2108, the New Zealand Rediscovery Expedition reaches California at last. It is over a century since the world was devastated by nuclear war, but the blight of radioactivity and disease still gnaws away at the survivors. The expedition expects to find physical destruction but they are quite unprepared for the moral degradation they meet. Ape and Essence is Huxle ...more
Paperback, 222 pages
Published August 1st 1992 by Ivan R. Dee Publisher (first published 1948)
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1984 by George OrwellThe Hunger Games by Suzanne CollinsBrave New World by Aldous HuxleyFahrenheit 451 by Ray BradburyThe Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood
136th out of 895 books — 2,268 voters
Brave New World by Aldous HuxleyThe Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood1984 by George OrwellDo Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? by Philip K. DickStranger in a Strange Land by Robert A. Heinlein
Earth Is Room Enough--On-Planet SF
85th out of 160 books — 64 voters

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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Arielle Walker
Though I adored Brave New World, and therefore considered myself familiar with its famous author, I had never even heard of Ape and Essence before stumbling across it on one of the dustier shelves in the local library. Never again will I make the mistake of relegating an author to the "one-book-wonder" list. This little 150 page book is so utterly bizarre, eerie, beautiful and perfect that from the very first reading it has leapt straight into my list of all-time favourites.

Brave New World make
Jan 29, 2008 Andy rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: DEVO fans, 1930's musical fans, sci-fi Hollywood types
While I was reading this book I laughed and realized this is where DEVO got all their shit from. Huxley, back in the 1930's said (in this brilliant novel) that while we technologically advance we will behave more and more like crazed apes..."The Truth Behind De-Evolution". I'm sure the Mothersbaugh and Casale Brothers read this book more than a few times when they attended Kent State in Ohio.

Huxley switches time span gears like crazy, veering from a Darwinian 1930's Busby Berkeley musical to a
I hold Huxley in such high regard- both for Brave New World, and for his series of lectures which broadly outline the "scientific dictatorship" his brother Julian spent a lifetime working on, at the behest of robberbarons and technocrats. For these reasons alone, I gave Ape and Essence a try, but I can't honestly recommend that you do the same.

Ape and Essence is the 1948 followup to Brave New World. "Followup" is a nice, ambiguous word to use, because it isn't a sequel to BNW, but the story coul
[All chanting]:
Give me Detumescence.
Give me Detumescence.
Give me Detumescence.
In a post-apocalyptic world destroyed by the nefarious nationalistic exploitation of science, Huxley offers up a supremely hilarious post-apocalyptic satire. In Los Angeles, a new religion has arisen where the Devil (as Belial) has substituted God, while maintaining all other aspects of today's structured institutions of faith. Using this simple device, he penetratingly skewers organized religion more effectively than
Alex Akesson
Apr 11, 2013 Alex Akesson rated it it was amazing
Shelves: re-reading
Re-reading my precious 1st edition

page 51 "Fear also casts out intelligence, casts out goodness, casts out all thought of beauty and truth. What remains in the bum or studiedly jocular desperation of one who is aware of the obscene Presence in the corner of the room and knows that the door is locked, that there aren’t any windows. And now the thing bears down on him. He feels a hand on his sleeve, smells a stinking breath, as the executioner’s assistant leans almost amorously toward him. “Your
Nov 27, 2015 Jay rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: apocalypse-now
"The leech's kiss, the squid's embrace, the prurient ape's defiling touch. And do you like the human race? No, not much."

I read this book in high school after I had finished Brave New World. Almost back to back. "Ape and Essence" is a story-within-a-story, a screenplay written by one of the semi-autobiographical characters. The screenplay is rescued from the Hollywood reject bin, and after the finders find the author on his desert hacienda, the screenplay then becomes the novel. The quote, above
Nov 20, 2011 Mark rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction
Well if Hux were around to day perhaps he'd be amazed how close we're coming to this (less well-known than BNW) negative Utopia. In a world where crotchless thongs are marketed to 9-year- olds, college coaches (as well as priests) sodomize boys-not-yet-men, women advertise themselves via the internet promising no more than a cooling effluvia of ejaculata, and countless millions of might-have-been love stories are food for salt, blood, and tears; it might not be such a far stretch to conclude hi ...more
Erik Graff
Jun 25, 2014 Erik Graff rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Huxley fans
Recommended to Erik by: Erin S.
Shelves: sf
After reading Brave New World while still in the public schools, either in junior or senior high, I went into a Huxley phase, purchasing and reading his Brave New World Revisited, Island, The Devils, Heaven and Hell, The Doors of Perception and this one, Ape and Essence. Pulling it out of the bookshelf in my room more than once during high school, I repeatedly replaced it unread, the theatrical elements of it putting me off. Recently, however, several other Huxley nonfiction works having been re ...more
Dec 06, 2012 Jonathon rated it it was amazing
Awesome book. Heres some quotes....actually, fuck it, im too lazy to add them. Read the book you lazy ass....its short, so dont worry...Also, usually I agree with the reviews on "" but most of Huxley works are given three stars here??? Duh-fuck is wrong with you all! Dude's a fuckin genius!
OK, that's enough elitism for today...


Un romanzo un po’ datato, poiché è stato scritto nel 1948, ma attualissimo per le tematiche, che affronta, e gli spunti di riflessione, che offre.
Lo stile di Aldous Huxley in LA RIVALSA DELLE SCIMMIE è coinvolgente. Il libro è per lo più un romanzo breve, considerato il numero di pagine. È ambientato nella Hollywood del 1948, quando Bob Briggs, scrittore e regista, ritrova casualmente il soggetto scartato per un film, dal titolo omonimo a quello del romanzo in questione: "La rivalsa delle scimmi
Nov 30, 2013 Jordan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Misanthropes and Sex Addicts
Recommended to Jordan by: A Beneficent Stranger
A literate neighbor (they do exist, I have one!) left a library-bound edition of this incredible novella on the console table in my building's hallway, and I wish I could thank the fuck out of them. Holy shit.

On a scale from The Handmaid's Tale to Rosemary's Baby, this book lands somewhere in the middle, and deserves a place on your shelf next to your dogeared copy of Brave New World.

Two screenwriters discuss their mistresses and their miseries in Hollywood before stumbling across a rejected s
I'm honestly not sure what to feel about this book. The first thing to note is that it's not nearly as accessible as Brave New World. It's much less straight forward, more surreal, and sometimes I felt that a thesaurus vomited on a few pages of it. It's not an easy book to follow, and there were some parts I really didn't understand until I started reading about it online.

However, once you get into the swing, and you figure out who's doing what (I had to go back and reread a few times to sort s
Apr 26, 2009 Christina rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Fans of 1984, Faranheit 451, rabblerousers...
I loved this book! So many reasons why, but the most obvious reason being the fact that it took place in a post-apocalyptic world where people were supressed and controlled by those in charge. I cannot even tell you how many times I have read books with the same theme and I am still enthralled every single time. Huxely puts a good small irony at the ending which makes it worth the quick read. And the having the story within the story is an excellent difference too. I can see the similarities bet ...more
Jan 07, 2016 Mike rated it it was amazing
Shelves: books-owned
“The leech's kiss, the squid's embrace,
The prurient ape's defiling touch:
And do you like the human race?
No, not much.”

The above quote comes in the opening pages of Ape and Essence, one of the most viciously cynical works of fiction I've ever read. The setting of the frame narrative is "the day of Gandhi's murder," which sets the tone for this pessimistic and misanthropic gem. As with some of Huxley's other writings, I get the impression that Huxley is brilliant-bordering-on-mad. He clearly expr
Jan 24, 2014 Elizabeth rated it it was amazing
Recommended to Elizabeth by: Jordan
Imagine, if you will, a Rod Serling adaptation of an Aldous Huxley dystopia in which Captain Kirk falls in love/lust with a fetching victim of an oppressive Satanic society in which women are viewed as the "vessels" of all the filth and monstrosities of a post-apocalyptic world. Imagine it set in the remains of Los Angeles, which is viewed through the lens of a New Zealander, in turn viewed through the lens of two movie industry employees reading a dead misanthrope's script.

Yeah, it is that cra
Tony Gleeson
Aug 30, 2009 Tony Gleeson rated it liked it
Aldous Huxley is somewhat of an acquired literary taste-- I never cared for "Brave new World" as much as many of my compatriots. But I felt I finally owed myself to read this after promising to do so for decades. "Ape and Essence" has been called Huxley's re-thinking of "Brave New World" in the light of Hiroshima. It's a dystopian fantasy of America post-nuclear holocaust, presented in the charming form of a screenplay. The prelude to the actual story is a sardonic scene involving two Hollywood ...more
Mar 10, 2011 Emily rated it liked it
Two motion picture executives stumble across a screenplay in the lot. The majority of the book is the text of that document. It is about a future era, post World War III, when the residents of Southern California worship the devil and sex is outlawed except for two weeks once per year. The resulting infants are increasingly more deformed due to radiation fallout. The action of the 'film' seems to be mostly an excuse to espouse the philosophy that human kind, following the Second World War were i ...more
Cristina Jinga
Jun 04, 2013 Cristina Jinga rated it really liked it
A dystopian landscape as a pretext for maxims and witty(-bitter) remarks about Civilization (history, art, politics, faith, science, progress, greediness, human/ape nature, purposes and meanings) - what I love most in Huxley's writings are the easiness of associations and the unexpected comparisons. And this "essay" ('cause the characters are stereotypes and the storyline is a schematic demonstration - only the framework) is a collection of ranting definitions:

"What we call knowledge is merely a
Apr 02, 2009 Nam rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: weirdos
Ape and Essence (Harper and Row, NYC, 1948)

I didn't even know that Aldous Huxley had written this. Found it on a 25 cent cart at the hospital while at work. As per Huxley it deals with utopian or not, approaches to futuristic concepts. Not really Sci-Fi but take a Brave New World, for instance. I personally have always loved Doors of Perception, however this book is short, inspiring and challenging in its picture of human (de)volution. One idea that I had never thought of, within a survivalist c
Mar 28, 2013 Laurent rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Deux personnages ramassent un scénario dans lequel un narrateur raconte l'histoire d'un scientifique Néo-Zélandais qui en 2108 (re)découvre en Californie les dernier humains survivants de l'apocalypse dominés par un peuple de babouins.
Les niveaux de récit se succèdent sans se nourrir les uns des autres, ce qui nuit à la lisibilité de l'ensemble. En résumé, un roman à tiroir qui aurait dû rester dedans.
A noter un message écologique certes très actuel, mais qui ne l'était pas en 1948 au moment de
Apr 06, 2016 Jim rated it really liked it
The problem with Ape and Essence is its author wrote Brave New World. It was published during the same year as Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four and there’s really no competition there. If ever a book was destined to become a “forgotten classic” this was it. It was a book of its time—a serious author’s response to Hiroshima—but that doesn’t mean it’s past its time. Perhaps we’re not as afraid of nuclear was now as we were in the fifties and sixties but the bombs are still there and the threat is sti ...more
Sam Dye
Jun 17, 2014 Sam Dye rated it it was amazing
I was told by a best friend of 55 years that to remain his friend I would have to read this book! We had been discussing the need for different cultures to seek a Godlike personage to worship/fear.

"Even in the old days, when manpower and machinery were plentiful, people had failed to do what was necessary to preserve the fertility of the soil. 'It wasn't because they couldn't' puts in the Arch-Vicar. 'it was because they didn't want to. Between World War II and World War III they had all the ti
May 27, 2014 Jas rated it liked it
This is a hard one to rate. I’ve just reread for the first time since I was 16, motivated by a student who compared/contrasted it to Lord of the Flies. . At the time I hardly noticed that it’s not a novel in the sense we usually use the word. It is very didactic, hardly driven by character analysis. Didactic isn’t necessarily bad; Anna Karenina is very didactic, but it’s great because of how it presents its main characters and relatively weak when Tolstoy gets on his hobby horse. Lady Chatterly’ ...more
Mar 20, 2014 Yousef rated it really liked it
must read for all those ambitious to change the world from what it looks like now.
The book is very satirical and can't be taken literally, as its super extreme views are just to get you thinking and to expand your prescription of the world beyond its usual pigeonholed boundaries.
I don't know why the author put multiple layers between himself and the main content of the book, maybe he was hinting that he wants it made into a movie. language was a bit beyond my level and so was most of the poetry,
William Crosby
Aug 18, 2015 William Crosby rated it it was amazing
An odd book which most people have not heard of. It is worth the read. It is filled with poetry, singing, stage directions and a "Narrator" saying strange, discordant phrases. "Detumescence" is a word used often.

A commentary on society, philosophy, science, nationalism, fear, industrialism, the myth of progress, and ecological destruction. This book is still valid today.

Starts off with two Hollywood types talking about movie scripts and then the rejected script for "Ape and Essence" falls off a
Richard Feltgen
Jun 13, 2015 Richard Feltgen rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Ape and Essence is a very unique work. Stylistically it has not much do with any other writing of Huxley, having Island or Brave New World in Mind. It is written like a screenplay, which I found at first very unusual. But what a lot of people don't know (me included until recently) is that Huxley worked in his later years as screenwriter in hollywood.
The mainplot is simple and nearly cliched: it's the future, the world is destroyed, humanity struggels. But unlike the other stuff I read and heare
Bernardo Arcos Álvarez
Aug 12, 2014 Bernardo Arcos Álvarez rated it it was amazing
Shelves: novela, 2014
Huxley tenía el don de mirar directamente a lo trascendente, de encontrar tendencias ocultas en la cotidianidad y llevarlas a sus últimas consecuencias con exactitud casi profética. Haciendo críticas salvajes de la nimiedad y uniformidad del pensamiento de prácticamente toda la población, logra un libro que impacta profundamente si uno es capaz de mirarse a sí mismo de manera objetiva.
Por otra parte, su aseveración de que el misticismo oriental debe guiar a la ciencia occidental es como mínimo d
Denis Materna
Oct 22, 2014 Denis Materna rated it did not like it
A H had really lost it by Ape and Essence. Something doesn't quite gel in this short story. It may be the characters or the plot, or the weird imaginary devil worshiping society. It's a fantasy too far. And a long distance from the quirky, shy, realism with a skew of earlier Huxley. As a social comment, it cuts just as sharply as any of his previous stuff, more so.

In the future people worship Belial and bury each other alive in the desert, and mate like animals, yet some "hots" fall in love and
Jan 02, 2016 Rhys rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
A superb post-apocalyptic novel published in 1948. I read Brave New World in school (one of the very few things that my school got right) and later I read Chrome Yellow and I enjoyed both, which makes it a mystery as to why it has taken me so long to get back to Huxley.

Ape and Essence doesn't start particularly well. There is a frame tale that involves the Hollywood film industry and two disillusioned employees. They manage to get hold of a rejected film script by a shy and retiring wannabee wri
Apr 07, 2008 Richard rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: science-fiction
I read this book after reading Brave New World. I didn't understand the reason for the screenplay format at the time but I now realize that Huxley was using it as a distancing device.

The social satire was not quite as biting as in Brave New World but nonetheless Huxley's criticism of the post WWII victorious West was trenchant.
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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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“Love casts out fear; but conversely fear casts out love. And not only love. Fear also casts out intelligence, casts out goodness, casts out all thought of beauty and truth. What remains in the bum or studiedly jocular desperation of one who is aware of the obscene Presence in the corner of the room and knows that the door is locked, that there aren’t any windows. And now the thing bears down on him. He feels a hand on his sleeve, smells a stinking breath, as the executioner’s assistant leans almost amorously toward him. “Your turn next, brother. Kindly step this way.” And in an instant his quiet terror is transmuted into a frenzy as violent as it is futile. There is no longer a man among his fellow men, no longer a rational being speaking articulately to other rational beings; there is only a lacerated animal, screaming and struggling in the trap. For in the end fear casts out even a man’s humanity. And fear, my good friends, fear is the very basis and foundation of modern life. Fear of the much touted technology which, while it raises out standard of living, increases the probability of our violently dying. Fear of the science which takes away the one hand even more than what it so profusely gives with the other. Fear of the demonstrably fatal institutions for while, in our suicidal loyalty, we are ready to kill and die. Fear of the Great Men whom we have raised, and by popular acclaim, to a power which they use, inevitably, to murder and enslave us. Fear of the war we don’t want yet do everything we can to bring about.” 106 likes
“The leech's kiss, the squid's embrace,
The prurient ape's defiling touch:
And do you like the human race?
No, not much.”
More quotes…