Point Counter Point
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Point Counter Point

3.82 of 5 stars 3.82  ·  rating details  ·  5,787 ratings  ·  164 reviews
Aldous Huxley's lifelong concern with the dichotomy between passion and reason finds its fullest expression both thematically and formally in his masterpiece Point Counter Point. By presenting a vision of life in which diverse aspects of experience are observed simultaneously, Huxley characterizes the symptoms of "the disease of the modern man" in the manner of a composer-...more
Paperback, 432 pages
Published October 1st 1996 by Dalkey Archive Press (first published 1928)
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Alan Wightman
Point Counter Point is a tragicomedy about a group of London intellectuals and/or members of the leisured class in the 1920s. Despite cynical and fun-making elements, Huxley allows his characters to formulate a series of profound and serious ideas, amongst them being:

(a) Why do people bother with worrying about liberty, democracy and politics, when they should just get on with living their lives
(b) It is easier to live the life of the intellectual, to live in a world purely of ideas, than it is...more
Edi
To this day, Aldous Huxley's "Point Counter Point" remains my favourite novel. The deepest corners of human nature -- that's where he goes, and that's where I haven't seen anyone else being able to.
The novel doesn't have a front-to-back storyline, a precise plot, or a main character. It starts off with Walter Bidlake's "trials and tribulations", only to extend to the entire social network of the London elite of the 1930s.
Huxley's versatility brings this writing to the status of "masterpiece", si...more
James
Bad people doing bad things, but in a very witty way. That is a brief, if incomplete, summary of Aldous Huxley's novel, Point Counter Point.
It is more broadly a "novel of ideas" with a novelist of ideas, Philip Quarles, at its center. Quarles is a withdrawn, cerebral man, ill at ease with the everyday world and its emotions. He is surrounded by friends and family whose lives are like those of the monsters that Philip writes about in his journal. Just as Philip decides to structure his novel on t...more
Tony
POINT COUNTER POINT. (1928). Aldous Huxley. ***.
Well, I read it, but was frustrated in that I didn’t understand what the author was trying to do. I am a big Huxley fan, but this book won’t be included in my list of all-time favorites. First off, there is no plot – at least one that I could find. It reminded me very much of the film, “My Dinner With Andre,” except that this dinner date had about twenty characters in it. It starts out at a musical soiree at the mansion of a very rich couple in Lo...more
Krishnaroop Chakrabarty
Huxley is quite the literary enigma. He is the progenitor of a style of expression that is thoroughly unique and exhaustive in its presentation of the matter at hand and this itself prevents any form of imitation by other lesser competent literary mortals. Yet the only deterrent to Huxley is perhaps Huxley himself. Over indulgence is undeniably his most persistent arch nemesis and it befuddles the authors best efforts in quite a lot of his creations and is well demonstrated here in PCP. The noti...more
Andrew
A phrase like "novel of ideas" sounds so ponderous and leaden-- you'll not find many who liked The Magic Mountain as much as I did, but I'll readily admit it was tough going-- but Huxley proves that a novel of ideas can be on the contrary, witty, playful, and as bitchy as a gin-sodden Truman Capote. Nearly every page has a line that's a total keeper:

"The rush to books and universities is like the rush to the public house. People want to drown their realization of the difficulties of living prope...more
Darran Mclaughlin
Neither brilliant nor awful. It has some good elements but it has no central theme or idea, and no plot to speak of. It reminds me of a cross between Vile Bodies and The Mandarins by Simone de Beauvoir. It is a book about the racy nihilism and the upper classes in the jazz age and a 'roman a clef' about the ideas and personalities of the twenties. I recognized the character of DH Lawrence, and it was interesting to see how highly he was thought of at the time. I think I got who James Middleton M...more
Anja Murez
I reread Point Counter Point after discovering that Dorothy L. Sayers wittely, intellectually and mostly gently pokes fun at the book and its author in The Documents in the Case , in the person of John Munting, alias Philip Quarles, alias Aldous Huxley himself (talk of Russian puppets inside puppets!). Of course Aldous Huxley was a pacifist, Sayers quite the contrary; Sayers was a Catholic, be it more of the mind than of the heart, where Huxley tends to some unspecified universal mysticism. Both...more
Lea
Historically interesting in its structure, playing with picking up and putting down the story from the various viewpoints of the characters. I found this a bit disorientating at first, when a character is ditched and a totally unrelated scene unfolds. Sometimes a character is abandoned for long periods of time; however, it comes together in the end. There are memorable characters, like Lucy Tantamount, the spoilt larger than life rich girl who heartlessly bonks whoever takes her fancy at the mom...more
Veronica
Apr 25, 2011 Veronica rated it 2 of 5 stars
Recommended to Veronica by: Modern Library's 100 Best Novels
I am still shaking my head in disbelief that Huxley penned this drivel just four years prior to the publication of Brave New World. Perhaps I’ve missed his point (sorry, just couldn’t help myself), but this one was a snooze fest for me. There was, as expected, some great dialog and a multitude of interesting characters, however, I cared for none of them nor did I care for this lengthy tale.

There is, of course, class distinction, however, most of the affluent characters were rather self indulgent...more
Simon Mcleish
Originally published on my blog here in November 1999.

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...more
Leah
Utterly addictive. This book had some indescribable quality about it that made it completely fascinating, although it was ostensibly about not very much at all.
Filled with the intellectual, raging, pathetic, humorous musings of all its characters, it held up so many strings all at once and never dropped any of them.

It took me a while to get all the names of the characters right (I kept confusing Burlap and Bidlake, for example, and forgetting who Walter was), but their experiences and inner mo...more
carl  theaker

Huxley has a readable style and mixes into the plot events,
and mystery while working in his point and counter points.

Though in this tale he has too many characters. I call this the poor man's,
or maybe I should say the "Reader's Digest" version of
'Dance to the Music of Time' (which I recently just finished).

The plot keeps one's interest but many of the ideas and happenings
are severely dated. This novel doesn't quite stand the test of time.
Probably selected for the Modern Library 100 because of hi...more
Ant
This is probably the best fiction that Huxley had written to date. While Chrome Yellow was relatively pointless, Antic hay, too verbose & Those Barren leaves only beginning to show maturity, Point Counter Point is the fruits of a novelist who has reached his full potential & given the world something entirely new & special. As the name of the book suggests, the story is constructed as a piece of music with intertwining melodic lines which are related to each other, but unique, displa...more
Al

Along with with Brave New World (written a few years later), Point Counter Point is Huxley's most concentrated attack on the scientific attitude and its effect on modern culture.

When it was published in 1928, Point Counter Point no doubt shocked its readers with frank depictions of infidelity, sexuality, and the highbrow high jinks of Aldous Huxley's arty characters. What's truly remarkable, however, is how his novel continues to shock today. True, we may hardly lift an eyebrow at poor Marjori
...more
Denerick
A truly fantastic book. Read this in the buildup to university exams in between college books and other things I had to read for UNI. While my mind was focused on that, in the evenings and before bed, Huxley exercised the more important parts of my brain. I can't do the book justice on the grounds that I lack the intelligence to truly convey what Huxley presents in Point Counter Point. All I can say is that this book is among the best I've ever read, on a whole range of issues. It tackles the me...more
Callan Silver
If Huxley had an editor in 1928 this 514 page book might be a good short story. But unfortunately he didn't, so the book just goes on and on and on... Many have said the book is all about character development, I disagree with this sentiment. Huxley has all the characters telling the reading what they are thinking, what their motives are, and what they are going to do next, over and over again. That is not how you write interesting characters, that is how you write a puppet show for sophisticate...more
Rob Bliss
This has a bunch of people not doing too much, but talking about life. Not that there's a problem with that. As the book points out: it's a novel of ideas. And for being published in 1928, there are a lot of very advanced ideas in here. Its very complex, tells more than shows, but the things it tells are very interesting. Couldn't go into all of them in a review, but one of its strengths is that Huxley has a lot in here to chew on. Makes this sound very modern. Maybe there are few novels today t...more
Bridget
Point Counter Point is a wonderful, profound, confusing story about the human condition.
Or rather, it is a story of stories. Huxley portrays a handful of individuals living in London in the years following WWI, delving not only into their social lives but also into their personal psyches. This makes for a convoluted and dense narrative, but there is a common thread throughout: the tension between passion and intellect, reality and abstraction, instinct and reason in our lives.
I don't think Huxl...more
Jessica
The book is a snapshot of the lives of men and women in English society. The book follows the daily life and struggles of a small group of people, who are unhappy and reaching for meaning in life. Walter Bidlake follows the footsteps of his father John, when he pursues Lucy Tantamount ( the elder Bidlake had an affair with Lady Tantamount). Elinor is stuck in a marriage that leaves her feeling empty and alone, Spandrell feels he has been wronged by life since his mother remarried. The women, wit...more
Mike Moore
The characters in this book are like Hindu gods. At first, you think there are entirely too many. After some time, you suppose that there are really only a handful. Then you come to realization that there is only one character, with the previously imagined characters merely its manifestations. In the end, you may wonder whether there was really any character at all.

If there is one character in this book it's the intellectual life of England between the wars, and it is a villain. A potent and vic...more
Rohan Arthur
This is Huxley attempting something structurally ambitious and intellectually audacious, and the epigrammatic wisdom that flows from this book borders on genius, some of it remarkably prescient given when it was written. What starts as satire slowly deepens into something darker as the individual instrumental caricatures in Huxley's orchestra play out their individual themes and variations to Huxley's baton. If the book does not quite succeed in its structural ambitions, it manages so much more....more
Ivana
For some reason I thought that I haven't finished this novel. Reading it again, I realized that I had finished it. I didn't mind rereading it, thought. I still think that is an excellent novel.
Iztok
Not an easy read, but still captivating and intriguing. I read it more as a vehicle for author's philosophical reflections than as a novel written from a need for storytelling.
Bookaholic
Acum vreo şapte sau opt ani, când am citit pe nerăsuflate Punct Contrapunct şi am trecut-o repede în galeria personală a cărţilor de aur, m-am regăsit în (sau mai bine zis, am aspirat umil să mă asemăn cu) personajul Philip Quarles: un romancier deşirat, osos, cu un simţ al umorului cel puţin discret (ca să fiu gentilă) şi care se lăfăia într-un intelectualism asumat, trecând totul prin filtrul nemilos al creierului dumisale genial.

Iată şi pasajul pe care l-am copiat atunci conştiincios şi calig...more
Justin Heath
Huxley develops a story rich with characters and descriptions of their inner lives, especially with respect to their intimate relationships. The thoughts and actions of the characters show the multi-faceted nature of human beings - neither wholly good or wholly bad, but a mix of the two. The conversations on the merits of an intellectual or spiritual existence versus a more coarse and earthly approach to life are thought provoking. In the end, we each approach our lives in different ways, but us...more
Alan Fay
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Stephen
Dec 31, 2013 Stephen rated it 2 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: no one
Recommended to Stephen by: given to me by Pob Kirkpatrick
It only took me three months to read this novel by Aldous Huxley. I was given the book by a friend who purchased it at a used book store because my wife and I own and run a chamber music summer camp on Lake Dunmore, VT by the same name. The novel was a most-favored book by the founder of the camp, Edwin Finkel. We just celebrated our 50th anniversary with a weekend-long celebration in September where this little know fact became public knowledge. It was a slog. Like the punishment of Sisyphus or...more
James
Tuesday night I finally finished Huxley's "Point Counter Point."

As with many of the books I've been reading lately, this one was much too long. And the tiny font size didn't help matters either.

Huxley introduces a large number of characters and sub-plots (though not as many as you might find in a nineteenth-century Russian novel, for instance), and some of them he abandons long before the reader is expecting it, thus leaving the reader with the awkward sensation that some of the stories were unf...more
Chris-topher
What an interesting book. I set out to read some of the books from the 'top 100 novels' list that I'd never heard of before, and this was one. I'd read Huxley before (Brave New World) in High School and remembered liking it. But this book was completely different.
The book consists of depictions of several characters in a fairly upper-crust social circle in London. There is no 'big event' or necessarily overarching plot in the book, but basically a series of vignettes portraying each character as...more
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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
More about Aldous Huxley...
Brave New World Brave New World/Brave New World Revisited The Doors of Perception/Heaven and Hell Island Brave New World Revisited

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