Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Ape and Essence” as Want to Read:
Ape and Essence
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Ape and Essence

3.76  ·  Rating details ·  5,039 ratings  ·  326 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 August 1948)
More Details... Edit Details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.
1984 by George OrwellThe Hunger Games by Suzanne CollinsBrave New World by Aldous HuxleyFahrenheit 451 by Ray BradburyThe Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood
1,079 books — 2,782 voters
Brave New World by Aldous HuxleyThe Red Book by C.G. JungWandering by Hermann HesseSlaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut Jr.The Hero With a Thousand Faces by Joseph Campbell
Bibles for the Revolution
377 books — 201 voters

More lists with this book...

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Average rating 3.76  · 
Rating details
 ·  5,039 ratings  ·  326 reviews

More filters
Sort order
Start your review of Ape and Essence
Sep 13, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites, my-reviews
"There are times, and this is one of them, when the world seems purposefully beautiful, when it is as though some mind in things had suddenly chosen to make manifest, for all who choose to see, the supernatural reality that underlies all appearances."

I was reading Ape and Essence in a sunlit park when I was struck by this line. It emitted a beacon of light that folded back on itself and enveloped these words, this book, my hands, my legs, the ground under my feet, the park, the city, its sur
Jul 19, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: british
America the Fearful

Fear turns democracy into tyranny. Perhaps fear is the foundation of democracy, the fear of material or spiritual loss. Isn’t that the sentiment behind the dispersion 0f power in constitutional government? If so, the Trump-phenomenon may be an inevitable consequence of democratic politics. And the thing to be feared most.

I am reading Ape and Essence, written in 1948, while the racist Trump rally is taking place in North Carolina. Chants of ‘Send her back’ are being directed at
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 08, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Cruelty and compassion come with the chromosomes

I've elected to storm into the ranks of Huxley, like a Korean antihero in a Vengeance film. This is a peculiar fruit. There was much from which I recoiled. I feel at moments that History had made the novel look foolish and impotent.

The reasons to dislike this were Legion
The novel's thrust is a rejected screenplay
The narrative then is couched
in satirical and cinematic terms
speaking of a future
a world devastated by nuclear exchange
Kiwis having no s
[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
Jan 29, 2008 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
Roxana Chirilă
Two guys from Hollywood are talking about... stuff. One of them is the first-person narrator, the other is a guy who's gotten a mistress despite the fact that he didn't really want one, and now he's in trouble with his wife.

I'm making it sound way more interesting than it actually is. I spaced out while reading some of their discussion, which was about Gandhi getting murdered and the nature of marxism and fascism and politics and whatever.

In the middle of the philosophy, I shut the book and read
May 09, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: aldous-huxley
Huxley hits the proverbial nail on the head with this biting dystopian satire of the dangers of democracy. We see it in our daily lives of the dangers of an ill educated populace able to vote and elect dangerous individuals. However, the problem lies perhaps not in democracy but the criteria we use for people to qualify and allowed to vote. Plus a media completely controlled by an oligopoly of billionaires who have their own agenda. This story is interesting as it was written just at the beginni ...more
Erik Graff
Sep 15, 2013 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
Nov 26, 2015 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
Alex Akesson
Sep 16, 2012 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
Booze Hound
Jun 20, 2012 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...

Nov 19, 2011 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
Jose Moa
This is th most original, misantropic, terrorific,grotesque postapocaliptic distopia perhaps ever written.

In this book Huxley makes the most corrosive acid satire,with touchs of the blakest humor on the human nature and human civilization i ever read,all is demolished,the ideologies,marxism,capitalism,nationalism,militarism,christianism,the bad use of science and technologie.
Is the final victory with our help of the evil over the good in a inverted moral values world,a world where actually Belia
Sep 17, 2016 rated it really liked it
Take Brave New World (1931) and scroll the calendar to 1948, after World War Two and Hiroshima. Significantly, the action begins on the day that Gandhi was assassinated. The world that author Aldous Huxley gives us in Ape and Essence is slightly different.

There has been a World War Three that decimated the entire population of the world, except for New Zealand, which sends an expedition to Southern California. One of the scientists, a botanist named Alfred Poole, is kidnapped by the surviving hu
Give me detumescence
We are all apes -
That's the essence.

I don't know if Huxley was on psychedelic drugs while writing this, but I surely felt like being on some while reading it.
Nov 29, 2013 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
Sep 12, 2015 rated it it was ok
Not long ago, I wrote about how, though Aldous Huxley's non-fiction never really spoke to me, I always seemed to enjoy his fiction. Now I have to go back on my statement.

Ape and Essence is half-baked nonsense. It is warmed over Brave New World without compelling ideas or characters that the reader cares about.

The plot concerns a world that has been decimated by nuclear war and the totalitarian society that arises in its aftermath. Well--it's sort of about that. It begins in Hollywood, where a c
Feb 24, 2011 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
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 19, 2009 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
Chris Pauer
Feb 05, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Everyone
Recommended to Chris by: Girlfriend as christmas gift
Awesome book, I loved every page.
Large, colorful vocabulary and descriptors assists in projecting a world post nuclear war and the life and civilization that remains.
I was hooked from the first few pages.
Apr 01, 2009 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
Jan 05, 2016 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 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
Sep 14, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Published in 1948, it predates the French novel that became "Planet of the Apes" by 15 years and it could well have been an influence.
The framing story, set at the time of the book's publication, involves two men, one a slightly parodic version of a Hollywood film producer (clearly a type Huxley had gotten to know by that time) and a "reasonable man", one often the foil for more exaggerated characters. They find a rejected film proposal in a dumpster at the studio, are struck by its highly unusu
Tony Gleeson
Aug 30, 2009 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
David Schwan
Jun 09, 2016 rated it really liked it
A strange and interesting book. This book was referred to in "Turing's Cathedral" by George Dyson. This book feels like a work that influenced others. There are three basic groups of the overall plot (many reviewers say two groups, I disagree). The first part is set in Hollywood and is centered around a movie screenplay that has caught the interest of some producers. The second and third parts are the text of the screenplay. I say second and third parts because the screenplay portion starts with ...more
Feb 08, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sf-british
'Ape and Essence' is not as well known as 'Brave New World', and there is good reason for that. The narrative is split between a short introduction, in which a Huxley character finds a strange movie script and learns about its author, and the script itself: a post-apocalyptic story about a group of New Zealand scientists who visit the ruins of America and discover a morally and biologically degenerated human society which worships the Devil (In their view, the Third World War, the Nuclear Holoca ...more
Bella Baghdasaryan
Aug 07, 2019 rated it really liked it
“And then there was Nationalism -- the theory that the state you happen to be subject to is the only true god, and that all other states are false gods; that all these gods, true as well as false, have the mentality of juvenile delinquents; and that every conflict over prestige, power or money is a crusade for the Good, the True and the Beautiful. The fact that such theories came, at a given moment of history, to be universally accepted is the best proof of Belial's existence, the best proof tha ...more
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
topics  posts  views  last activity   
Goodreads Librari...: I can't combine these books 3 50 Feb 16, 2013 01:18PM  

Readers also enjoyed

  • Ghidul nesimţitului
  • Diaboliad
  • The Lion and the Unicorn: Socialism and the English Genius
  • 62: A Model Kit
  • Paris in the Twentieth Century
  • Urien’s Voyage
  • Brazilian Adventure
  • Against the Fall of Night
  • Free Fall
  • The Eyes of Heisenberg
  • The Little Prince: New Translation by Richard Mathews with Restored Original Art
  • My Apprenticeship
  • Romola
  • Myths of the Near Future
  • On Colonialism
  • The American
  • Felix Holt: The Radical
  • Sumerians: A History From Beginning to End
See similar books…
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

Related Articles

    Pulitzer Prize–winning literary critic Michiko Kakutani, the former chief book critic of The New York Times, is the author of the newly...
70 likes · 14 comments
“The leech's kiss, the squid's embrace,
The prurient ape's defiling touch:
And do you like the human race?
No, not much.”
“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.” 144 likes
More quotes…