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After Many a Summer Dies the Swan

3.75  ·  Rating details ·  2,280 ratings  ·  172 reviews
A Hollywood millionaire with a terror of death, whose personal physician happens to be working on a theory of longevity-these are the elements of Aldous Huxley's caustic and entertaining satire on man's desire to live indefinitely. With his customary wit and intellectual sophistication, Huxley pursues his characters in their quest for the eternal, finishing on a note of ho ...more
Paperback, 368 pages
Published January 1st 1993 by Ivan R. Dee Publisher (first published 1939)
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3.75  · 
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 ·  2,280 ratings  ·  172 reviews

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Paquita Maria Sanchez
Mar 30, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: literature, uk
I've noticed through the few reviews that I have scanned, and in the comments made by friends who have read this less-known Huxley novel, that it is widely considered to be a lesser work, a novel too bombastic to maintain proper momentum and sustain the reader's attention. To be candid, my roommate told me it took him nine months of toilet-reading to get through it, and he spent the two weeks that I was reading it (actually only a week when you factor in the days and days I spent out of town and ...more
Sep 14, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Written when Huxley left England and settled in Southern California, After A Many a Summer satirizes Los Angeles culture (money-driven excess, gimcrack reproductions of classical European art and architecture, only bigger) in a way that is quite like Evelyn Waugh's The Loved One (which actually came out 8 years later).
There are a number of stereotypes (grossly exploitative capitalist, his crassly shallow younger show-girl mistress, a gee-whiz young man of science) and a pair of Englishmen, one o
Amy Do
Oct 26, 2011 rated it really liked it
Huxley's "Brave New World" was, to me, a controversial and provoking novel that had just the right amount of thrill and philosophy. "After Many a Summer Dies the Swan" shares the same characteristics, with perhaps a bigger portion of discussion essays. I understand why it took some readers months to finish; the amount of philosophical discussion is large and the topics Huxley raised in this book are abstract and complex. Ideas of eternality, the withdrawal of one's personality, time and evil, go ...more
Jan 09, 2014 rated it it was ok
As novels go, After Many A Summer by Aldous Huxley presents something of the unexpected. It’s a strange, rather perplexing experience. By the end, most readers will feel that what started as a novel somehow morphed into something different. What that something might be is probably a subject of debate. And exactly how of where the transformation took place will remain hard to define.

At the outset, any review of the book should state that this text is rather verbose, uses long sentences that tend
Shamim E. Haque
Apr 03, 2015 rated it really liked it
An interesting and enjoyable novel to read, no doubt! There is a story within the story. 'After Many a Summer Dies the Swan' unfurls another story in the guise of the holograph of the Fifth Earl: an 18th century English nobleman who, like the novel's protagonist, was equally interested in prolonging his life. But most enjoyable are the acerbic ruminations of the Fifth Earl on the follies of fellow human beings, their weaknesses and hypocrisies! The quaint manner in which the Fifth Earl expresses ...more
Bill H
Jul 05, 2010 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: readers of Isherwood's A Single Man
Having read no Huxley other than "Brave New World", I took this one up solely on the assumption that Isherwood had included it in his "Single Man" for some good reason. And, of course, he did: themes of mortality and meaning are central here, too.

"After Many a Summer" is a mix of equal parts philosophical musing and straightforward comic novel. The latter -- the main thrust of the storyline, even specific settings, as well as Huxley's style here -- reminded me of nothing so much as Waugh's "The
Sep 13, 2010 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: speculative
It was alright. the plot had great potential. and had nice build up, but Huxley diverted into some deeply philosophical mumbo-jumbo about 1/3rd of the way in and continued almost until the end. What could have been an exciting read goes wanting for plot treatment and a proper climax. potentially a great work of speculative fiction made mediocre by too much philosophizing. It would have been better of Huxley had designed the story itself to convey some of the ideas that he propounds (by means of ...more
Little Nell
Jul 03, 2013 rated it liked it
"After Many A Summer Dies The Swan" is a novel by Aldous Huxley originally published in 1939. The title originally was" After Many a Summer" but it was changed when published in the USA. The novel's title is taken from Tennyson's poem" Tithonus", about a figure in Greek mythology to whom Aurora gave eternal life but not eternal youth. The title is taken from the fourth line of the poem:

"The woods decay, the woods decay and fall,

The vapours weep their burthen to the ground,

Man comes and tills t
Nov 16, 2017 rated it it was ok
"And if we want to live under the first [Constitution], we've got to recreate something like the conditions under which the first was made," theorizes a character here, thus offering the best line of the book. This 'Mini-Mann's-Magic-Mountain' ("Swan" was published 15 years after "Magic" by the way ) spin has a guy arriving in Los Angeles (instead of Mann's Switzerland) who travels through L.A. and up to what is described as an ugly mess of a mansion (instead of Mann's sanitarium) which sounds l ...more
Jan 02, 2011 rated it it was ok
This was one great short story and one great treatise on God and Man unfortunately compressed into one mediocre book. Huxley's reflections on the role of religion are certainly valid and worthy of their own cover; why squeeze them between the chapters of a pulp fiction short? The combination ruins the flow of both story lines and leaves the reader wondering why they didn't just skip to the end. A suggestion for the reader: if you want a smutty pulp short, skip any chapter involving Mr. Propter a ...more
Daniel Too
Sep 16, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Who would have known that After Many a Summer would bring a greater impact than Brave New World? Well, at least for me. It is a shame that Brave New World overshadowed it.
Jul 03, 2012 rated it it was ok
All told, I believe it took me nearly 3 months to get through this book. While I am in agreement with Huxley's general way of thinking, I guess I should've known better than to pick up this book. I have trouble getting through books written before, definitely, WWII. I find the style of writing tedious and boring, overly descriptive of everything unimportant to the main plot.

This book, once I cut through all the excessively ponderous prose, boiled down to an observation piece about decadence, ina
carl  theaker
Jun 24, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fancy-fiction
The first pair of chapters give a great description of Los Angeles; the quirkiness and the contrasts, giant billboards, architecture, landscape, the transients and the well-to-do, all an insight into what makes LA, LA, and perhaps could only be written by someone such as Huxley coming from a different country getting a fresh view to this new American city in the 1930s.

As always, Huxley is heavy on the philosophies and satire as he mocks the continual California search for youth with science an
DJ Dycus
Jun 07, 2012 rated it it was ok
There are certainly some interesting ideas in this book, and it takes an unexpected twist, but overall I'd have to say that it's not worth wading through. The book certainly shows its age. There is a great deal of pontificating (the interesting ideas already mentioned), and it frequently feels like you're attending a lecture rather than a novel with interactions among genuine characters.

Huxley uses this book to critique the excesses of American culture, so that was interesting--materialism, obse
Aug 04, 2013 rated it it was ok
I was a Huxley fan in my youth, with a shelf of all his works (mostly Granada? Picador? paperbacks, with some rotten old early 20th century hardbacks mixed in) as well as the Bedford and Dunaway biographies... So when I began re-reading this novel a few days ago, I was full of nostalgia. The polysyllabic vocabulary! The learned references! The irony!

Midway through, however, I ran out of steam. It's all talking heads, abstract philosophical polemics... Huxley was surely a brilliant humanist: the
Jason Kinn
Nov 26, 2015 rated it it was ok
This book is worse than bad. It's bad in and of itself -- boring as hell, pretentious, with nonhuman characters (they're just walking philosophies, no flesh and blood) and a silly, unconnected end. But it's also bad because it makes me think Brave New World might not have been so great, either. And I (have) love(d) Brave New World for decades.

The only redeeming feature of this book is that my copy of it reminds me of my honeymoon in Mexico City when I picked it up. I could have left it unread fo
Apr 24, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: classics, fiction
Well, I can relate to the search for eternal life that is at the crux of this book. I am searching for eternal life with a guarantee of eternal youth included. Sigh, as I age I grudgingly cede that there might be worse options than death. I love Mr. Huxley's voice of irony and the eclectic chorus of characters in this tome. I found myself chuckling darkly at the ending. This is only my second Huxley book. I shall certainly read more.
Oct 26, 2008 rated it it was amazing
One of my favorite books pretty much ever, it is also one of Huxley's most overlooked. While it is rather wordy and pretentious, I think that was kinda the point.
Dec 31, 2017 rated it really liked it
This book is a somewhat odd mash-up of satire and philosophical lecture. On the one hand, we have an uber rich old man, Jo Stoyte, who lives in a castle in the San Fernando Valley. He owns a bank, a cemetery, an oil company… his home is reminiscent of Hearst Castle, filled with every modern convenience and stuffed with art from around the world bought with no plan or passion. His very young live in girlfriend is called The Baby. He also has a live in physician, Obispo, who has no redeeming quali ...more
Y. Yatsenko
Mar 05, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
“Apes, the lot of us,” implies Huxley. He implies it with the highbrow language of Propter’s philosophy, with Obispo’s “science,” with Jeremy’s scab itching and pornography reading… He implies it with Virginia’s sex addiction, with Stoyte’s unbalanced psyche that is prone to irrational anger. “Apes, the lot of us,” implies Huxley, “Apes who are afraid to die.”

Propter’s philosophy is the closest that Huxley comes to writing down his undiluted thoughts. At times, it’s almost as if Huxley snipped a
Oct 22, 2017 rated it really liked it
Huxley's first California-based novel captures the millionaire/floozy/intellectual triad perfectly. This is a very funny novel with many asides that are often more amusing that the main story. Huxley is a master of irony and witty dialogue. Wonderful novel.
May 17, 2013 rated it it was ok
I loved this novel for the first six chapters, approximate the first fourth of the novel. After that I struggled to finish it. Luckily I read a few reviews on goodreads that gave me permission to skip the chapters containing Mr. Propter and the socratic questioning on his views. Some kind of metaphysical stuff that I found a bit condescending towards Dust Bowl refugees and the crises in Europe. What I loved initially was our entrance into Los Angeles of the 1930s, driving from the airport to Jo ...more
Mar 16, 2011 rated it really liked it
Huxley is brilliant and an amazing writer, but non too subtle about the social points he wants to make. And his fantastical allegories are a bit much sometimes, but nonetheless, he always leaves you thinking and his books make a permanent mark. This one is no exception. It was weird, grounded, poignant, deep, funny, shallow, sarcastic and earnest all at once. I read it after reading some fun but overly solemn and artlessly written fluff (Sue Collins' The Hunger Games, I think), and it really cle ...more
Jun 24, 2011 rated it it was ok
There were a lot of really great ideas in this novel, but I can't say that it was an enjoyable read necessarily. It felt in a lot of ways like rough draft. There were several plot elements that were introduced but never fleshed out, and others that were fleshed out in a less-than-satisfying manner. I'm glad that I read it, however, and I have a better understanding of Huxley as a writer now.
Jan 15, 2014 rated it it was ok
Shelves: project-2014

The human condition, self, philosophy, life and death…Huxley drones on in a novel that is purported to be connected to the life of William Randolph Hearst…there's very little to recommend the reading of this book…two stars only because it's Huxley…

Feb 03, 2013 rated it it was ok
I can't bring myself to pick this up again.

Maybe it's becuase there is so much craziness in real-life right now so I don't need someone preaching at me... but I think I'll set it asside for now.
Aug 17, 2015 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Great title, shame about the novel. One of Huxley's later novels, and really shows his interest in mysticism. Mr Propter is a barely-concealed mouthpiece for Huxley's own ideas on the Purpose of Man, and his enormous monologues were rather trying.
Aug 04, 2007 rated it really liked it
Wonderful spoof on youth-obsessed culture, not in the least hampered (and probably aided) by a fairly far-fetched scientific plot device. Let's just say I've never looked at carp the same way since.
Apr 27, 2008 rated it it was amazing
One of my favorite books, very disturbing take on American manias and Hollywood. Haven't read it in awhile but recommend it to anyone interested in the roots of literary science fiction or dark satire.
Brian Smith
May 11, 2009 rated it it was ok
This book is a prime example of dogma dictating narrative. I cannot remember at which point I started skimming through Mr. Propter's pedantic discourses.
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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
“But then every man is ludicrous if you look at him from outside, without taking into account what’s going on in his heart and mind.” 71 likes
“Pleasure cannot be shared; like Pain, it can only be experienced or inflicted, and when we give Pleasure to our Lovers or bestow Charity upon the Needy, we do so, not to gratify the object of our Benevolence, but only ourselves. For the Truth is that we are kind for the same reason as we are cruel, in order that we may enhance the sense of our own Power....” 52 likes
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