Sunday, February 23, 2020

Review of "The Genius and the Goddess," by Aldous Huxley

Review of

The Genius and the Goddess, by Aldous Huxley

Four out of five stars

 The genius in this novel is Henry Maartens, a physics professor whose very words can modify thought around the world. Yet, he has one weakness, he grows deathly ill when his wife Katy (the goddess) is away for long periods. The main character is John Rivers, a man that was very sheltered by his widowed mother and inexperienced about the world. Shortly after he receives his doctorate, Rivers takes a job as a lab assistant under Henry and since he is to start immediately and has no place to live, he is invited to live with the Maartens’.

 Both the adults and their teenage daughter grow fond of Rivers and his position becomes that of a de facto member of the family. Both of the women develop feelings for him, which leads to some awkward situations. Rivers is torn between his own sexual desires and the reality of the ways in which he could gratify them. He eventually does get some release, but he faces the repercussions of major guilt. There is an extremely sad event near the end, yet Henry and Rivers come out of it fairly well and Henry lives to an old age.

 The temporal context of this book is the early 1950’s, a time of significant sexual repression. Huxley is very good at including a great deal of analogies expressing his personal views on religion, intelligence, morality and social forces. While he never gets sexually explicit, the allusions to sex are very common. This is one of the most unusual tales of a love triangle ever published.

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