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Rotunda, a Selection from the Works of…

Rotunda, a Selection from the Works of Aldous Huxley

by Aldous Huxley

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This is the first book by this author that I've read, and for several reasons I've found it a good introduction. It contains a full novel - Those Barren Leaves, a selection of shorter stories, a few poems, a play, and a selection of Essays. Seeing as the author has books that are collections solely of short stories, or essays, or are just novels, it should provide the first time Huxley reader with a good idea of what further works he should enjoy. I have decided from reading this that I will probably have a look for some of his collections of short stories, and perhaps a few of his novels.

Those Barren Leaves:
At around 400 pages long, this is probably a more or less average lengthed novel, and is the longest singular piece in this book. For me it flew by though, and seemed a bit shorter, due to the particularly easy reading that it is. As well as this it is both charming and amusing, which makes it all the more enjoyable. Not a lot happens in the book, but it isn't really reliant on the virtually non existent plot, but instead on the characters, the way they behave toward each other, what they are thinking, and their conversations. This is what would normally bore me in a book, and put me off reading it, where often characters in themselves are uninteresting, predictable, and superficial, like most poeple in real life, (He states the opinion himself in one of the essays later on), but instead, here, the characters are clever and intelligent, and their discussions are deep and thought provoking. Instead of having what is a more traditional plot, consisting of happenings and events, this story progresses through the different ways of thinking of the characters, and their outlooks on life, to reach its conclusion. The book starts by focusing on Mrs Aldwinkle, who is portrayed as a dilettante, and does not realise how her guests think of her, and goes through to end on a more philosophical note, from the converations of other characters.

I found the short stories interesting, these make up about 300 pages of the book . There was a good variety of themes to them, and they seem to have been written in different moods, with quite different morals and conclusions to them. The poems didn't take up many pages, but they were worth reading, though nothing spectacular. The play was quite humorous, and had a good twist, I enjoyed that.
The Essays make up about 250 pages, and are mainly on philosophy and travel, with some music and literature, and were good reading. Especially interesting was the one on Pascal, which while being reasonably accurate was perhaps excessively tart. ( )
  P_S_Patrick | Sep 28, 2008 |
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