The paper aims to analyse how Huxley develops and deepens in his essays (always dialoguing with his novels) the relationship between Literature and Science (Snow, 1959; Leavis, 1962). “What is a rose? A daffodil? A lily?”, Aldous Huxley answers this question in Literature and Science (1963) in a twofold way, combining in the quotation of Gertrude Stein’s poem (Sacred Emily, 1913) his view of an all-embracing culture: “One set of answers to these questions may be given in the highly purified languages of bio-chemistry, cytology and genetics” but “the primary interest of the literary artist […] his own and other people’s more private experiences in relation to flowers and with the multiple meanings he finds in them”. In other words, men of science and men of letters engage in different kinds of language purification processes, which are both complementary and necessary . The sceptical mind of his grandfather, the famous biologist T.H. Huxley (Science and Culture, 1881), and the Victorian moral ideals of his great-uncle, Matthew Arnold (Literature and Science, 1882), lived together in Aldous Huxley in a synthesis where literature and science are the two complementary facets of our Culture, both of them essential to investigate and represent the actual world. The literary form chosen by Aldous Huxley was the essay, or rather a perfect fusion of the novel with the essay, where art is the means through which both forms define the ‘ends’ and make scientific theories known. In his essays and novels of ideas, Huxley is almost obsessed with the question how to fictionalise scientific facts in order to stimulate the scientist’s curiosity and passion among his readers. This fictionalisation of scientific facts is the way to make scientific papers immortal (Battisti, 2004; Maurini, 2017). “A work of art can never be taken for granted, and so forgotten; neither can it ever be disproved and therefore thrown aside. Science is soon out-of-date, art is not” (T.H. Huxley as a Literary Man). The paper’s goal is to identify the essays [i.e. T.H. Huxley as a Literary Man (1936), Brave New World Revisited (1958), Integrated Education (1959), Literature and Science (1963)] in which Huxley develops this theme and how Huxley rhetorically (and ‘scientifically’) constructs them in order to be persuasive; furthermore the paper intends to underline how Huxley’s view of fictionalisation of scientific facts would have become a path followed by the most part of contemporary English and American writers.

The Power of Language. Literature and Science in Aldous Huxley’s Essays

elisa fortunato
2019

Abstract

The paper aims to analyse how Huxley develops and deepens in his essays (always dialoguing with his novels) the relationship between Literature and Science (Snow, 1959; Leavis, 1962). “What is a rose? A daffodil? A lily?”, Aldous Huxley answers this question in Literature and Science (1963) in a twofold way, combining in the quotation of Gertrude Stein’s poem (Sacred Emily, 1913) his view of an all-embracing culture: “One set of answers to these questions may be given in the highly purified languages of bio-chemistry, cytology and genetics” but “the primary interest of the literary artist […] his own and other people’s more private experiences in relation to flowers and with the multiple meanings he finds in them”. In other words, men of science and men of letters engage in different kinds of language purification processes, which are both complementary and necessary . The sceptical mind of his grandfather, the famous biologist T.H. Huxley (Science and Culture, 1881), and the Victorian moral ideals of his great-uncle, Matthew Arnold (Literature and Science, 1882), lived together in Aldous Huxley in a synthesis where literature and science are the two complementary facets of our Culture, both of them essential to investigate and represent the actual world. The literary form chosen by Aldous Huxley was the essay, or rather a perfect fusion of the novel with the essay, where art is the means through which both forms define the ‘ends’ and make scientific theories known. In his essays and novels of ideas, Huxley is almost obsessed with the question how to fictionalise scientific facts in order to stimulate the scientist’s curiosity and passion among his readers. This fictionalisation of scientific facts is the way to make scientific papers immortal (Battisti, 2004; Maurini, 2017). “A work of art can never be taken for granted, and so forgotten; neither can it ever be disproved and therefore thrown aside. Science is soon out-of-date, art is not” (T.H. Huxley as a Literary Man). The paper’s goal is to identify the essays [i.e. T.H. Huxley as a Literary Man (1936), Brave New World Revisited (1958), Integrated Education (1959), Literature and Science (1963)] in which Huxley develops this theme and how Huxley rhetorically (and ‘scientifically’) constructs them in order to be persuasive; furthermore the paper intends to underline how Huxley’s view of fictionalisation of scientific facts would have become a path followed by the most part of contemporary English and American writers.
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: http://hdl.handle.net/11586/232391
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