Aldous’ first collection of short fiction, consisting of six short stories and a play.
All in all it’s quite a good read and one can see the young Aldous developing his writing. Admittedly, he is incredibly pompous at times, but one does get the feeling in “Bookshop” that he realises this and that he understands that he needs to tone it down a lot if he wants to get his ideas and thoughts across to the masses.
Definitely a must read for all Aldous fans.
Farcical History of Richard Greenow
A rather interesting look at Dissociative Identity Disorder before and into WWI, where one personality is a conscientious objector while the other is firmly on the side of destroying the Hun with extreme predjudice. Add to this that Richard’s other personality is female and has complete blackouts when she takes over things get a little out of control for him.
Yes folks, just because someone with DID is male does not mean that their other personalities are going to be male also. It doesn’t work like that. One’s other personalties are whoever they are and sometimes they will express with different genders to the host.
Superbly written in Aldous’ inimitable style.
Happily Ever After
Set in the years of WWI, Aldous introduces us to two young men, both at war, with completely contrasting views on life. I think this is Aldous’ way of reminding himself — and all of us — to not get lost in dogmatic ideologies and, instead, to grasp and enjoy the joys of life while you’re young because you never know if today will be your last.
Eupompus Gave Splendour to Art by Numbers
One often gets the impression with Aldous that he liked to show off his classical education: “Oooh, hark at me, i know all these ancient Greek people and things.”
All the pompous whimsy aside, the only thing really being said here is Aldous didn’t much think that meditation was good for a person: “Let’s not count breaths, eh.”
A play. Very much a thing of its time when it comes to race, displaying Aldous’ Victorian heritage to the full.
A little romance short with Aldous stirring in another good load of the “Oooh, hark at me, i know all these ancient Greek people and things.” that we had in “Eupompus Gave Splendour to Art by Numbers”.
A short about an impulse purchase all dressed up in a rather lovely piece of descriptive writing. I felt that the undertones of this was Aldous bemoaning the great unwashed and uncultured, while, at the end, he sees that he can’t escape their influence when surrounded on all sides by them: we’re all in this shit life together. Our protagonist finally throws his impulse purchase into some bushes.
I find this story very much to have the seed of what Aldous later grew into his life’s work. The symbolism of the bookshop with its classical music, fashions, art and books; representing education, privalege and wealth; surrounded on all sides by the working classes, poverty and need. How can one enjoy such fruits when he’s reminded and intruded upon, at every moment, that so many don’t have these things.
The Death of Lully
Lully is an early christian martyr that is rescued on a passing ship. A well written short but i’m not sure what the message really is. As a devout non-christian, this kind of thing just turns my brain off.