Crome yellow

by Aldous Huxley

Paper Book, 2001

Status

Available

Genres

Publication

Chicago : Dalkey Archive Press, 2001.

Description

Though Aldous Huxley would later become known as one of the key early figures in the genre of dystopian science fiction, his first novels were gentler satires that played on the manor house genre. Crome Yellow tells of the goings-on at a house called Crome, an artists' colony of sorts where thinkers and writers gather to work, debate, and sometimes, to fall in love.

Media reviews

The Smart Set
Aldous Huxley’s Chrome Yellow, if it be called a novel, violates all of the rules and regulations that I have just laid down so smugly. But why call it a novel? I can see absolutely no reason for doing so, save that the publisher falls into the error in his slipover, press-matter and canned review. As a matter of fact, the book is simply an elaborate piece of spoofing, without form and without direction... It is a piece of buffoonery that sweeps the whole range from the most delicate and suggestive tickling to the most violent thumping of the ribs. It has made me laugh as I have not laughed since I read the Inaugural Harangue of Dr. Harding... Aldous is obviously less learned than his eminent grandpa. I doubt that he is privy to the morphology of Astacus fluviatilis or that he knows anything more about the Pleistocene or the Middle Devonian than is common gossip among Oxford barmaids. But though he thus shows a falling off in positive knowledge, he is far ahead of the Ur-Huxley in worldly wisdom, and it is his worldly wisdom which produces the charm of Chrome Yellow. Here, in brief, is a civilized man’s reductio ad absurdum of his age— his contemptuous kicking of its pantaloons.

User reviews

LibraryThing member paradoxosalpha
Huxley's first novel is a pleasant little confection. "Chrome yellow" is, of course, an artist's pigment, and the book's fictional country manor Crome features visits from artists. The "yellow" aspect alludes to aestheticism and decadence (cf. The Yellow Book and the "Yellow Nineties"). This aspect of the title may have contributed as much to the book's alleged notoriety as any of its contents did. The plot eventuates in little of anything, while the short chapters serve as amusing exercises in drawing characters and playing with ideas.

Crome Yellow satirizes the Bloomsbury-set scene at Garsington Manor, framed by the visit of the callow poet Denis Stone. He is preoccupied with mooning over young Anne Wimbush, who is slightly his senior. The high point of Stone's deployment is his disquisition on the magic power of words and literature (106-107). I wonder if this character might be a critical self-portrait of the book's author.

New thought and theosophical notions are in the air of Crome, entertained especially by Anne's mother Priscilla Wimbush, the lady of the house. Some of the most entertaining passages are monologues from Mr. Scogan, an old school friend of Henry Wimbush. Scogan provides a sardonic counterweight to the naive Stone, and some of his prophecies about a rationally-organized future society (22, 114-116) anticipate the content and themes of Huxley's Brave New World.
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LibraryThing member TakeItOrLeaveIt
Huxley's first book at a ripe and young adolescence age and OH is he aware of it! Huxley has no problem with the extreme vulnerability of his lead character, to the point of letting his jealousy get in the way of the novel sometimes. It is also one of the most genuinely melancholy books I have ever read. If I had to compare it to an album it would possibly be Beck's 'Mutations'. However, he shows fleeting glimpses' of future Huxley as his older characters have a flair for history, one even writing a large and silly history of the town 'Crome' (a British countryside town) that includes a dwarfish lord who kills himself and his wife, a family of beautiful women who pretend not to eat but lock themselves in a basement at night downing chickens and hams, amongst other stuff. the history is not the most important part of the novel, the ultimate feeling of character development and the strong sense of description and criticism is what is so rich in this novel and what made me so excited to pick up every page. Although it was his first it cannot be called raw as it is better than many writers greatest works. Huxley is a writer's writer other than the few books he is known for, and any male between the age of 20-24 who feels angst and discontented with the melancholy of his stature in relationships and the surroundings he finds himself in will adore 'Crome Yellow.' It's very much something that Morrissey would read in his youth.

PS check out the vintage cover of the copy I scored at this rad book shop in Venice, California!
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LibraryThing member Greatrakes
Crome Yellow is the first early Huxley I have read and I am surprised it isn't more widely talked about. A very funny dissection of the moneyed classes of the 1920's, far better in characterisation and wit than Waugh's Vile Bodies, in my opinion.

The 'hero', Denis, a hopeful young poet, is a guest at Crome, the ancestral home of Henry Wimbush, whose history of the previous inhabitants, he recites whenever he can, and is his only interest. Denis tangles with a recovering Cubist painter, a successful writer called Barbecue-Smith, Mary, a virgin obsessed by the dangers of repression and dreaming constantly of wells and towers, and a demented vicar hoping beyond hope for the end of times.

The most grotesque character is Mr Scoggins, a rationalist who looks forward to a future which has a strong resemblance to Brave New World.

I really enjoyed this book.
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LibraryThing member cdeuker
Someone says that this book is a bit like an Agathie Christie novel without the murder. I like that--a group of intellectuals, young and old, are staying at a country house right after WWI. They discuss art, love, literature, and history. Much of it is very entertaining--the intellectual back and forth reminded me of MY DINNER WITH ANDRE. The characters, unfortunately, are basically mouthpieces for ideas. When Denis--near the end--contemplates suicide, my response was . . . "Oh, well." His love for Anne is similarly a yawner. Even though I wouldn't want to read "idea" novels all the time, I'm delighted to have read this one, and I'll read more Huxley in the future.… (more)
LibraryThing member 912greens
There is a passage in which a minister tries to beat his sermon against the "rubber souls" of the congregation. I thought that this might have been an inspiration for the Beatles? But have since heard other theories on the origins of their Rubber Soul.
LibraryThing member Mardel
I understand that Aldous Huxley was a very popular writer. He was known for writing science fiction mostly, I believe. This book was his debut novel and was written in a dialogue style. Believe me, there is an extreme amount of dialogue in this novel. Some people like this type of thing. It seriously reminded me of a long-winded Woody Allen movie, one of his later movies that seem to be mostly dialogue between characters and not just dialogue, but self-involved,almost narcissistic dialogue. Not just dialogue, but "Literary", Important, Lofty and GRAND dialogue.

Woven within all this dialogue, I believe is a plot where Denis is in love with Ann. Denis is a writer, Ann is part of a wealthy "landed" family. Apparently there are many men in love with Anne, and she's not really interested in any of them. At the same time her sister Mary has decided to act on her passions, so that she doesn't suffer from repressed or suppressed passions, but all the men visiting at the time are obsessed with Anne, and don't take Mary seriously. This part sounds interesting, but unfortunately it is suffused with many, many instances of each character falling into Great Discussions of Many Ideas. I'm sure this type of book is very interesting to some, but I just found myself extremely frustrated. Some of the conversations were interesting, such as when the lord of the manor was reading passages from his history of his family. I think those were the most interesting pieces of the book. This was written slightly humorously. It would make a funny movie, I have no idea if it has been-certainly I've seen movies with all the comedic maneuverings of people trying to wub (nothing like good spelling!) WIN their true love, but this was overshadowed (for me anyway) with ALL the Great Conversations going on left and right.

I also understand that this book was written in 1922, and I am living in 2009; I am used to reading modern books and have very little patience reading an extreme amount of conversations (GREAT Lofty conversations) to find out what will happen to the characters. Does Mary really have her passions freed? (does this actually mean she had sex? or did she just make out all night and watch the sunrise with a certain someone-later it is made a teeny bit clearer). Does Denis get his love? Does anyone end up with Anne?

I feel a little guilty because I had to force myself to finish this book, and most of the time I didn't enjoy it. There were enjoyable sections, some humorous sections. There was a conversation about pregnancies in glass bottles for the future. But on the whole, as a whole I didn't like this book. I guess I am not a literary genious. I do like to read books though.

I am interested however, in reading, or trying out one or two of Aldous Huxley's later books.

If you LOVE, Love, love movies and books like Woody Allen's movies with a lot of conversation, then you'll enjoy this book. All the characters are very intelligent and well-spoken. There is no denying that Aldous Huxley was a very intelligent man. I just couldn't decide if he was satiring the wealthy with the endless philosophying and their numerous hobbies or if he was completely being serious.
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LibraryThing member ari.joki
One of the characters is deaf, and is portrayed as living in a separate world whence she will emerge for a moment at long intervals. I feel the rest of the characters are similarly alienated, each according to their own faults.
This, the first published novel of the author, reads like a collection short stories loosely sewn together.… (more)
LibraryThing member PghDragonMan
Very slow moving, maybe because the narrative is very detailed, the story is nonetheless worth reading if you are a student of Huxley's time or of Huxley. This story is most notable for an encounter between a man and a woman who, because the night was so hot, moved their mattresses to a roof and spent the night outside together. When the novel was first published, this was considered absolutely scandalous. This novel, and more specifically this passage, is considered by many literary historians as signaling the end of the Victorian Era.… (more)
LibraryThing member AaronMaples
Huxley's first novel. As a reader of a number of his other works, this one I felt was quite light compared to some later works. Somewhat predictable love story at times, but still unfolds surprises along the way. Huxley does not disappoint by filling an estate with a bunch of intellectuals trying to one up each other in the context of the english countryside. I will always remember sleeping getaways with mattress on the rooftop reading stars while conversing across turrets- life dangering in the meantime.… (more)
LibraryThing member daveskinner
I read this so many years ago that I cannot recall the details, but I have kept the paperback for 40 years because the parts that are "Henry Wimbush's engaging accounts of his eccentric ancestors," have haunted me for all those years. It is probably the greatest thing I have ever read.
LibraryThing member isabelx
Young poet Dennis Stone attends a country house party at Crome. There are lots of philosophical conversations about artistic matters, the host tells interesting stories about his ancestors and Dennis suffers the pangs of unrequited love. I don't get the title; Crome is the name of the house and village, but why Yellow? The house is built of rosy brick, not of golden Cotswold stone so it's not that.… (more)
LibraryThing member ursula
I've never read anything by Huxley besides Brave New World, and I try to go into reading the books on the 1001 list knowing as little as possible, so I had no clue what to expect. (On a side note, one of the very annoying things about the 1001 book is that in the descriptions, they frequently spoil the book they're talking about. So now, I don't read their comments until after I've finished the book in question.)

This was Huxley's first published book, and it's a satire which takes place at an English country home. The narrator is Denis, who is a poet. He's clumsily enamored of the host's daughter, Anne. Other characters include two other young women, one of whom has her own love problems and the other of whom is somewhat deaf, but as Denis discovers, that doesn't necessarily mean she misses what goes on around her; Henry, the host, who has opinions on everything and loves to share them at length; and Gombauld, an artist. The plot isn't particularly deep, but the plot isn't the point. It's really all about how these people interact with each other. If you were a contemporary of Huxley's and moved in the same circles, I'm sure reading this would make you smile and recognize people you knew.

And for the modern reader, one of Henry's ideas sounds very familiar:

"An impersonal generation will take the place of Nature's hideous system. In vast state incubators, rows upon rows of gravid bottles will supply the world with the population it requires. The family system will disappear; society, sapped at its very base, will have to find new foundations; and Eros, beautifully and irresponsibly free, will flit like a gay butterfly from flower to flower through a sunlit world."

"It sounds lovely," said Anne.

"The distant future always does."

I found it quite entertaining, and a short read. I also added at least 15 words to my vocabulary (I don't think Huxley ever met a word he didn't like).
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LibraryThing member tronella
So this is some kind of... presumably satire about a bunch of people sitting about in their country house telling each other their opinions and/or complaining about their unrequited love for each other. It was fun to read, although the main character especially is particularly irritating.

The best-written parts, in my opinion, were the parts describing the history of the household and its former occupants - the story about the couple with dwarfism whose son was really tall was particularly well done.

I definitely liked this the least of the three Huxley books I've read, but it was still pretty good.
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LibraryThing member grunin
[This started out a little slow; then I went to the audiobook, and the characters came to life. After a couple of chapters, I then went back and forth, audio when commuting, book when sitting still.]

There are several passages here that show the kernel of "Brave New World" (1932) to have been fully formed in 1921, at the latest. I recommend it to those who are curious about this, and also to anyone much familiar with the culture of postwar England. Others may find the satire opaque or pointless.… (more)
LibraryThing member Kristelh
Crome Yellow by Aldous Huxley published in 1921 was Huxley's first novel. It is a witty, satirical book about the British literati. It is set in a country home of Henry Wimbush in the town of Crome. The time period is just after World War I. Denis Stone, who sees himself a poet, is hopelessly in love with Henry’s niece. Mr Scogan is the rational person who discourses constantly and prefers the things of man and rejects nature. Priscilla Wimbush is immersed in the occult. Gombauld is the painter who is rejecting cubist art and painting reality instead. He is also painting a portrait of Anne. The author addresses sex in this book. He references that sex was only prudently treated in the 19th century but was enjoyed and fun in the earlier centuries. There is also Mary who would be an early woman libber seeking to express her sexuality without the restraints of society. The author uses many words that required looking up, at least for me and there is the sense that he is mocking language. A quote from the book on reading; “Human contacts have boon so highly valued in the past only because reading was not a common accomplishment and because books were scarce and difficult to reproduce…..”The proper study of mankind is in books.”
I liked the book but it wasn’t as enjoyable as his Brave New World but this is a quick read for those working their way through the 1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die.
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LibraryThing member steadfastreader
Huxley's first novel. It lacks the organization and amazing storytelling of Brave New World but you can see that he is toying with the ideas that he will later use in Brave New World. This is a decent read, but I'd only recommend it for people who really enjoy Huxley.
LibraryThing member DinadansFriend
This example of a country week end novel is the first published work (1921) by Aldous Huxley. In some ways this may have been a novel for the episode structure of "A Dance to the Music of Time". The characters show up, do a number of character revealing acts, chat about their lives, and very little happens in front of the readers. But Huxley is a good character drawing writer and I had a good time.… (more)
LibraryThing member mreed61
4 1/2, but there's no half here. Oh, well. Eventually, this will get a full review at accidentallymars.wordpress.com.
LibraryThing member mlbelize
It wasn't bad - it just wasn't for me.
LibraryThing member dbsovereign
A light, rather tedious comedy of manners (and disjointed novel of ideas) set in the English countryside post WW1. I much prefer Huxley after he experimented with mind-expanding drugs...
LibraryThing member Dreesie
Wealthy people hang out at someone's country house. They talk art, politics, philosophy, and wish they weren't single. They pine after each other or try to figure out who might be a possibility. The host holds the annual day-long fair and they all assist.

There is definitely humor here, but it is 100-year-old upper class English humor, and doesn't really do it for me.

The best and most interesting part is when Mr Scogan spends a page expounding on what he thinks will be life in the future. His world sounds like an outline for Brave New World--which this book predates by 12 years.
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LibraryThing member leslie.98
3.5★ I may up this to 4 stars -- I want to see how it lasts in my memory. This is a satire or comedy of manners so there is not much action. Various people are gathered at a country house for a visit which gives Huxley a chance to show us different types of 'bright young things' (this was published in the early 1920s). I found much to amuse me but it rarely made me laugh out loud.

One character I found particularly funny was the local vicar, Mr. Bodiham: "He preached with fury, with passion, an iron man beating with a flail upon the souls of his congregation. But the souls of the faithful at Crome were made of india-rubber, solid rubber; the flail rebounded." A predecessor of Amos in Stella Gibbons' [Cold Comfort Farm]!

There were indications of Huxley's masterpiece to come, [Brave New World]. For example, in this early passage by one of the guests (Mr. Scogan):

"Eros, for those who wish it, is now an entirely free god; his deplorable associations with Lucina may be broken at will. In the course of the next few centuries, who knows? the world may see a more complete severance. I look forward to it optimistically. ... our descendants will experiment and succeed. An impersonal generation will take the place of Nature's hideous system. In vast state incubators, rows upon rows of gravid bottles will supply the world with the population it requires. The family system will disappear; society, sapped at its very base, will have to find new foundations; and Eros, beautifully and irresponsibly free, will flit like a gay butterfly from flower to flower through a sunlit world."

Finally, a quote I love from this (also by Mr. Scogan):
"After all, what is reading but a vice, like drink or venery or any other form of excessive self-indulgence? One reads to tickle and amuse one's mind; one reads, above all, to prevent oneself thinking."
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LibraryThing member Lynsey2
This is a solidly written novel with moments of humor and insight but overall a tad boring.
LibraryThing member soylentgreen23
Clever, arguably too clever, since sometimes it's hard to keep track of who's doing what and why. Some great scenes, though.
LibraryThing member jonfaith
Words - I wonder if you can realize how much I love them. You are too much preoccupied with mere things and ideas and people to understand the full beauty of words. Your mind is not a literary mind.

Goodreads is but a sea of possibilities, rife with points of contact albeit drifting and bobbing. Too often I don't hear the calls across the foamy expanses. It is with relief and gratitude that I thank Jim Paris for suggesting this novel.
Crome Yellow is Huxley's first novel.
It has wit and snark.
It overflows with pain and self-deprecation.
It takes place in a place called Crome.
It involves a bank holiday and there are references to oysters.
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