Huxley's 'lost' play, Now more than ever : a scholary edition




Sexton, James

Journal Title

Journal ISSN

Volume Title



Aldous Huxley completed a three-act play called Now More Than Ever in the autumn of 1932. After trying unsuccessfully for over two years to persuade theatre producers in both New York and London to stage the play, he abandoned the project, turning his full attention to other work in progress, particularly the novel Eyeless in Gaza, which he completed in 1936. The core of this dissertation (Chapter Three) is an annotated edition of Huxley's "lost" play, Now More Than Ever, based on the only extant script, housed in the Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center, University of Texas, Austin, and indexed as "An Unpublished Play, TMs, corrected. 92 pp." The thesis argues that the play is an important document in Huxley's intellectual and spiritual development and should not merely be regarded as a minor and fruitless theatrical adventure. In fact, it is best understood as part of the author's ongoing discussion of spiritual and social concerns to which he consistently returned in his fiction and journalism of the inter-war period. Written in 1932, midway between two major novels, Brave New World (1932) and Eyeless in Gaza (1932-36), and resonating with ideas put forward in his volumes of linked philosophical essays—Do What You Will (1929) and Music at Night (1931)— Now More Than Ever should be recognized as an important part of an ongoing discussion with himself, which grew less and less provisional until his arrival at the definitive outlook on life that amounts to a spiritual conversion in 1936. Like most of Huxley’s fiction and drama, Now More Than Ever is partly autobiographical. Some o f the male characters embody, at least in part, Huxley’s earlier positions before his spiritual conversion, specifically the sceptical/aesthete and the extremist anti-democrat. Now More Than Ever takes the reader to the threshold of that conversion. Chapter One briefly summarizes the play then discusses the social, political and economic background, with particular emphasis upon the historical events surrounding the economic crisis which forms the backdrop for Huxley’s play. Chapter Two discusses Huxley as drama critic as well as apprentice and journeyman playwright. Although this aspect of Huxley’s career has received scant attention from the critics, he left behind a significant body of dramatic work—three full-length plays, The World of Light (1931), Now More Than Ever (1932), and The Gioconda Smile (1948)— and co-authored stage adaptations of his novels, The Genius and the Goddess (1957) and After Many a Summer (1958). In addition, he published over eighty drama reviews and several short dramatic pieces. After discussing Huxley’s monetary and artistic goals as a dramatist, the chapter describes his early, apprentice plays and his dramatic precepts as revealed in the reviews. Next, I examine his full-length plays within a context of the post-Ibsen "drama of ideas" in Britain, pointing to technical and thematic analogues in the dramatic works of Shaw, Munro, and Galsworthy, especially as these authors treat what Galsworthy termed "the parlous state of England". The chapter concludes with an analysis of The World of Light and The Gioconda Smile. Chapter Three introduces the play text with an analysis and evaluation of the themes and symbolic structure of Now More Than Ever. The appendices present several of Huxley’s Hearst essays which illumine various aspects of Now More Than Ever followed by a list of all significant deletions that Huxley made to his typescript.



Huxley, Aldous