Led by William Mottolese
Thursdays, 7:00-8:30 p.m., 2/21, 3/21, 4/18, 5/23, 6/20, 5 sessions
The second decade of the 2000s has brought a renewed interest in Aldous Huxley. Huxley has emerged as one of the most fascinating, relevant, and strikingly prophetic writers of the twentieth century. Too much of Huxley’s own life and preoccupations resonates with us today: Eastern mysticism, psychedelics, technology, environmentalism, and warnings about the excesses of capitalism, the inertia of communism, and the intoxicating dangers of fascism. Those who personally knew Huxley — who died on the same day as John F. Kennedy and C.S. Lewis — spoke of his love for the beautiful complexity of life, which at every step, to him, was “extraordinary.” A man of profound paradoxes and catholic interests, he was as much drawn to Medieval saints as modern computers, to Oxford as Hollywood. More than ever, Huxley resonates coast to coast — with Brooklyn and Silicon Valley, the seats of contentment, progress, and cool. The works we will study include the satirizing of elite circles in Point Counter Point, the speculative fiction of Brave New World, the fascinating musings on the psychedelic experience in “Doors of Perception” and “Heaven and Hell,” and the optimistic utopianism of his last major work, Island. In all, Huxley’s life and work threaded together a fascinating and paradoxical century: linking the stolid materialist tradition of Charles Darwin with the ecstatic spiritual legacy of Timothy Leary. By the first class, please read through Chapter 13 of Point Counter Point.
William Mottolese has taught at Fordham University and Saint Joseph’s College in Indiana and is presently Chair of the English Department at Sacred Heart Greenwich. He has published on such subjects as Olaudah Equiano, Laurence Sterne, and James Joyce and is presently at work on projects on Joyce, teaching critical thinking, and the relation of literary modernism to twentieth-century popular music. He has taught for a decade on the faculty of the Center for Fiction where he has led classes on James Joyce, David Foster Wallace, Salman Rushdie, Irish literature, and postcolonial literature. William is an award-winning teacher, published poet, and proud father of three children.