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3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 3.00 (685 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Aldous Huxley Narrator: Simon Vance Publisher: Blackstone Audio Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date: September 2009 ISBN: 9781455175017
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Theodore Gumbril, a mild young Oxford tutor, has become thoroughly dismayed by the formality of college life and the staid British institutions of learning. An impetuous need for celebration, even rebellion, possesses him. He and his bohemian companions embark on wild and daring bacchanalian adventures that steer them resolutely away from stifling conventions of behavior, charging them for the first time with an exuberant vitality and lust for life.

A sardonic and outspoken novel, Antic Hay unfolds its polemical theme against the backdrop of London’s postwar nihilistic bohemia. This is Huxley at his biting, brilliant best—a novel charged with excitement and loud with satiric laughter at conventional morality and stuffy people everywhere.

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Quotes & Awards

  •  “A cry for madder music and for stronger wine.”

    New York Times

  • “Aldous Huxley was the most able of satirists...and it is the essential seriousness of his mind, his real concern with the world which gives him his strength.”

    Nation

  • Antic Hay has the literary delights of the intelligence questionnaire, characters who don’t talk in conversations but in charades, with satire japing sophistication as well as the more obvious targets, engaging naughtiness narrated for its own sake, rising and falling in broad comedy and in episodes deliciously strange and tender.”

    New Republic 

  • “There are passages in Antic Hay of a pure and rhythmic beauty: passages so fine, so just, that they move one like good music.”

    Saturday Review

  • “[Vance’s] voice is fun to listen to, and he uses that playfulness to complement Huxley’s biting, satiric prose. He reads marvelously, pacing the story well and using his firm, deep voice to capture the irony and hypocrisy within the book.”

    AudioFile

Listener Opinions

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Elizabeth | 2/13/2014

    " I read this book because Lois Gordon's excellent biography of Nancy Cunard cites it. Huxley apparently had a brief liason with Cunard and then made her a character in this book. I wish I could recognize the other players, all of whom were given absurd and suggestive names in Antic Hay. (Cunard is Mrs. Viveash.) It's largely satirical, and in equal measure bilious and hilarious. The writing is sharp and vivid, but the overall tone suggests the depth of disillusion that resulted from the disaster of the first world war. In that way, this is an acute portrait of the period. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Ant | 2/12/2014

    " Pretty over the top in language. Need a dictionary on hand most of the time. The story is a little thin, more a book of thoughts & ideas. At first it seems incredibly pretentious until it sinks in that the whole thing is a satire (should have read the reviews). Not what i expected from Huxley coming from reading his essays but well, an interesting look at the shallow side of us. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Anthony | 2/12/2014

    " Barely just a story about Theodore Gumbril, Jr.'s pneumatic trousers (after all, the mass production and advertising scheming of Boldero the VC never came through), or quitting the academe to join London's Merry Pranksters, but about a cast of Henry Miller forebears chasing tails (their own and others) and abandoning conventionality - architectural, sexual, sexual archetypal... Huxley's characters are more fluid than his Brave New World'ers, obviously, after all they pulse serum and sputum, not diodes, and their emotions are raw and convincing - Rosie's perseverance in finding the mysterious Toto, Zoe's revenge by stabbing Coleman, Emily's sorrow from Gumbril's flippancy... Gumbril keeps foreground status throughout the novel, despite Huxley's panning from scene to scene from the eyes of the circumstantial character, with his metamorphosis from Oxon reader to character fraud, absorbing the company he keeps and masquerading as his friends to ensnare the fair sex. Rosie acknowledged this quickly, noting that both Mercaptan and Coleman were more fantastic and exquisite than Toto the pseudo-poet. Eventually Gumbril must give up the pretense, recognize the pain he's caused Emily in snubbing her for Mrs. Viveash, and close out the story with Viveash in tow, rambling from companion to companion, like voyeurs hiding in the boudoir. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Adam Tramposh | 1/29/2014

    " central passage: "The spirit is slave to fever and beating blood, at the mercy of an obscure and tyrannous misfortune. But irrelevantly, it elects to dance in triple measure--a mounting skip, a patter of descending feet." "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Frank | 1/20/2014

    " I don't get it. Scandalous in its day maybe? "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Anthony | 1/16/2014

    " Barely just a story about Theodore Gumbril, Jr.'s pneumatic trousers (after all, the mass production and advertising scheming of Boldero the VC never came through), or quitting the academe to join London's Merry Pranksters, but about a cast of Henry Miller forebears chasing tails (their own and others) and abandoning conventionality - architectural, sexual, sexual archetypal... Huxley's characters are more fluid than his Brave New World'ers, obviously, after all they pulse serum and sputum, not diodes, and their emotions are raw and convincing - Rosie's perseverance in finding the mysterious Toto, Zoe's revenge by stabbing Coleman, Emily's sorrow from Gumbril's flippancy... Gumbril keeps foreground status throughout the novel, despite Huxley's panning from scene to scene from the eyes of the circumstantial character, with his metamorphosis from Oxon reader to character fraud, absorbing the company he keeps and masquerading as his friends to ensnare the fair sex. Rosie acknowledged this quickly, noting that both Mercaptan and Coleman were more fantastic and exquisite than Toto the pseudo-poet. Eventually Gumbril must give up the pretense, recognize the pain he's caused Emily in snubbing her for Mrs. Viveash, and close out the story with Viveash in tow, rambling from companion to companion, like voyeurs hiding in the boudoir. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Pippa222 | 1/14/2014

    " This is the early, ironical Huxley. I don't like it as I do his later novels. It leaves me with a sense of emptiness. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Elizabeth L. | 1/9/2014

    " more brutal charm from Huxley. Why didn't anyone tell me about him before? Did I mention that the plot hinges on pneumatic trousers? "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Bronte | 1/5/2014

    " this book had me at 'pneumatic pants' "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Ant | 12/31/2013

    " Pretty over the top in language. Need a dictionary on hand most of the time. The story is a little thin, more a book of thoughts & ideas. At first it seems incredibly pretentious until it sinks in that the whole thing is a satire (should have read the reviews). Not what i expected from Huxley coming from reading his essays but well, an interesting look at the shallow side of us. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Lee (Rocky) | 12/24/2013

    " Considering how short this book is, it was a pretty laborious read. I can't say I didn't enjoy it at times, but it was a pretty big disappointment -- it was full of interesting characters that didn't do anything. The lack of any really story got boring pretty quick. Readable but forgettable. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Darrell Madis | 12/7/2013

    " I haven't read anything by Huxley for many years. I think it was back in the 60's when I last read this. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Matt Charley | 11/30/2013

    " Witty and satirical, an enjoyable weekend reader. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Jess | 11/11/2013

    " This book has some good speeches, but all in all was a little too scattered to be truly engaging. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Gina | 10/16/2013

    " Highly amusing portrait of post-WWI London society. Not quite as philosophically-bent as a lot of Huxley's other work, but still very engaging. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Frank | 10/10/2013

    " I don't get it. Scandalous in its day maybe? "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 Benito | 10/1/2013

    " Aldous Huxley is a man of many talents, unfortunately social satire is not amongst them. Read Brave New World and Heaven & Hell instead, they are brilliant. This is a failed experiment. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Matt Charley | 9/25/2013

    " Witty and satirical, an enjoyable weekend reader. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Pippa222 | 7/5/2013

    " This is the early, ironical Huxley. I don't like it as I do his later novels. It leaves me with a sense of emptiness. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Eliane | 6/12/2013

    " Not a page-turner, more episodic in nature. But it is really very funny in places and the writing is excellent. Possibly a bit dated, very much of its time (just post First World War). "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Adam Tramposh | 5/29/2013

    " central passage: "The spirit is slave to fever and beating blood, at the mercy of an obscure and tyrannous misfortune. But irrelevantly, it elects to dance in triple measure--a mounting skip, a patter of descending feet." "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Jess | 5/26/2013

    " This book has some good speeches, but all in all was a little too scattered to be truly engaging. "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 Leandra Cate | 9/10/2012

    " who knew aldous huxley had such a sense of humour? "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Argott | 7/23/2012

    " This is the book that made me understand the Aldous Huxley is a far greater genius than Brave New World promised. I have to read all of Huxley's books before I die. If I don't get around to it, it'll be a shame, because I'll be too dead to read. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Owen | 6/23/2012

    " No plot, yet a plethora of interesting ideas and wit. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Owen | 6/22/2012

    " No plot, yet a plethora of interesting ideas and wit. "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 Benito | 6/10/2012

    " Aldous Huxley is a man of many talents, unfortunately social satire is not amongst them. Read Brave New World and Heaven & Hell instead, they are brilliant. This is a failed experiment. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Maureen | 5/16/2012

    " Antic Hay is a mishmash of various topics on the mind of Aldous Huxley after the end of the first World War. Told from the perspective of a number of different characters, it may suffer from a lack of focus on a plot, but never deviates from Huxley incisive insights into the culture of the time. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Darrell Madis | 12/13/2011

    " I haven't read anything by Huxley for many years. I think it was back in the 60's when I last read this. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Gina | 10/19/2011

    " Highly amusing portrait of post-WWI London society. Not quite as philosophically-bent as a lot of Huxley's other work, but still very engaging. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Elizabeth L. | 10/4/2011

    " more brutal charm from Huxley. Why didn't anyone tell me about him before? Did I mention that the plot hinges on pneumatic trousers? "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Maureen | 6/22/2011

    " Antic Hay is a mishmash of various topics on the mind of Aldous Huxley after the end of the first World War. Told from the perspective of a number of different characters, it may suffer from a lack of focus on a plot, but never deviates from Huxley incisive insights into the culture of the time. "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 Leandra Cate | 5/27/2011

    " who knew aldous huxley had such a sense of humour? "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Argott | 5/3/2011

    " This is the book that made me understand the Aldous Huxley is a far greater genius than Brave New World promised. I have to read all of Huxley's books before I die. If I don't get around to it, it'll be a shame, because I'll be too dead to read. "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 Benito | 5/2/2011

    " Aldous Huxley is a man of many talents, unfortunately social satire is not amongst them. Read Brave New World and Heaven & Hell instead, they are brilliant. This is a failed experiment. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Darrell | 7/8/2010

    " I haven't read anything by Huxley for many years. I think it was back in the 60's when I last read this. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Lee (Rocky) | 5/10/2010

    " Considering how short this book is, it was a pretty laborious read. I can't say I didn't enjoy it at times, but it was a pretty big disappointment -- it was full of interesting characters that didn't do anything. The lack of any really story got boring pretty quick. Readable but forgettable. "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 Leandra | 2/9/2010

    " who knew aldous huxley had such a sense of humour? "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Bronte | 6/4/2009

    " this book had me at 'pneumatic pants' "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Eliane | 5/18/2009

    " Not a page-turner, more episodic in nature. But it is really very funny in places and the writing is excellent. Possibly a bit dated, very much of its time (just post First World War). "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Argott | 1/30/2009

    " This is the book that made me understand the Aldous Huxley is a far greater genius than Brave New World promised. I have to read all of Huxley's books before I die. If I don't get around to it, it'll be a shame, because I'll be too dead to read. "

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About the Author
Author Aldous Huxley

Aldous Leonard Huxley (1894–1963) was an English poet, novelist, dramatist, essayist, and humanist philosopher. He attended Eton and Oxford and briefly taught at Eton before devoting himself solely to writing. His fifth novel, Brave New World, is one of the most read books in literary history.

About the Narrator

Simon Vance (a.k.a. Robert Whitfield) is an award-winning actor and an AudioFile Golden Voice with fifty-eight Earphones Awards. He has won thirteen prestigious Audie Awards and was Booklist’s very first Voice of Choice in 2008. He has narrated more than eight hundred audiobooks over almost thirty years, beginning when he was a radio newsreader for the BBC in London.