05 February 2007

Aldous Huxley. Brave New World. 1932

Aldous Huxley. BRAVE NEW WORLD. Chatto and Windus, London 1932.

Current Selling Prices
$5000 - $8000 / £2500 - £4000

Attractive blue jacket, also a jacketless yellow buckram signed limited edition that commands slightly less than a fineish trade first in d/w. Not one of Huxley's best books but certainly his most famous. Title is from Shakespeare's 'The Tempest' -- "Oh brave new world, that has such people in it". The book hasn't entered popular culture in the way that 1984 has (Big Brother/ Room 101 etc.,) but every time cloning and gene splicing takes a leap forward the title is invoked. In the novel movies are known as 'feelies' and low caste workers as 'Epsilons' but these haven't really caught on. Barron in his authoritative Anatomy of Wonder (1995)says that the book "... stands alongside We and Nineteen Eighty-Four as one of the classic dystopian novels." Reading JG Ballard's chef d'oeuvre Super Cannes (2000) you can, to some extent , see Huxleys unoptimistic vision realised.

VALUE? A common 'rare' book that was barely breasting a £100 in the 1970s for a nice jacketed one but now commands £3000. Decent copies sans d/w are common, and even copies in unimpressive chipped and generally lived in jackets are still often seen, fine it has become difficult. It can show up in 'vibrant' condition with the blue as fresh as it was in the 1930s. It has benefited from a polarisation in the modern first edition market towards the collecting of obvious, landmark books (sometimes called 'dumbing down') and the price seems to have unerringly tracked the Dow Jones or Kensington house prices as these books tend to. Cf. The Hobbit, Narnia, Casino Royale, Dead Cert, Catch 22 and Catcher in the Rye etc., A beast of a book inscribed-- the Maurice Neville copy at Sotheby's 2004 signed to Paul Jordan Smith made an audacious $25000. Huxley was not a gregarious type and apart from limited editions his signature is scarce; his dauntingly intellectual look probably scared off autograph hounds. Want level 25 - 50 Highish

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