roman-à-clef, Pipe-Lines to the Infinite, Crome Yellow, Brave New World
a novel by A. Huxley, published in 1921. First establishing Huxley's reputation for witty dialogue and cynically funny observation, it has usually been read as a roman-à-clef, satirizing Ottoline Morrell's circle at Garsington. Lady Ottoline is caricatured as ‘Priscilla Wimbush’, devotee of astrology and Inspirational writings such as her guest Mr Barbecue-Smith's Pipe-Lines to the Infinite. ‘Scogan’, a voluble and libidinous rationalist, is based on Bertrand Russell and H. G. Wells, and the temperamental painter ‘Gombauld’ on Mark Gertler; ‘Mary’ is perhaps Dora Carrington, while the deaf, continually sketching ‘Jenny’ suggests Dorothy Brett. Huxley himself appears as the poet ‘Denis Stone’, split between thought and action, ineffectual in his amorous designs upon ‘Anne Wimbush’. Though light-hearted, Crome Yellow does contain certain embryonic Huxleyan concerns: human isolation and egotism, the search for love, and a balanced philosophy of life. In particular, Scogan's urging of ‘scientific openness’ and the Rational State looks forward to Brave New World.