Crome Yellow is Aldous Huxley’s first novel. Published in 1921, the book satirises the fads and fashions of the time. It is the witty story of a house party at “Crome”. We hear the history of the house from Henry Wimbush, its owner and self-appointed historian; apocalypse is prophesied, virginity is lost, and inspirational aphorisms are gained in a trance. Our hero, Denis Stone, tries to capture it all in poetry and is disappointed in love.
Crome Yellow is in the tradition of the English country house novel, in which a diverse group of characters descend upon an estate to leech off the host. They spend most of their time eating, drinking, and holding forth on their personal intellectual conceits. Huxley’s novel, however, has slightly more actual events and far more delineation of character than Peacock’s novels – which is interesting considering Huxley’s tendency in most of his other novels to lecture at great length.
Also of interest is a brief pre-figuring of Brave New World. Mr. Scogan, one of the characters, describes an “impersonal generation” of the future that will “take the place of Nature’s hideous system. In vast state incubators, rows upon rows of gravid bottles will supply the world with the population it requires. The family system will disappear; society, sapped at its very base, will have to find new foundations; and Eros, beautifully and irresponsibly free, will flit like a gay butterfly from flower to flower through a sunlit world.”