Mortal Coils

Mortal Coils

by Aldous Huxley

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Mortal Coils is a collection of five short fictional pieces written by Aldous Huxley in 1921.

The title uses a phrase from Hamlet, Act 3, Scene 1:

... To die, to sleep,

To sleep, perchance to dream; aye, there's the rub,

For in that sleep of death, what dreams may come,

When we have shuffled off this mortal coil,

Must give us pause ...

The stories all concern themselves with some sort of trouble, normally of an amorous nature, and often ending with disappointment.

The stories

"The Gioconda Smile" is a mixture of social satire and murder story, which Huxley later adapted into a film called A Woman's Vengeance (1948).

"Permutations Among the Nightingales" is a play concerning the amorous problems encountered by various patrons of a hotel.

"The Tillotson Banquet" tells of an old artist who was thought to be dead, and is "rediscovered"; a not entirely successful honorary dinner is organised for him.

"Green Tunnels" is about the boredom of a young girl on holiday with her family. She develops a romantic fantasy, and is ultimately disillusioned.

"Nuns at Luncheon" is a second-hand story told of a nun falling in love. The story mocks the writer's process, a concept Huxley used in his novel Crome Yellow. (

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781775457671
Publisher: The Floating Press
Publication date: 04/01/2012
Sold by: Barnes & Noble
Format: NOOK Book
File size: 244 KB

About the Author

Aldous Huxley (1894-1963) was an English writer and philosopher. Born in Godalming, Huxley—the grandson of famed zoologist Thomas Henry Huxley and grandnephew of poet and critic Matthew Arnold—was raised in a family with wide-ranging intellectual interests. He attended Eton College as a youth before enrolling at Balliol College, Oxford, where he studied English literature and edited Oxford Poetry. An eye disease Huxley contracted around this time ended his hopes of studying medicine and serving in the Great War, and he instead graduated with a BA in 1916. After a brief stint teaching French at Eton College—among his pupils was Eric Blair, later to write under the pen-name George Orwell—and several years working for Brynner and Mond, a chemical company, Orwell began writing in earnest. The first decade of his career saw him publish four novels, including Crome Yellow (1921) and Point Counter Point (1928). These early works of social satire, inspired in part by his acquaintance with members of the Bloomsbury Group, including Bertrand Russell and Alfred North Whitehead, as well as by his friendship with D.H. Lawrence, gave way in the 1930s to more serious works of fiction, including the dystopian classic Brave New World (1932) and Eyeless in Gaza (1936), a novel with pacifist themes. In 1937, Huxley moved with his wife, Maria, and son, Matthew, to Los Angeles, where he would live, apart from a period in Taos, New Mexico, for the rest of his life. Over the next three decades, Huxley continued to publish award-winning works of fiction, devoted himself to Vedantism, and wrote works on mysticism, Eastern and Western philosophies, and the use of psychedelic drugs.

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