Yet another devastating masterpiece by one of the greatest writers of out time. “The Genius and The Goddess” is vintage Huxley at his desolate best! A scarring tragedy where impiety jousts with instinct, petulance grapples with philosophy and rationality loses out to ravishing lust. A young and talented John Rivers arrives at the family home of the eccentric albeit enormously gifted Theoretical Physicist and Nobel Laureate Henry Maartens after accepting an offer to be his laboratory and teaching assistant.
The Maartens family, a dysfunctional coexistence of the Professor himself; his rapturously beautiful wife Katy; their adolescent daughter Ruth; her younger sibling Timmy and the resourceful housekeeper, Beulah take to Rivers like a duck takes to water and forbid him from seeking external accommodation. The reticent Rivers, whose only constant exposure to human feelings has been the company of his intensely devout Christian mother, initially taken aback by the overwhelming outpouring of affection. However the warmth of the Maartenses envelopes Rivers and he contentedly becomes an integral member of the hyperactive family. However a cascading chain of events that ultimately culminates in John Rivers having an illegitimate and raging affair with Katy Maartens, shatters the former’s inner peace, quiet and conscience. How both Rivers and Katy assuage, reconcile and remedy this unpardonable sin forms the heart and core of the book.
This tumultuous collision between the pure Christian values of John Rivers and the carnal passions of Katy Maartens is also revealing of the opinions nursed by Huxley on religion, rebellion and reason. The book reads as though Huxley both condones as well as confirms the outrageous extramarital tryst embarked upon by Katy, in the complete knowledge that the outcome of such a dangerous and despicable dalliance might invariably be an acrimonious and ugly dissolution of not only a marriage but the very happiness of an entire family. Huxley’s work is fraught with questions and justifications. it represents the tug and pull of character against primeval urgings. Huxley coalesces sex and spirituality to concoct a unique blend of irrational rationality. There is an essence of agreement surrounding vehement disapproval and an act of impropriety is balanced by a notion of inevitability.
“The Genius and The Goddess” will provoke more than pacifying. The book will evoke feelings of rage, passion, pity and pithy. Empathy and remorse will be the reader’ strange bedfellows. John River is emblematic of both hate and hope; evil and benign. Huxley ultimately leaves it to his reader to make the final choice of either to approve or disapprove the contradictory act of John Rivers. And although it took a great deal of time and caused a great degree of tension, I made mine.
Now it is your turn to choose!