Master of Arts (MA)


Emily W Heady

Primary Subject Area

Literature, American; Literature, Comparative; Literature, English


Aldous Huxley, Artificiality, Modernism, Postmodernism, Time, Tom Robbins


This study explores the connection between the time concepts of Aldous Huxley and Tom Robbins. For both authors, time imprisons man on two fronts, or in two cages, if you will. The smaller of these cages is society's concept of time, clock time, which constrains the activities of man, forcing him to submit to his fate as a mere drone operating on the assembly line of life. In this prison, man cannot take the proper time to commune with nature, to look inward at himself and his life, or to focus on the real meaning and goal of life--escape from the larger cage. This larger cage is time as it relates to the lifespan, to man's mortality. From birth he is sentenced to death--it is only the length of days that varies from person to person. Hence time as the messenger of death becomes the ultimate foe to be overcome. Man can spring himself, with perhaps considerable effort, from the first cell, but freedom from the larger one--achievement of timelessness--becomes the definitive pursuit. The first chapter provides an overview of major conceptions of time in history, tracing the movement from natural or God-time to artificial time. The second chapter details Huxley's response to the artificiality of time that characterizes modern society, and the third chapter explains Robbins' response to the persistent artificiality in postmodern society and makes connections between the two authors.