Crome Yellow is Aldous Huxley’s very first novel, published by Chatto & Windus in 1921. The book is partly autobiographic. Its central character is inspired from the author himself, while its events sum, to a certain extent, his own experiences among the Bloomsbury group. Huxley’s first masterpiece, however, is much more than a fictionalized record of his own life in the midst of certain literary circles of the era. In truth, the book is an ingenious piece that touches upon a number of issues and deep conflicts including alienation, and a satirical representation of the English intellectuals during the first decades of the 20th century.
The story follows the mental progress of a young man named Denis Stone during his journey towards “Crome”. Denis is an aspiring poet and novelist, who retires to the Wimbush property for few weeks. There, he reencounters Anne Wimbush, a slightly older woman with whom he is in love. In addition to Anne, her uncle and aunt, Denis finds himself in the company of a small group of artists; what begins there as a pleasing little vacation culminates in existential awakenings and failed expectations.
Ever since its publication, Crome Yellow has become the center of praise and favorable critical responses. The book, in fact, contains very little plot development as remarked by American journalist and critic Henry Louis Menken, who had questioned whether the work can be called a novel at all; yet, at the same time, praised the author’s “shrewdness, ingenuity, sophistication, impudence, waggishness, and contumacy”. F. Scott Fitzgerald is another American writer who had warmly applauded the structures of the composition which he termed, “too ironic to be called satire and too scornful to be called irony”.
All in all, Chrome Yellow is a fresh and light novel; yet at the same time, a deep and clever book, which tackles crucial issues and questions under the guise of sarcastic criticism of certain circles in society.