London life just after World War I, devoid of values and moving headlong into chaos at breakneck speed – Aldous Huxley’s Antic Hay, like Hemingway’s The Sun. Antic Hay, novel by Aldous Huxley, published in A satire of post-World War I London intellectuals, the work follows Theodore Gumbril, Jr., the protagonist. Long out of print, this minor modernist classic satirizes Huxley’s illustrious circle in Antic Hay. Aldous Huxley, Author Dalkey Archive Press $ (p) ISBN.

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I moustache you a question: In Antic HayGumbril feels inadequate in his own body.

He feels restricted and unconfident, unable to express his true thoughts. But why does Gumbril choose fake facial hair to disguise himself with?

Why not just a hat, or scarf? Facial hair was important to men in the early twentieth century because events such as the First World War caused a crisis of masculinity in society. To be clean-shaven, on the other hand, was merely to be reliable and trustworthy, rather than assertive — a passive character compared to the moustached-man.

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The loss of men after the First World War was enormous. Not only was society as a whole emasculated by the loss of so many men, but also many of those who did come back felt emasculated by their injuries. The facially disfigured particularly suffered from this, as many could no longer grow facial hair, leaving them to feel somewhat feminine.

Suicide rates of the facially disfigured were high; apparently some could not live yuxley they would never regain their masculinity. Additionally, as technology developed, surgical reconstructions became more than just recreating necessary features to enable the body to function again.

Aldous Huxley – Antic Hay (London, ) – Science Comma

uhxley If they regained their appearance, perhaps they could regain their masculinity as well. This reinforces the idea that masculinity is a social construct; at this time a man had to have a masculine exterior to function as a man in society. If you read the novel in this context, you can see why Gumbril felt so secure beneath his fake beard, and so insecure without it.

He is so intimidated by confrontation that he cannot even leave alxous house without his beard. With his beard, he feels invincible: Though it is only a small alteration of his body, the beard affects his state of mind most of all.


Wearing the beard Gumbril is physically more forceful, he speaks assertively and bangs his fists on the table. Apparently men could only act masculine if they felt masculine, but they only felt masculine if they looked masculine, and for Gumbril, a fake beard did the trick.

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