SELECTED SNOBBERIES BY ALDOUS HUXLEY

Introduction

The present essay on Selected Snobberies is a fine example of what an essay should be. The writer has taken up an interesting topic and suggested some snobberies with which most people in the world are affected. The essay does not teach any moral principle but familiarises with a new subject that is applicable to most people of the world. It says whether we like it or not but most of us do have some kind of snobbery though we may not be conscious that it is only a snobbery. The unit aims at presenting a detail of snobberies enumerated by Aldous Huxley.

The essay consists of seven paragraphs in which the writer discusses the interesting subject of snobberies. The essay has been entitled Selected Snobberies which means that the writer discusses not all but some selected snobberies only. The selected ones here are the most common ones. These common ones are about diseases, booze, modernity, art and culture. Aldous Huxley’s style is quite interesting, particularly the way he exposes the weakness of each snobbery. For example, a society that has many snobberies has been compared with “a dog with plenty of fleas”.

About the Writer: Aldous Huxley

Aldous Leonerd Huxley (1894–1963), an English writer who spent the latter part of his life in the United States is famous for his novels and essays on a number of topics. He also published poetry, stories and film stories. He was not only a humanist and pacifist but a writer on spiritual subjects including those on parapsychology and philosophical mysticism. He was an intellectual and a leader of modern thought and philosophy.

Huxley started writing at an early age. He wrote his famous novel Brave New world in which he discusses the demeaning effect of scientific progress and in Ends and Means he points out that though everyone is in favour of a just and ideal society yet there are differences among people and leaders on how to achieve it. In 1938 Huxley became a friend of J. Krishnamurti whose teachings had a great influence on him. He was much attracted to Vedantism also and was introduced into the Vendantic Circle of Swami Prabhavananda and soon after he wrote The Perennial Philosophy in which he discusses some of the widely believed spiritual ideas and the mystical teachings of the famous mystics.

Summary of Selected Snobberies

There are all kinds of people and all kinds of snobberies so that there is nothing in the world about which people cannot be snobbish. There is however one exception to it. It is not possible to find a leprosy snob as none wants to suffer from it. But there are a good number of people who are disease snobs. There are examples of young men and women who are T.B. snobs. They think that it would be quite romantic to die of tuberculosis while they are in the prime of their youth. The regrettable part of it is that the end of these T.B. snobs is not as romantic as they seem to imagine. But there are many rich people who seem to think that they suffer from many diseases and they run from one fashionable doctor to another to seek a cure for their imaginary diseases. The only disease that these snobs suffer from is none else but that of over-eating. They eat more than they can digest and so they think that they are suffering from several diseases.

There are fashions in snobberies also. Old snobberies become outdated and the new ones take their place. Earlier people used to be snobbish about their families but now family snobbery is on the decline. New culture snobbery is on the increase though it is resisted by low-class people. The latest in our times is the booze snobbery and most young men and women also from fifteen to seventy are seen drunk in at least private parties. France has been famous for its fine wines and its fine tastes but such is the influence of these low-class people that the taste for fine wines is being substituted for strong wines and cocktails.

Modernity snobbery is not wholly new for it existed in the past also. Modernity snobs throw away old things and buy the latest that have been created or invented by machines. These snobs are the best friends of the modern industry producers. The producer produces the latest things that do not last long. This modernity snobbery is fast increasing in our times.

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Art snobbery is another. These art snobs are of two kinds: The platonic and the unplatonic. The Platonic ones only appreciate and admire art without buying art objects; but the unplatonic art snobs actually purchase art objects and for them, an art object is not a piece of art but actually a commodity, a money symbol which they must possess just as they buy and possess motor cars. Some of these art snobs happen to be modernity snobs also and they claim to be the patrons of modern art. Without understanding anything about the art they just buy paintings of modern painters. In this way, these modern art snobs are a great source of the livelihood of the new art painters.

As for the value of snobberies, it all depends on the attitude of its practitioners. If they think that all activities are good then all snobberies are also good. But if they think that all activities are bad then all snobberies are not good. If they think that all the world is an illusion then all snobberies are meaningless. All depends on our attitude and approval of what is a good activity and what is bad. But most people take the middle position between these two extremes. Those who regard some snobberies as good activities they will promote only those snobberies and they will advise all people to acquire those very snobberies which they think promote good activity. Every snob in this way is the promoter of one snobbery or the other at a time.

Detailed Notes and Glossary

Paragraph-1: All men are snobs….. solicitude and pity.

Summary:-

There is no end of snobberies and all people have one kind of snobbery or the other though there may be no leprosy snobs. But disease snobbery is common enough. There are many T.B. snobs who wish to die while young but their death is usually not so happy as they seem to imagine. There are some rich snobberies which are the snobberies of rich people. These rich people think that they suffer from several diseases and they run from one fashionable doctor to another in search of their cure. In fact, these rich people do not suffer from any diseases but they disease is that they eat too much and then they think that suffer from many diseases.

Word meanings:-

snobs = one who holds a very high opinion of himself.
mortal = resulting in death.
leprosy = a disease that forms silvery scales on the body.
Consumption = tuberculosis or T.B.
Keats = an important romantic poet of the early nineteenth century who died at a very young age.
Marie Bashkirtseff = (1858-1884) a Russian French artist; she was one of the most romantic figures who lived in the most intense cultural period of the nineteenth century.
fading = slowly dying. ingenious = here it means one who thinks of new diseases.
poeticizing = thinking sentimentally.
pathetic = deserving pity.
maladies = diseases.
from spa to spa = from one good doctor to another good doctor.
lavish = generous.
solicitude = consideration.

Paragraph-2:- Disease Snobbery is……. the privacy of a party

Summary:-

Snobberies change with time. Some snobberies of the past have been replaced by the new ones. The family snobbery is on the decline but the booze snobbery is on the increase. The taste for fine and soft wines has been replaced by strong drinks and cocktails. Culture snobbery is also being replaced by low culture snobbery. The drink snobberies is becoming quite popular and women also have taken to drinking in private parties.

Word meanings:-

multitude = a great number.
Ebb and flow = rise and fall (here it means that they flourish and disappear).
booze = strong drinks.
wrestle = fight against.
low-browism = the habit of low-class people.
repulsive = hateful.
malefic = harmful.
connoisseurship = the ability to judge about tastes from good to bad.
solecism = against good manners.
branding = marking.
cocktail = mixing of strong drinks.
headway = progress.
tempered = softened.
I

Paragraph -3:- Modernity snobbery…… snobsnow

Summary:-

Modernity snobbery has been there in every age and a modernity snob is the modern producer’s best friend. A modernity snob will always be hunting for the latest goods that he will buy and throw away the old ones. The modern producer of goods will always produce the latest things for the modernity snobs. The more he produces, the more it is sold. The modern producer produces the most perishable things that do not last for a longer time. He spends a lot of money on advertisements. His great desire is that many and more people should become modernity snobs; so that he becomes richer very quickly.

Word meanings:-

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The unplatonic art snobs are worse when they happen to be modernity snobs also. In that case, instead of buying old art objects, they buy art objects made by living artists. In this way instead of buying the art objects of the Old Masters, they patronize the living artists. Thus they are a source of livelihood for the poor living artists. In this way, they think that they are great patrons of living art. The advantage is that the poor living artists benefit from it and so these modern unplatonic art snobs impress others by their money power.

Selected Snobberies: Summary, Detailed Notes and Questions and Answers

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