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Hisashi Ozawa

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Research interests

Aldous Huxley; Modernism; Utopia

Biographical details

I studied law and literature at Hitotsubashi University and Tokyo University before starting a PhD course at King's College London. In August 2014, my essay on Brave New World was chosen by the International Aldous Huxley Society as the best journal-length essay by an untenured Huxley scholar, and was awarded the Peter Edgerly Firchow Memorial Essay Prize (2012-13).

Description of Thesis 

Identity Paradoxes: The Self and Others in the Literature of Aldous Huxley

This dissertation is a study of the literature of Aldous Huxley, especially his fiction, with a particular focus on the issue of identity. By observing his representations of the self and Others, and by elucidating his attitude towards political and cultural problems related to Others, I aim to reveal ways in which Huxley and his work remain significant, but which have not been much studied in recent literary research. In each chapter, I provide close readings of texts while considering the historical context and critical theories of today.

Chapter I, “Self,” discusses Huxley’s early writing on the Great War, such as the novella “Farcical History of Richard Greenow,” and argues for Huxley’s conscious and unconscious scepticism towards the concept of the self—sharing some perspectives with Sigmund Freud, Melanie Klein and more recent critics of psychoanalysis. Chapter II, “Women,” looks at Point Counter Point with regard to motherhood and femininity, and discloses the radical potential of the text to question or subvert these concepts, also taking into account two female characters that were modelled on Naomi Mitchison and Nancy Cunard, as well as gender criticism provided by Julia Kristeva and Judith Butler. Chapter III, “Savage,” analyses Brave New World, focussing upon the savage reservation and the hero savage, comparing them with their sources in contemporary anthropology in order to demonstrate an anti-imperial aspect of the text, which has relevance to subsequent postcolonial criticism including that of Edward W. Said. Chapter IV, “Masses,” examines Huxley’s later work, especially the utopian ideas reflected in Eyeless in Gaza and Island, and addresses his compassion for the masses, using Marxist viewpoints including that of Fredric Jameson.

Huxley consistently questioned the concept of identity in a way that might now seem postmodernist, stressing the fragmented nature of the self and the gap between the self and Others, but especially after the mid-1930s he began to carefully restore the concept, fearing that loss of identity leads to loss of meaning in life, in history or the world in general; thus, he proposed another form of identity, based on his scientific and religious assumption of the “unity” that lies behind all creatures and existences, and which anyone can freely and equally access by positioning themselves within this order of totality. Unlike the generally accepted image of Huxley as a solitary and conservative intellectual, Huxley in fact forged his identity under the constant and great influence of his relationship with Others, and reacted to contemporary political and cultural issues related to Others with unique sensibility and imagination; this is what ensures that the significance of Huxley and his literature extends far beyond his time, right up to the present day.

Keywords

  • PR English literature
  • Alodous Huxley
  • Modernism
  • Utopia