Thursday, August 24, 2017

"You Seem to Take It for Granted That I Murdered My Wife"

ALDOUS HUXLEY will never be famous for his crime fiction, but with "The Gioconda Smile" (1921), published when he was just starting out, he did devise a memorable tale of passivity, passion, and femicide years before Francis Iles; Fred Dannay thought enough of it to do a reprint in EQMM, but by then Huxley was world famous for other things.

"The Gioconda Smile."
By Aldous Huxley (1894-1963).
First appearance: The English Review, August 1921.
Reprints: Hearst’s International, September 1922; Argosy (U.K.), May 1943; and Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine, September 1950.
Collected in Mortal Coils (1922), Collected Short Stories (1957), and The Gioconda Smile and Other Stories (1984).

Dramatized as Mortal Coils—A Play (1948).
Filmed as A Woman's Vengeance (1948).
Novelette (19 pages as a PDF).
Online at Project Gutenberg (HERE; two clicks may be necessary) (HTML) and at Online Literature (HERE) (HTML).

"When love dies,"
the song says, "it don't rest in peace." All Mr. Hutton has ever wanted is a quiet life unburdened by strong commitments, a life in which he could indulge his appetite for the finer things and scratch that "vague itch" for the company of women that he just can't resist—being, as he admits to himself, "wanton and imbecile and irresponsible." Caught in a loveless marriage, he chafes at society's conventions and expectations and secretly yearns for release from them—but when that opportunity finally comes, Mr. Hutton will discover that, indeed, love "don't rest in peace," as he finds himself the prime suspect in a murder . . .

Typos: "How often his had heard"; "only the sound of the ram was left"; sloppy punctuation on both websites.

- A renowned intellectual, Aldous Huxley will always be remembered for his dystopian satire Brave New World (1932); an ample article about him is on Wikipedia (HERE).
- In the story Huxley makes references to several real-life individuals: Agrippina (HERE), George Robey (HERE), and George Smith (HERE).

- Huxley had the rare opportunity to work on a film version of "The Gioconda Smile"; see Wikipedia (HERE) and the IMDb (HERE).
The bottom line:

No comments:

Post a Comment