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Mortal Coils is a collection of five short fictional pieces written by Aldous Huxley in 1921.
The title uses a phrase from Hamlet, Act 3, Scene 1:
- ... To die, to sleep,
- To sleep, perchance to dream; aye, there's the rub,
- For in that sleep of death, what dreams may come,
- When we have shuffled off this mortal coil,
- Must give us pause ...
The stories all concern themselves with some sort of trouble, normally of an amorous nature, and often ending with disappointment.
- "The Gioconda Smile" is a mixture of social satire and murder story, which Huxley later adapted into a film called A Woman's Vengeance (1948).
- "Permutations Among the Nightingales" is a play concerning the amorous problems encountered by various patrons of a hotel.
- "The Tillotson Banquet" tells of an old artist who was thought to be dead, and is "rediscovered"; a not entirely successful honorary dinner is organised for him.
- "Green Tunnels" is about the boredom of a young girl on holiday with her family. She develops a romantic fantasy, and is ultimately disillusioned.
- "Nuns at Luncheon" is a second-hand story told of a nun falling in love. The story mocks the writer's process, a concept Huxley used in his novel Crome Yellow.