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Published by Chatto & Windus Ltd in 1932
Published by Flamingo Modern Classic - 1994
Duration: 237 pages
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Huxley was born two days after my great grandmother in 1894, she would've read Huxley and I wondered whether she'd treated 'Brave New World' as a piece of frivolous fiction, or as a valid prose to an emerging new world? Her own longevity of 99 years, witnessed what was feared at the end of 1918, an American super-power - Huxley wrote about it in his journals, the inevitable acceleration of American world dominance, brought about by WWI (four years of putting resources into combat policies) one of Huxley's nightmarish scenarios, along with genetic interference. The roaring twenties was ultimately a quest to see off Americanisms, resulting in a celebratory decade that stimulated a vogue revival. "Look at us, we don't need the Yanks," attitude and they boastfully did their 'swinging as if they were winning'; but there was only so much you could do to stem back the wave of over-the-pond economical might, and inevitably, overtime the modern world bowed to capitalism's tide of prosperity, in the shape of chunky mobility; hence American's Ford was founded in 1903. At the crux of the narrative is the satirical date of 632 AF (After Ford) - a punchy symbolism of capitalism's global domination, and not even the passage of time escapes being branded, every year manufactured on a time production-line - moving 'Ford-ward'?
In 1926 Huxley did experience America, and found his portrayal of the nation decidedly meek to the real-thing. Post depression he documented a relentless vulgarity beyond what he'd envisaged. Huxley managed to do what Kafka never did, to visit the World State of America. 'Kafka's Amerika' was the brain-child for Huxley's 'Brave New World' - Kafka plants the seed, for Huxley to heed. Move 'Ford-wards' over half a millennia and what was a 'Kafka hunch' becomes a Huxley 'World State' - devoid of humanity. The science-fiction is on par with 'The Time Machine' by H G Wells; time travel to when our utopian path is fulfilled, and our dystopia recognised. There is always a cost to perfection and greed - 'Brave New World' is a stark reminder of what the results are of elaborate state exploitations and human interference - it enters the prophecy vault where literature rules, 'its greatness comprehended' as the words of Huxley points with a croaked finger at flawed human-kind. By 1931, Huxley endeavoured to learn about the worse of America - prompted another trip. A voyeur may feel Huxley had a great sense of gratification at seeing how the mighty had fallen during this era of depression following the financial crash; instead Huxley's views intensified and a 'Brave New World' rose like a phoenix out of the flame of fiscal woes.
There's no hero, a Nicholas Cage type whose gormless features gets the smeared oil treatment; clichéd to the cusp of cheesy kitsch - the book has no protagonist, or a handsome central character to pour adoration and sympathy over. Quite right too, Huxley despised Wellsian descriptive ramblings of verbose utopian beauty and that natural bliss and total spiritual enlightenment excretes from the pores of our utopian selves. Why have a natural high, when biologic technology can do it for you, via 'soma' a drug that is freely available? Pharma-corps is another part of capitalism's big plan for human-existence, 'drugs' are designed to be indispensable, stitched into daily rituals; 'machinations of existence' - a controller of health and emotion, which equals greater productivity. Lawrence wrote about the so-called 'aboriginal Americans' in his travel diaries named 'Mornings in Mexico' (1927) - Brave New World is heavily influenced by them - thereof could be seen as a homage to D H Lawrence works who died in 1930. The undeniable fondness that Lawrence had of primitivism however didn't transmit to Huxley, the simple animistic charm morphed into Ford-infested imperialism. This by definition whetted my palate - operant social conditioning which inadvertently embezzle class structures.
I embraced the soliloquizing tempo of the book; the pattern of words, dialogues composed of a rhythmic pulse - the pulse of an underlining 'World State' (C-I-S - Community, Identity and Stability). What comes with greater sexual freedoms and diminished morals conveys the opposite for procreation, human making factories control populous - oxymoronic, although only a brave man would bet against procreation had been tampered with too the extent which technological biogenetics overrides nature itself, the consequences of human intervention at the core. 'Social instruments for stability' is a prophecy from the high order, the glue is solidarity hymns. "Ford, we are twelve; oh make us one - Like drops from the Social River - Oh makes us now together run. As swiftly as thy shining Fliiver." The hand sign of the cross is replaced with the letter 'T' referring to the 'Ford Model T;' the first manufactured 'Ford Motor' to be 'for' the people, rather than 'for' the privileged. "Feel how the Greater Being comes! Rejoice and in rejoicings, die! Melt in the music of the drums! For I am you and you are I." The 'Greater Being' as in the coming of 'Twelve-in-One;' known as the 'approaching atonement of solidarity'. They fist-beat chest tattoos, instead of engaging in timid clap-happy buoyancy, denoting the symbolism of a deeper embedded belief rather than engaging in the gullible deism of today.
Prosperity is a religion, under the system of big brother's 'World State' devised by a well-oiled caste structure, colour coded in regards to rank or morality: "Controllers", "Alphas", "Betas", "Deltas", "Gammas"; (highest to the lowest rank in society). Purposefully written with no 'actual' central characters - the most fascinating a short 'Alpha' who'd got biogenetic dysfunctions which made him short rather than tall. A sizeable difference - colour and caste code questioned - Huxley's quest of 'World State' social and economical perfection doesn't exist, moves high in the ranks of dystopia literature, alongside Orwell's 'Nineteen Eighty Four' - Aldous Huxley died on the same day as US President, John F Kennedy; 22 November 1963 - nearly fifty years ago. Two great minds extinguished in one fateful day, one in Hollywood, the other in Dallas. 'Brave New World' indeed has the capacity of engineering perplex social comment in the genre of science fiction - not easily done - alas, Huxley succeeded where others have failed. Luckily no-one will be around in six hundred years time; 'Brave New World' is likely to be.
Highly recommended. Five star rating.©1st2thebar 2013
I recently started reading through my giant pile of books I bought and said I'd eventually get round to reading - Brave New World by Aldous Huxley being one of them! I'd read a bit about it and knowing that it's quite a well known and liked book is probably what lead me to it in the first place. I bought this book from a library, however it is available in Waterstones for around £8 and on Amazon for the usual discounted price of around £2.
The storyline of Brave New World focuses around a time set in AF (After Ford) in the years 632. The world has changed from the one that we live in today, and those living in 632 can't imagine how the past people (us!) used to live and frown upon it. The world that those in the novel face is a clean organised system where marriage or relationships between two people are frowned upon and babies no longer need to be produced as there is an artificial system making humans for the world.
I found the mass producing of humans and how they change them through conditioning to be one of the most interesting parts of the book. Throughout the novel we are introduced to what are basically the classes of society, the Gammas who are changed from their development to enjoy the jobs that normally would be disliked, the Deltas who are slightly higher up from the Gammas yet still not as high in ranks, the Betas who have some of the smarter roles in society and the Alphas who are the highest ranking and just below the Controllers.
There isnt really a main character throughout the novel, however we are introduced to some important characters throughout that make up most of the storyline. They aren't really characterised further really, as Huxley doesn't really focus on character development. First, we are introduced to Lenina who is a Beta and fully abides and understands everything the world wants of her, and she doesn't ever really question it. Secondly, there is Bernard, a stunted Beta who many believe to have been accidentally tampered with when he was created causing him to be different to all the Betas.
These two characters are what leads us to the main part of the novel and what eventually forms the most thrilling parts of the novel. They are sent to the human society which function outside the world, and its great seeing the contrast that they feel against the society and how much they wish to be back in the world where nothing is wrong and everything looks perfect. However, before leaving this society, they meet a man called John, later to be known as "The Savage" who wishes to escape. He manages to escape to the new world with Bernard and Lenina however this leads into the best parts of the novel and raises many questions from the minute he does. Will he be accepted? Can he adapt to this new world? How will others react to someone so different from themselves?
For the modern readers, I would say that probably the main thing that this book will be associated with is the idea of genetic tampering and the possibilites it can have for the future. The novel is interesting and does provide some thought provoking questions about the idea of society and how many believe that as people we are somewhat conditioned within society.
I have to be honest and say that while I did find the storyline to be very interesting and immersive in the writing, it is not one of the books that I have found to be most memorable. While I would read it again and would recommend it to friends, if asked what some of my favourite books were, I don't think this would spring to mind. However, as I was so interested in what would happen at the end, maybe upon second reading I will prefer it.
The book is well written, as it did keep me wanting to read on and find out about all the world that Huxley created. While it is very description based and not really about the characters speaking and developing their stories, I found this not to be a problem at all, as Huxley writes in such a way it's almost as if the characters don't have to be developed further than they are.
Overall, I did find this book enjoyable to read and was motivated to the end to find out what happens in the end and whether there really was a solution to this newly developed world almost. Although I don't think it will top my favourite books of all time list, I still think it was very enjoyable and would recommend it to anyone looking for a good science fiction novel.
This book is outstanding, and it is very scary how in 1931 Aldous Huxley managed to forsee a nightmare world of state intervention and power over all the people. They are told when to get up, when to exercise, when to eat and when to congregate, even when to have sex to repopulate the species.
Death is no longer feared as all are asked to leave productive lives and assume positions in society that give an acceptable quality of live and attainment. This novel was based on HG Wells novel Men Like Gods (which is the Disney version of Brave New Word). Huxley set out to make an anti-utopian novel and he does succeed!
This is one of those books that can be directly compared with modern contemporary life in the 20th century, this was one of the critiques of Huxley but utlimately became a strength. To read this book is to realise that truth is not stranger than fiction but fiction can become the truth!
I read this book when I was about 17, but could hardly remember anything about it, so decided to give it another go. It was much better the second time around, although slightly marred by my having read '1984' in the meantime and so drawing the predictable comparisons between the two.
Brave New World is a science-fiction story set in A.F. 632- 632 'After Ford'- which I suppose would make it about A.D.2561. It's either a Utopian or Dystopian society, depending on how you look at it, in which 'mother' and 'father' have become vulgar terms, babies are decanted in bottles and fidelity is frowned upon. There is an artificial caste system ranging from the tall and beautiful Alphas down to the mentally and physically stunted Gammas who are deliberately starved of oxygen as foetuses to enable them to actually enjoy the more lowly jobs required by society.
This is a world where people are entertained by 'Feelies' rather than Movies, women wear belts full of contraceptives and toddlers indulge in 'erotic play' with one another. Children are mass produced and undergo a long process of 'hypnopaedia' to condition them to behave in the manner expected from their caste. Anyone who begins to think independently is exiled to an island, where they can't affect other people, and woe betide any woman who gets pregnant.
It lacks an explicit protagonist, although the character of John, referred to as 'The Savage' is the one I felt the most sympathy for, as he has the most human emotions. Incidentally, I am almost certain that John is the prototype for the main protagonist of Margaret Atwood's 'Oryx and Crake'.
Instead of characterisation or plot, this book relies heavily on descriptions and expositions of this new and quite frightening portrayal of the future. It mainly follows several different Alpha humans who take varying views on the world they find themselves in, although sadly it doesn't really delve explicitly into the moral meaning of the story until a Plato-style philosophising 'controller' is introduced towards the end. If this had been addressed earlier it may have made more sense out of the narrative.
As I said, it is all too easy to draw comparisons between this and George Orwell's '1984'. This one was published in 1932, and was designed to warn against the way the world was going at the time. It came just after the economic boom in America, in which mass production became mainstream and Ford began to mass-produce motor cars (hence his station as God in the story). It may have been more shocking at the time than it is now. After all, all the Victorian sensibilities that Huxley would have been strongly influenced by are turned on their head here- promiscuity becoming a part of societal etiquette, for example. His fear of the way things were going in 1932 is clearly evident when reading the book.
However, the real question is- is this story still relevant to today's readers? '1984' is really concerned with political change, and portrays a dystopia which has clearly come about gradually, over a long period of time, and is therefore all the more frighteningly plausible. 'Brave New World' is less plausible, in that things have changed completely, though they are set much further on into the future.
Lots of people seem to think that the main thread of the story for contemporary readers is the issue of genetic engineering. I would disagree with this. What I find the most frightening in this story, and what makes it particularly relevant even today, is the way in which people are conditioned to behave and to think in whatever way is most convenient for the good of society. What's more, they generally don't question things at all, and seem to have no individual consciousness whatsoever.
Also, the 'philosopher' believes that society is better off this way, as without strong emotions such as love for other people or the ability to think independently, no one is unhappy, everyone is satisfied all the time and therefore society as a whole is much better off. He explains that truth and beauty have been sacrificed for happiness. In this way, you could see this society as a Utopia, rather than a Dystopia. Still- is it really possible to have happiness without truth and beauty? That is the question Huxley poses here, and it's an interesting one.
While I liked the premise of this book, I feel that Huxley could have developed the plot and characters much more to create a more believable and more emotive vision of the future. Nonetheless, this remains in literature one of the milestones of the last century, and ought to be on everyone's reading list.
I wanted to get through this review without referring to George Orwell's 1984, but...well, there we go - 10 words, and that's out of the window. Everybody has heard of 1984, and even if they haven't read it, understands the basic concept: dystopian future of the Earth in, you guessed it, 1984, where everything is controlled by an oppressive dictator in the form of Big Brother. It's a wonderful read, and I highly recommend it, but I can no longer describe it as the greatest prophetic dystopia painted in the 20th century. Not since reading Aldous Huxley's 'Brave New World'.
The two books are actually quite different, although you will hear them compared to one another in numerous places, including this review. Part of these differences can surely be attributed to the time difference: '1984' was written almost two decades later than 'Brave New World', which was published in 1932. As those who paid attention in history will remember, something called World War Two happened in between the writing of these two novels, and this can be attributed to the differences in the authors' outlooks - worldwide conflicts can often alter opinions.
It is probably also the reason that the world painted in 'Brave New World' is a far more cheerful one than the vision of the future seen in '1984'. In fact, the entire world is built around maintaining the happiness of the people inhabiting it. Everybody loves their work, since they are 'conditioned' to love it; there are no diseases, no heartbreaks, no real pain; recreational activities, including sex, are actively encouraged; and should you still find something to dislike, the perfect drug, soma, is there to provide a holiday. The world is more a utopia than a dystopia, simply because everyone is happy.
I won't spoil the plot for you, because I wouldn't want you to miss out on the experience of reading this book for yourself, but the basic idea is something like the following. In this future world, there are some uncivilized camps, where the 'savages' live - life in these camps is much like normal life, as it was in the 1930s. 'Brave New World' explores the reaction of one of these savages exposed to the new world. It makes for fascinating reading, and will really make you think about the world and re-evalute your attitude to life. Few books will make you think quite like this one, and the different characters, with their clashing opinions, are masterfully created to show the various aspects of the utopia.
The most magical parts of the book are to be found in Huxley's imaginings of the world in the future. Again, I won't spoil any of them for you, but they are remarkable, astonishingly ingenious, perfectly designed, and, in some cases, very, very prophetic. His vision was amazing, and the way he sees the world changing is extremely interesting.
The messages in this book are almost endless, and I'm sure it will be one where you see new things with each new reading. They are also very individual to you - your own values will reflect the way you see Huxley's vision, as a paradise, or a nightmare. Personally, I found it very hard to choose between the two extremes: a world with no problems, and constant, if moderate and slightly dull, happiness, or a flawed world with daily pains, but the occasional euphoric thrill that is simply unobtainable in Huxley's controlled world. The concept eventually boils down to an age-old conflict: science and progress against creativity and passion. Whichever side of the fence you sit will influence the way you feel about Huxley's utopia/dystopia.
'Brave New World' is a very deep book, but with a simple concept: how would we cope with a perfect world (meaning one without problems)? As you uncover both sides of the argument, it becomes a more and more difficult decision. The storytelling is, at times, undiluted genius: the characters are wonderfully crafted; the inventions are astonishing, especially since many are now actually feasible; the changes in the world projected by Huxley have, in several cases, actually happened; it is one of those rare books where everything is explained and perfectly fits together; the prose is sublime; and the messages are hugely powerful, and are sure to carry a meaning to everyone. It really isn't a book to miss, and provides a wonderful experience that is sure to change your opinion and make you think about the world in different ways.
If I had to choose between this and '1984', Huxley's effort would win my approval. His predictions are more imaginative, and yet more realistic, more truthful, somehow. The dilemma he creates is ultimately unsolvable, since the flawless world has it's own flaws. It is very easy to read, and a truly brilliant story.
Set far in the future, this classic novel is more a metaphor of how Huxley saw the world around him than how he envisioned the future.
This book challenges us to redefine our views and conceptions of what is acceptable, and shows us how good ideas can so easily go bad if taken to excesses.
Huxley was a well read man on all kinds of subjects, and this is reflected in his writing. We are brought face to face with some startling ideas, such as the abolition of vivaporous (pregnancy followed by birth) reproduction and instead babies being kept in bottles. To us this idea may seem repulsive but to the people of the future it is simply efficient.
He also shows us how hypocritical we can be when thinking of history. For example, the characters in his tory think of a family as "disgusting and dirty", much as we might think of an outside toilet. THis book raises many challenging questions which the reader is hard pressed to answer.
This book is very hard to read and I would DEFINITELY not reccomend it for younger readers.
I liked Brave New Wolrd alot, after reading it I tried to read Orwells' 1984 but found that too dated and uniteresting compared to this book,
Aldous Huxley's interest in hallucinogen's is sewn into the plot along with the visions of a dystopian uptopia. (a contradiction I know but I seem to get that from the book). It's a meeting of skewed old world value's of the savage and the new world order,
this clash ends tragically as the experiment goes awry. also the adventures of a skeptical member of the new society that is dabbling in the dangerous territory of questioning authority and getting so close to the island of his dreams,
although in his mind leaving this society he is accustomed to would be a nightmare, this would make him perfect to be a world controller which is implied somewhat in the book,
the other members of the society and his workplace do not understand his inferences and the values of the savage and are so brainwashed that it goes straight over their heads,
this comes to a head when the savage is offered to 'take' a woman, which he thinks is wrong and problems ensue,
also an outcasted member of the society return's with the savage and lavishes in her return, ufortunately she gets too wrapped up in the feelings she used to experience on 'soma' and over does it ending in more tragedy and mixed feelings.
I do not want to totally spoil the plot if I already haven't, but I find it hard not to express the intricaies of the plot, mixed with the narrow thinking of the general populus due to their consumeristic society and fordian values, and when it all gets too much a drug to take all their cares away.
I recommend this book for reading to anyone used to any genre although if you start to like this genre there a few books in it and all differ in the audience which enjoys them.
A great book in all although the dyphoric end may leave you wanting to know what happened after the book ends.
Sometimes I think that, for someone with an A level in English literature, I'm not very well read. Unfortunately I spent a lot of my time reading politics and philosophy books, so rarely get round to reading fiction for leisure. We did do Orwell's Animal Farm for GCSE and Margaret Atwood's The Handmaid's Tale in Sixth Form but, despite their relevance to someone studying political ideas, the likes of 1984 and Brave New World had sat too long on my Amazon wishlist. This summer, I decided to try to put that right.
Perhaps part of the reason for my delay was the feeling already familiar with the societies described in each, though it occurred to me I was almost totally ignorant of the main characters or plot. Nonetheless, I chose Brave New World first, partly because I knew it involved genetic programming and such, and also because I'd already read Huxley's essays Brave New World Revisited (which concern the state of society in 1958).
Brave New World opens, conveniently enough, on a tour of the Central London Hatchery and Conditioning Centre, which is the perfect way to familiarise the reader with the technology and society of the future, and spend some time scene-setting. No time's wasted spelling out every detail, however, a lot is left to the reader to imagine - for example, high-tech versions of tennis and golf are mentioned but never explained.
The society of the future - 632 After Ford, to be precise - is highly ordered, after the production line. Everyone is assigned a caste, before birth, and takes their place in the hierarchy - from the intellectual Alpha pluses who rule, to the Epsilon minuses who perform the most medial tasks. Religion, high art, the family and emotions are amongst the things that have been banished, in favour of peaceful, stable and happy existence. Free sex is encouraged for recreation (not reproduction), and if anyone feels unhappy the drug soma provides all the escape they could wish for, without negative side effects.
What's interesting is that this is not a totally negative vision - it's one where you can see an appealing idea taken too far, where other ideals and values (individuality, freedom) have been sacrificed to an all-consuming desire for peace and stability, following the Nine Years' War of 141AF. It could be a commentary not only on use of new genetic technology, but the arguably impoverished Benthamite view of happiness, that holds 'push-pin as good as poetry' - and therefore neglects higher ideals of achievement and knowledge in favour of 'bread and circuses', 'alcohol and reality TV' or 'soma and sex' as means to promoting universal happiness. It could be a comment on our own society, and what really makes life worthwhile, as much as a scary or prophetic vision of the future.
While the setting may be well known, the story itself might not be (as it wasn't to me). Essentially it involves a few higher caste (Alpha and Beta) members of society who are, or become, somewhat dissatisfied with their society. Bernard Marx is, despite careful genetic programming, marked out by physical difference, making him an outsider and individual. Nonetheless, he uses his position to take Lenina Crowne on a sort of nature tourism trip to a 'Savage Reservation', to see Indians who haven't been 'civilised' - who live in families, amongst dirt, and practice primitive religion.
It's when they bring back two of the savages that they are led to see their society in a new light. He is disillusioned with what he sees of civilisation, with what has been sacrificed, and they too come to see what they may be missing.
Personally, I found the overall social vision more inspiring than the actual story. The main characters are all variously flawed, which makes them realistic, but it's hard to identify with anyone. I suppose in a way this merely rubs home part of the moral - there's no black and white, good and evil - Mond and Bernard each have different ideals, and neither are wholly right or wrong, they're just different schemes of values. Mond genuinely wants to run society to make people happy, while Bernard doesn't like it.
Not that it's a bad story, in terms of characters, plot or telling - indeed there are some good uses of sharp cuts between different locations, some twists, and matters left to the reader to fill in - but it's the social commentary that gives this book its enduring appeal and that's at least as relevant today as ever. Writing in defence of the 'open society' (liberal democracy), during and immediately after WWII, and against what he saw as its totalitarian enemies, Karl Popper was to warn that the goal of making men happy is always a dangerous one for society. The justifications offered by Mond are, however, truly striking: "whenever the masses seized political power, then it was happiness rather than truth and beauty that mattered" (p.210) and "Happiness is never grand" (p.195).
It's a book deep in references and detail. Whether or not Huxley had Plato's Republic in mind, for example, I found that another useful comparison - for though he lacked the technology of Brave New World, he had similar concerns for unity and society above the individual - even if he'd condemn the Fordian regime's indifference to truth and immoral distractions. More explicitly there are, as the title suggests, numerous allusions to Shakespeare (Othello, Romeo and Juliet and, of course, The Tempest), which it may profit the reader to be aware of.
In fact, so rich are the references, I think this is a book where one who wants to pick up everything - which, of course, isn't necessary, as the main points are more obvious - may well want notes. While some names have obvious significance (Marx, Trotsky, Lenina, Bonaparte, Darwin, Rothschild), I was left wondering if I'd missed something in others. And it took me a while to recognise the Charing-T tower had replaced our cross, as Ford's model-T had replaced the cross in quasi-religious significance.
My edition is the Vintage Classics - cover price £7.99 but currently £6.39 on Amazon - though I was slightly disappointed to find, after buying and reading it, that for the same price, they also do a Readers Guide Edition (ISBN: 0099496976) with an extra 60 or so pages. At the end of the day, however, the most rewarding experience is reading it and thinking for yourself.
Brave New World by Aldous Huxley is one of the true science fiction giants. Good sci-fi is supposed to make you think; this book has the capacity not just to do that but to change your whole perspective on the human race.
It concerns a savage being brought into the civilised world by a highly intelligent but unhappy man who just cannot fit into the society around him. In this society everyone alive is a product of genetic engineering, and designed so as to fit and be happy about their position in life whether scientist or cleaner. Literature that can make you think is banned, much of the happiness is drug-induced, and everybody thinks the system works because they are happy. Prejudices are pre-programmed by hypnopaedia (sleep-teaching) and morals are a thing of the past the slogan everyone is taught from age 0 upwards is, everybody belongs to everybody else. All the females are sterilised and long-term relationships are not just rare but prohibited.
The story-line concentrates on the savage`s experiences in this brave new world only to find that it doesn`t live up to his expectations and dreams. Subplots include Bernard Marx (the person who brought him to the civilised world) and his quest for happiness and a love-live. He also finds disillusionment with society, yet still craves what it has to offer him. For a while the savage is the key but it doesn`t last.
If you`re thinking I`ve given too much of the plot away here and why on earth have I written a review which tells you what happens in the book, have no fear. That brief synopsis only begins to scratch the surface of this intriguing book. Also I usually tell you a bit more about the characters, but in this case I feel it would reveal too much, so instead I`m going to give you a couple of quotes that illustrate the mindset of some of the people involved.
"Never put off till tomorrow the fun you can have today," she said gravely.
"Two hundred repetitions, twice a week from fourteen to sixteen and a half," was all his comment. The bad mad talk rambled on. "I want to know what passion is," she heard him saying. "I want to feel something strongly."
"When the individual feels, the community reels," she pronounced.
"Well, why shouldn`t it real a bit?"
But Bernard remained unabashed.
"Adults intellectually and during work hours," he went on. "Infants where feeling and desire are concerned."
That passage reveals much about Marx`s character and the fact that it clashes so "dangerously" with the prevailing attitudes of society. Exemplifying this attitude is the following short quote from the Resident Controller for Western Europe, Mustapha Mond.
"Try to realise what it was like to have a viviparous mother." This was a question not designed to promote thinking but to elicit horror; which, thanks to the training of the citizens, it did. (Incidentally if like me the word viviparous has you reaching for a dictionary, it means to bring forth young [out of the womb] alive, not hatching them by means of eggs.)
This is much more than science fiction; like some of Asimov`s work, it often has more connection with psychology. It`s not just a vision of the future but an astonishingly, and sometimes disturbingly accurate assessment of the mindset of today. It is no mere satire; just the world of Huxley`s time taken to its ultimate and terrible conclusion. I remember reading this book when I was about 14 and not understanding much of it, but somehow it always stayed in my mind that this was a book I should read when I was older. Well now I am and my feeling wasn`t wrong!
The increasing trend of voyeuristic programme viewing (a la Big Brother and the other ironically named "reality" TV shows) makes this book seem even more plausible in its portrayal of people and their view of entertainment. It is obvious from reading it that Huxley found this extremely distasteful in his day. I wonder what he would make of the modern entertainment world?!?! First published in 1932, it warned of the dehumanising potential of scientific and material advances (and perceived advances). Some of these predictions have definitely come true, though the community spirit that, for instance, certain websites create shows that technological progress can also bring people together who would never otherwise have met, so it`s not all doom and gloom!
This is a great book, but not a particularly easy read. If you like your fiction nice and fluffy and happy, then this will not be your cup of tea at all. If you like books that not only have a strong plot but are also thought-provoking, you not only should read this but you NEED to.
Amazon.co.uk have it listed for £6.39 (paperback) but you shouldn't have any problem finding this in any good bookstore.
The term ?Dystopia? has evolved as a synonym for anti-Utopia; a Utopia referring to a theoretical ?perfect society? often portrayed in the science fiction genre. The novels Brave New World, (Aldous Huxley) We (Yevgeny Zamyatin) and Nineteen Eighty-Four (George Orwell) pioneered this sub-genre of a futuristic society that appears Utopian in principle but in which a totalitarian government controls the population, whose freedom and thoughts are inhibited. A Dystopia novel explores the author?s nightmare vision of a possible future, in the event of aspects of contemporary society becoming dominant and powerful. The authors? fears and political views can be recognised throughout their novels and related to the author?s time and country of origin. The oppressive and futuristic society of George Orwell?s Nineteen Eighty-Four is widely known, with the book becoming one of the most recognised novels of the twentieth century, however Aldous Huxley dealt with similar notions of human oppression, albeit from a different angle, in his 1931 novel Brave New World. This review is admittedly much more an exploration of the issues and devices used to further the plot of Huxley?s novel and as such it would serve to spoil the ending for those who are planning to read it. I chose to study this novel, in conjunction with the other two previously noted, for my English Literature comparison of texts, as the idea of a nightmare future has always appealed to me as a form of fiction, however I will certainly rate the book according to its merits also. A FORDIAN SOCIETY The society of Brave New World is set in London in the year AF 632, approximately seven hundred years into the future. The World State
is a united society that is run by ten World Controllers, while the embryos of the entire population are grown in test tubes in government hatcheries; these predestined embryos are engineered into social classes, ranging from Alpha to Epsilon, and are assigned a lifestyle before they are even born. The community praise ?Ford,? the American businessman famous for the creation of production lines and automobile manufacture which led to the efficient society of the World State, and a clear play on words of ?Lord.? This use of irony shows Huxley?s contempt for industrialisation, and his notion of a man believing he is superior to God to the extent that a culture is based around his respect and worship illustrates Huxley?s personal disdain for Henry Ford and his ideals. Children and infants are subjected to conditioning from the repetition of slogans while they sleep and electric shock warnings when expressing an interest in forbidden activities. This ensures that the population have been brought up believing that their lives are perfect, and that they live according to the government?s rules. Family, love and imagination have been replaced by efficiency and constant, empty happiness. ?Community, Identity, Stability? is the motto of the State, as it has created a world where ?everyone belongs to everyone else,? ensuring the maximum possible happiness and sexual freedom, while the repeated slogan ?everybody?s happy now? ensures that the entire population believes this. The population?s entertainment is encouraged through consumer sports such as Obstacle Golf, they are conditioned to love making purchases and to replace broken objects and torn clothing: ?ending is better than mending.? Their base instincts are also managed by tactile motion pictures known as ?feelies? which always feature a simple plot and a large amount of sexual activity; sexua
l promiscuity with a number of different partners is also encouraged even from a very young age, long-term relationships being frowned upon due to the danger of family ideas developing. The existence of the drug soma also ensures the happiness of the population as it can provide an escape to a fantasy world for a set amount of time with no health risks; the Director of Hatcheries and Conditioning describes it as ?all the advantages of Christianity and alcohol; none of their defects.? Soma allows an escape at times when emotions may begin to surface, or when the user is alone and prone to contemplation. The ultimate goal of the governing body is the creation and maintenance of stability. While Orwell?s novel could be seen as a comparison to totalitarian Russia and Nazi Germany leading to forced slavery for a society, Huxley is much more concerned with a society attempting to achieve efficiency at all costs, and the dangers of genetic experimentation to achieve those ends. In his introduction, Huxley explains, ?The theme of Brave New World is not the advancement of science as such; it is the advancement of science as it affects human individuals.? While the society created in Brave New World is content to live out the shallow consumer lifestyle created by the government, free of the oppression found in Nineteen Eighty-Four, it is no less a nightmarish vision of the future. Occurring at a later date than Orwell?s novel, it depicts a time when the threat of opposition has been all but eliminated by absolute control over the genetics and thought processes of everyone, to the extent that such ?thoughtcrime? as existed in Orwell?s novel will never be available to their minds. The government of Brave New World use sex to their advantage in keeping the population in a constant state of happiness in pursuit of hedonism, even e
ncouraging ?erotic play? in children, although conditioning has ensured that love and attachment are no longer associated with the physical act. ONE-DIMENSIONAL CARICATURES The protagonist of the novel is John ?the Savage,? a man born outside the Dystopia to residents of the World State; the Director of Hatcheries and Conditioning did not attempt to rescue his then-partner Linda when they were separated in the wilderness. Brought up in a religious society and exposed to such works as Shakespeare, John is appalled by what he sees in London. He feels love for Lenina but is disgusted by her desire to ?have? him in emotionless sex, and when crowds of intrigued children are brought in to view his mother?s corpse to expose them to death, he loses his patience and attempts to start a revolution. The population are not swayed by this, and see it as another interesting event, eventually tracking John down and forcing him to partake in an orgy. The following day, unable to cope with ?paradise? and his conflicting feelings for Lenina, he hangs himself; Huxley potently illustrates the hopelessness of life in the Brave New World. The other major character is Bernard Marx, a product of the conditioned society who was subject to a rare human error while being created, leading to his stature and appearance deviating from the norm. As such, he begins to question the lifestyle that he sees around him, confiding in his like-minded friend Helmholtz Watson. Bernard is an Alpha, the most privileged and intelligent social class, and his decision to expose Lenina to the alternate lifestyle experienced by residents of the Reservation is intended to show her that their own lifestyle should be subject to change. However, Bernard?s sudden rise to fame and adoration upon returning from the Savage Reservati
on with John leads him to forget his original intentions and enjoy the opportunity to have any woman he desires. He is caught off guard when John starts to rebel and eventually exiled to work in Iceland for his part in the disturbance. Although a less prominent female character, Lenina Crowne is the perfect example of the World State?s conditioning. She is an Alpha and adores sexual promiscuity, consumer sports and the feelies, but she is also prone to error and cannot cope with what she sees at the Savage Reservation. Lenina?s conditioned child-like mind and manners do not allow her to gain any deeper perceptions of life from her experience, and by the end of the novel she has not shown any progression. Lenina?s function seems primarily to demonstrate the extent of the society?s control through her inability to advance. The other characters in Brave New World are not explored with any depth as Huxley writes from a distanced viewpoint. Although John?s progression and discovery are detailed, most of the conditioned members of the World State are portrayed as one-dimensional caricatures, reflecting their uncomplicated lives and lack of imaginative thought. Every character is either overtly against, or in favour of, the ideals of the World State. Brave New World takes an objective and distanced view of the events, using scientific terms to explain concepts. A common theme of Dystopian literature is present in Huxley?s novel. The only threats existing threats towards the ?perfect? society is the protagonist characters attempting to gain their own freedom and salvation for their people, and this is dealt with by the leaders in a way that eliminates the ?X factor? without creating a martyr for their cause. STYLE I would recommend Brave New World to anyone who e
njoys reading science fiction classics as it is often underrated. It is certainly very dark and overlong in places, but has surprisingly aged very little: the use of personal helicopters, the lack of computers and the overlooking of nuclear power are the only things that date this book, but the themes are still and disturbing today. Since Huxley wrote this novel, the world has been through another World War and the threat of Cold War for decades, although thankfully there do not yet seem to be any serious repercussions of Ford?s production methods, apart from a low quality of life for many in poor countries. The book is also very manageable at around 200 pages, and is one that picks up towards the end. Brave New World is written as a political satire and a view of the future, presented as a distanced account of events. Beginning with a lengthy introduction by one of the characters to the godless, ?perfect? society, the main characters and plot are only introduced in the third chapter and are essentially used as Huxley?s example of life in his futuristic world.
A world where you were hypnotised into thinking a certain way, a world where love doesn't exist and a world where the Ford Company rule the world. Welcome to our Brave New World, everyone is now made, not born, everyone is born into a certain social life, and they are taught how to grow up, they are told how to live. Bernard Marx doesn't like this apparent utopian life and after visiting a savage reserve where people live the life of our ancestors (or from the readers point of view our present), Bernard begins to oppose this perfect world. The book is an ingenious look at future life on earth, creating a parody of modern life yet making his new world as sinister as possible. Silly little things such as the name of Big Ben being renamed 'Big Henry' (as in Henry ford maker of the ford car) show how Huxley has attempted to rip off modern life. Drug taking was always on the increase and this book now shows how the government practically tell people to take the drugs, underage sex has grown to an extent where 'erotic play' with children is basically encouraged! Huxley?s depicts ?Brave New World? in a specific way, he is content of making the entire concept ridiculous. Huxley is trying to show the direction that life is taking and as it shows a future society it creates a far larger response from the reader. The entire idea of being born to be a certain way, unable to think for yourself because you?re thinking the way you were taught to think as a child: ?Bottle of mine, It?s you I?ve always wanted! Bottle of mine, why was I ever decanted?? This song shows the loveless society and from the readers point of view this is a ridiculous. The fact that people are made as opposed to being born means they no longer have a Mother but a ?Bottle? and that the human race doesn?t have an elder to take care of them. The entire idea takes away the feel of being loved in the form of motherly love. Huxley.net shares the same
viewpoint claiming that ?Brave New World is an unsettling, loveless and even sinister place.? It isn?t just motherly love though some statements such as: ?You?re still going out with Henry Foster?? shows that even relationships are loveless especially with the idea that you move from person to person week by week. The ridiculous society continues with the becoming a ?Greater Being? where characters joined hands and tried to ?become one?, it seems almost like a cult. Combine the idea of Children indulging in erotic play at an incredibly young age and the heavy use of drugs and you have a reader that will be shocked and like Huxley?s view point on American society find it ridiculous. The irony begins when the characters within the book are shocked at how the reader lives his/her life whilst the reader is shocked on how they live theirs. It is a stunning portrayal so cleverly written, making you laugh and cringe at this new society that is so utterly ridiculous yet strangely compelling from the start until the end. I'm not a fan of Huxley books but Brave New World is special, it features far more depth and enjoyable discovery, you really do not know what will be thrown at you next. Excellent modern classic. Give it a go! Dringo.
What will the world be like in ten years time? Fifty? A hundred? Four hundred? As a genre, much of science fiction is set in the future, but most authors are simply attempting to entertain, not to seriously predict what form humanity’s future will take. And unfortunately, even the more skilful of the authors whose intention is to look at the actual *form* of the future often create visions which go so hopelessly out of date so quickly that one could almost ask why they bothered. ‘Brave New World’, therefore, is something of an oddity, perhaps because Huxley was not really part of the sf ‘scene’; not only was he writing this before the genre was seriously established, but Brave New World was one of the few pieces of speculative fiction of an sf kind he ever produced. Written more than a decade before George Orwell’s seminal dystopia ‘Nineteen Eighty-Four’, Brave New World should actually seem far more plausible to the modern reader than that celebrated tome. Huxley genuinely believed that his vision could happen, and looking around at the state of the world in the formative years of the new millennium, I would say he has an outside chance at being right. (Not, of course, that Huxley would have been pleased at his foresight). The book is set in a future (A.F. 632, where ‘AF’ stands for “After Ford” and indicates the number of years after Henry Ford first introduced mass production of cars) in which people are no longer a product of a mother-father union, are no longer born into a family unit and take their place in a society which is, seemingly, utterly alien to that in which we now live. Born in a Hatchery as one identical member of a large batch of babies, humanity’s young are then subjected to a rigorous routine of subliminal learning, aversion therapy, verbal indoctrination and chemical alteration, each of which are specifically tailored to the pre-determined c
aste of the child — from Alpha to Epsilon-Minus. Having grown up in this state the children then enter adulthood as members of a society whose individuals know nothing of history or indeed anything outside their direct sphere of employment besides a succession of meaningless games — each of which must have been pre-approved on the basis of consuming sufficient equipment to be of use to society — casual sex with as many partners as possible — since monogamous relationships are now taboo — and distractions such as television, ‘feelies’ (a form of cinema show in which the audience can physically feel the sensations experienced by the protagonists onscreen) and the omnipresent ‘soma’ — a hallucinogenic drug which can either make someone feel happy or (with larger doses) as though they have taken trips outside their own sphere of consciousness (a ‘soma-holiday’), with no side-effects whatsoever under normal usage. To provide a window upon this strange world of the future, Huxley presents us with two main viewpoint characters. The first, Bernard Marx, is experiencing dissenting thoughts, thoughts which would no doubt be considered counter to societal stability and could lead to the rather ominous punishment of being ‘sent to a secluded island’ if discovered. This dissatisfaction and dissent has seemingly arisen in the first place because, although officially and mentally an Alpha (one of the highest caste), Marx has a somewhat diminutive physical stature, and in a society in which the populace has a forcibly induced respect for large individuals as members of superior castes, this appearance is causing Marx to feel inferior and unhappy (unhappiness which he is unwilling to dispel with a simple dose of soma). That this was caused by alcohol being poured accidentally into the young foetus Marx’s blood-surrogate is a malicious rumour which is not altogether implausible
. At the start of the novel Marx has started to experience genuine feelings for a woman called Lenina Crowne. She, of course, does not know this and would be horrified if she did, but is quite open to the idea of spending some time with Marx for the much more honourable reason of pure sex and for the fact that Marx is one of the few people whose profession allows him visits to the Savage Reservation; it would be quite a novelty for her to go on holiday there with him. After overcoming some initial discomfort at the way in which Marx seems to take interest in aspects of the natural world and in the ancient ways of humanity rather than in games such as Obstacle Golf and the consuming of soma grammes, Lenina finally goes with Marx to the Savage Reservation, in America. The Savage Reservation is a wilderness enclosed by mesh fences within which a small group of humans, obviously descended from Amer-Indians, steadfastly cling to their ancient traditions and ways of life, including a religion which seems to be a hybrid of ancient Amer-Indian spiritual beliefs and Christianity. Whilst there, much to their horror, Marx and Crowne discover that a female member of civilised society, now very aged, is living with the savages after having been left behind many years ago by an excursion and having been unable to contact the outside world. Marx and Crowne have so far been astonished simply by the state of the ancient savages since they have never seen elderly-looking people before. That a member of civilisation could have thus degenerated is even more unthinkable — and this is when the hammer falls: the civilised woman now has a son(!!!). It is here we meet the second major viewpoint character. John (or the Savage as he is often known thereafter) accompanies Marx and Crowne, as well as his now-decrepit mother, back to civilisation to see first-hand the society of which he has been told from birth. Of course, John is a complete outsider an
d he is frankly appalled at what he is shown. Marx, meanwhile, has increased his standing within Alpha society as a result of his discovery and is treating John as little more than an exhibit. As the dissatisfaction of the pair increases their alienation from society becomes inevitable, as it seems that the differences between the natural human state to which John has been used and with which Bernard sympathises and the World Control state which now controls civilization in the name of Stability, are irreconcilable. The world surrounding me in this new millennium is one in which the majority of the people are told, and not even particularly subtly, what to think, say and do in almost every aspect of their lives. In an earlier time, refugees were viewed as people fleeing from persecution and hatred. People possibly under threat of death in their own country, who have come to our shores seeking help and some human compassion. But now the Daily Mail and The Sun tell us these people are actually Evil and that, despite our ability as a nation to find the funds to bomb to dust any country we wish, we simply cannot afford to pander to such scroungers. The shocking thing is simply that, given the opinion polls, most of our people swallow this line without even a question — so, if we can be made to abhor people fleeing either starvation or men with machetes by a few well written press editorials, then what else can we be made to abhor given a little effort by our ever benevolent rulers? If it were in the interest of the ruling class to persuade us that having babies was bad, would they really have any difficulty in achieving that aim? Frankly, I do not think so — Brave New World, step one. Our society is also one in which we are told what to enjoy. Whether it be mindless soaps, game shows, televised sports, actually playing sports, or whatever, we are fed a constant drip, drip, drip of items which are, objectively, pointless and whose main purpo
se is in actuality to distract the average citizen from the fact that their life, in the main, consists of constant drudgery, of thankless tasks which are performed in a desperate attempt to either pay necessary bills or to fuel yet more of the distractions. Once again, the press, both national and specialist, exists to surround such trivia and provide a sense of community and continuity. In reality, the difference between a PlayStation and a game of Obstacle Golf, or a heavy night at the pub and a few tablets of soma, is purely superficial; the function served within the life of the person actually engaged in such an act is actually equivalent. Brave New World, step two. Our society is now almost entirely market driven, and thereby, by implication, consumer driven. Once again this, we are told unanimously by the mainstream press on every minute of every day, is undoubtedly a good thing. The market provides what people want — what could be more desirable? So, of course, every set of huge job losses announced is received by the Government with a resigned shrug of the shoulders, and the market becomes an altar on which the livelihoods of ordinary people are routinely sacrificed. Of course, the fact that the market does not provide what people want, but only what they are able to *pay for*, and the associated fact that the market therefore tends to discriminate decisively against the less well off (i.e. ordinary people), is something not mentioned very often at all. For, indeed, we should not now consider ourselves as people with inalienable rights, but as consumers whose power to affect the world exists in direct proportion to our wealth. Encouraged, therefore, to increase our own power by being as active a consumer as we possibly can, we take yet one more step towards Huxley’s Brave New World. “Two hundred repetitions, twice a week from fourteen to sixteen and a half”, was an example of how a member of Huxley’s society
received their ingrained knowledge. Of course, his lot had it easy: we get as many repetitions as we can possibly handle, every time we walk down the street or turn on the television, for all of our lives. In many other ways, the world which we now inhabit contains the ominous foreshadowings of Brave New World. Anyone able to raise their level of critical thought above the daily dross, and to look at our society from a moral standpoint derived from outside the daily dose of tabloid wisdom (repeated nowadays, albeit more subtly, in the broadsheets) finds that the society in which we live has serious problems, contains a multitude of internal contradictions and is, quite honestly, not something of which anyone could be rightly proud. Of course, this kind of thought process does not happen very often — we are not trained to genuinely question the circumstances in which we live save for a certain amount of predesignated ‘safe’ common complaints — and when it does occur it either passes safely unnoticed or else is duly stepped on, hard. As an example of this, I ask the reader to consider the following question: when was the last time a major newspaper genuinely and critically questioned any fundamental aspect of British foreign policy? The answer, of course, is that it is difficult to remember any time at which the press generally decided that Britain was ‘in the wrong’ in its dealings with another country. It is, therefore, considered acceptable to moan about comparatively safer matters (such as anything domestic and trivial — the Millennium Dome? — or anything committed many years ago, such as the actions of our oh-so-glorious Empire or even the events of Bloody Sunday), but anything genuinely regime-challenging is Out Of Bounds. Of course, some would argue that the newspapers should not support the stance taken by another country against the UK out of patriotism, but I also have a problem with
this view. Firstly, I think it unjustifiable to take an immoral stance simply because it is the one currently taken by one’s own country — and in the long run this is actually harmful to the country in question given that that nation eventually gets a poor reputation for its dealings with others (although given the current international reputation of Britain, it is hard to see how we could make things any worse!). Secondly, and perhaps more importantly, I feel that this kind of patriotism is often utterly meaningless when examined in the spotlight. As an example, let us consider the near-hysteria created by the recent World Cup proceedings. Now I do not like football; if other people wish to watch and take pleasure from this kind of game then good luck to them (although I still think it is a simple societal distraction of the type outlined above), but I also reserve *my* right *not* to be interested. Imagine the scene, therefore, when, confronted by an avid football fan I am greeted with disbelief when I state that I have not watched a single match of the tournament thus far. “Not even the England matches?”. No, of course not, I don’t like football, and I couldn’t care less what happens, quite frankly. At this point, I am accused of “not supporting your country”, and here the media-bred, unquestioning mindset comes to the fore in one of its most obvious forms. Because, of course, the England football team is actually eleven men kicking around a bag of air in a game played against another eleven men; this has no genuine relevance to the welfare of England as a country except for the hysteria whipped up in the media and the consequent disappointment as the team made their exit. Something like the Bank of England interest rate, however, has enormous importance — raise the interest rate at the wrong time and watch the thousands lose their jobs. But, strangely enough, this proudly Patriotic England-
fan, who supposedly supported his country through thick and thin, did not have a clue as to the current interest rate level, nor could he be made to comprehend why I asked. It seems that, to him, it is more important to support the symbols which represent this country (which do not actually have an inherent meaning or importance in themselves whatsoever) than to take an interest in those things which affect the ordinary people living within it. This small-minded attitude, the sense of being told what to think, is, I think, where we came in, and this is also, fundamentally, why I believe Huxley’s seven-decade old vision to be of immense relevance today. Where George Orwell, in Nineteen Eighty-Four, used a recipe of human stupidity and his fear of potential political leanings to produce an infamous dystopia, Huxley shows us how those two factors combined with the equally worrying scientific possibilities might produce a society perhaps cosmetically more appealing, but deep down just as horrible and alien to the human condition, if not more so. I have argued above that the essence of our society in terms of both general attitudes within society itself and within the political establishment is moving slowly but noticeably towards a position equivalent to that described in Brave New World, where people are essentially bred to be content with small lives utterly devoid of meaning and full of mindless diversions and trivia whilst those in positions of authority and power get on with the business of increasing their wealth and prestige, and of course consolidating yet further their said authority and power. Perhaps where Huxley is most shockingly accurate, however, is actually in the scientific aspects of his work. Cloning, genetic engineering, and other such concerns were hardly staple discussion material within British society in 1932, and yet here Huxley seems to provide a warning from history of the possible consequences of misu
sing this kind of technology which seems hardly dated in meaning even if its terminology is not current. I am certainly no technophobe, however even scientists themselves agree that checks and balances within the scientific world are necessary lest multinational corporations run amok with hideous, but highly lucrative, technological schemes; here, in a fictional society whose inhabitants are trained to be maximum quantity consumers, is a vision of just what could be done. In many ways Huxley’s choice of name for one of his lead protagonists is an ironic one; *Karl* Marx’s legacy to humanity was a clear understanding of how capitalist society works and a message that such a system was exploitative and should be replaced with all due haste, even though, in the short term, it did seem to have its advantages. Bernard Marx is here presented with a similar outlook — although in some ways World Control society is better than what has gone before, it is still inherently a system which bends humanity to fit the wishes of the system rather than vice versa. In this light the love interest Lenina Crowne’s name also becomes interesting, and this could be a political comment on the then-new Soviet Union hidden within the text by Huxley. That Polly Trotsky is a minor character in the book who is, in fact, a child, provokes amusement on a similar theme. In general, then, Brave New World is a surprisingly light read considering its reputation, whose message is nonetheless very real and very relevant. The book is a brilliant reflection on the state of humanity and on the author’s pessimistic views about our possible future. It does, of course, have its flaws: as more than one person has previously commented, there are no strong female characters within the book as such, and as Huxley himself admits in his Foreword of 1946 the Savage is considerably too knowledgeable given his upbringing and life experience. However, I would argue that B
rave New World is not primarily a book about characters individually, but about society as a whole. It is on this basis that this novel has become more than a mere book: it is a bona fide cultural artefact. Indeed, even the phrase “brave new world” has become a common shorthand warning in everyday literary and journalistic usage. Even within the sphere of music the book still has influence: Iron Maiden used the book as the basis of the title track on their 2000 album ‘Brave New World’ (in fact, this is one of the reasons my attention was first drawn to this book), whilst the song of the same title on Motörhead’s 2002 album ‘Hammered’ provides Lemmy an ample opportunity to vent his frustration at the state of society in general in his characteristic take-no-prisoners manner. In this and many other instances, Huxley’s work is used as a ruler-straight stick, calmly pointing at a world gone mad. Brave New World has recently been re-issued in stylish dark blue paperback as part of the ‘Voyager Classics’ collection, book 5 in a 36-volume matching collection that includes titles by J.R.R. Tolkien, Isaac Asimov, Ray Bradbury, Arthur C. Clarke, Philip K. Dick, William Gibson, H.P. Lovecraft and Michael Marshall Smith. It retails at £7.99.
It is a rare occasion when a novel goes beyond the restraints of the science fiction genre. Often these boundaries consist of monsters or the monotonous presence of aliens; it was only when I read the fantastic new novel by Aldous Huxley that I truly appreciated what the genre of science fiction had to offer. Brave New World, rather than offering the token mythological tale of aliens or extraordinary beings, takes a realistic look at science fiction and poses the daunting question, what if? The genius of Aldous Huxley lies with in the actual storyline of Brave New World. Aldous Huxley not only examines the social structures in society today, but he then goes onto to examine what shall become of a race, dependant on the efficiency of technology. Aldous Huxley inevitably creates an abstract but compelling world filled with mystique and adventure. In this world, the class system is taken to a whole new orientation; previously humans were born through traditional methods, but now in a Brave New World, they are genetically coordinated in test tubes. Depending on the wishes of the scientist the baby, in his infant years can either start to develop into an Alpha (A brilliant human that shall receive the highest paying jobs and the most opportunities) or an Epsilon (A less knowledgeable human who is destined to the lower paying professions and generally a harder life). This is just the beginning of a thrilling novel and the consequences that this anti-utopia society reaps are nothing less than pure ecstasy to read. This arouses the question in the readers mind. What is happiness? Huxley explores this to a paramount extent. Everyone in this society is trained to like who he or she is. This is something that mankind has searched for, for many years - to be at peace with themselves. Because nobody is unhappy with their class or intelligence, an artificial utopia society is created. The novel only starts to evolve with t
he arrival of Bernard Marx. An unhappy character, dissatisfied with the hierarch situation to which he has been born into. Everyone around him is pleasant and satisfied but somewhere along the line, this sleep specialist has started to think and react for himself. Rather than having almost a collect consciousness, there is one individual who refuses to adopt the lifestyle, which has been dictated to him, thus a dystopia world is born. Imagine yourself the only one of your kind. How many of your reading this review can say that they would want to be Bernard Marx rather than a categorised Alpha? When reading a Brave New World you find yourself pondering on this exquisite thought provoking question. Although the Alpha's, Beta's, Delta's and Epsilon's of this world are trapped by the boundaries of a totalitarian state, they have achieved happiness, no matter who they are; why would one want to become an outsider to this extravagant utopia? Bernard Marx is just that and the psychological changes, which he must endure, are beautiful to watch Huxley unravel. Yes, there are no wars and people are generally satisfied with each other and themselves, but watch as one man observes the conditions of this happiness. Stoma, a drug that stimulates the synchronised behaviour of all is gravely encouraged. The interesting aspect of Bernard Marx's life is the fact that he is alone, with only cohort John to advise. The climax of Brave New World sees the interference of Mustapha Mond (a powerful ruler in the year 632 AF - After Ford) in the thoughts of Bernard Marx. It must be noted that the conclusion is slightly abrupt and unsuspecting but this is something that is relevant throughout the novel, the essence of suspicion; this I believe is the ingredient to a great novel. Brave New World is a tale of caution. To warn the evolution of society in the same manner that it is currently advancing. The reliance on te
chnology is a dangerous thing. Not being a previous enthusiast of science fiction, it was initially difficult for me to open the harsh pages of Brave New World. In retrospect this plunge was well worth it. Brave New World is a story of a very much possible future, it is clear that Huxley has closely studied the fashion of today's society. A close link can be drawn between Brave New World and the British fraction here in England. We are ruled by royalty, people who are born into luxury, not through achievements or hard work, but through genetics, enter a life that promises great things. This is very similar to the Alpha generation that is documented in Brave New World. With the ever advancing break throughs in technology, who can say what the future has to offer. Brave New World is just one possible future, the interpretation of one man; but when reading the bold phrases and allusions, Huxley will indefinitely make you believe in his shocking Brave New World.
What is perfect? Aldous presents us an answer that's not far from reality... Brave New World. An advanced playground where we can feel safe and free. A future where we don't have to worry about individuality, because there is none. We love our mobiles. We love buying new toys. And society will do anything to keep us happy.. No more pain. No more suffering. Everyone gets what he thinks he wants; a perfect program with an ocasional bug. In this story the bug is a thinking, feeling individual who knows loneliness. He's going to stand up and face the matrix.. And i do wish him luck. 'Cause life ain't easy. It's a struggle... Sometimes.. To discover what loneliness is. To discover that you do care.. That you really do want to make a difference.. But you still have fears.. Many fears.. You might have fear of imperfection.. Fear of failure.. Fear of strangers.. Fear of freedom.. Fear of mobiles... Fear of knowledge.. Fear of growing old.. Fear of society. Fear of sleep. Fear of being stared at. Fear of fears... Usually this person would do best by going to a psychiater to talk about those issues and to find a solution.. But in this day of age we are capable of cloning our way to perfection. Mistakes will be deleted.. No more of those retarded, old and ugly things that aren't fit for our community.. We will keep conditioning our environment.. Our vegetables.. The rest of our food. Our bodies.. Sillicons to substitute. Experiments with our personal and unique features.. Thousands of people carrying the same nose. Not to mention the amount of fake tits roaming this planet, forever doomed.. Just go on and take a look at your tomorrow. Links on the internet: http://www.bemorecreative.com (famous quotes from A.H. to inspire your creative thinking)
http://www.huxley.net (the man who gave drug-driven utopias a bad name; Huxley on the net)
If there was ever a book that could only be read at a certain time in a life, at a certain time in history, to give it’s full effects of meaning and ideology and poignancy, then reading Brave New World at this moment of this world’s history is that book. That, I know, is a very heavy statement, but try and consider these three questions. How do we define civilisation? What is happiness? How do we achieve world peace? THE PLOT Brave New World is set in 632 A.F. (After Ford – after the first successful mass-produced car built by Henry Ford). After several wars and advanced technology Huxley’s utopian state rejects the past, is controlled by ‘happy’ propaganda and promiscuity is the accepted moral. People are not born; they are hatched from bottles. The state is the parent figure, and mother and father are swear words, words that make the Fordonians blush. People are genetically engineered to carry out tasks that relate to their IQ level. Everyone is happy. Everyone has sex with various partners. Everyone takes Soma (Fordian dope) to heighten their happiness. A utopia, you could only dream about. A utopia for many, but for some of the Alpha’s (the unfortunate one’s who have higher IQ’s) there is something missing. Bernard Marx is one of those. Feeling an outcast because of his unhappiness, not wanting to feel the artificiality of Soma, and not wanting to lay every woman (?). He goes on holiday to one of the Savage Reservations, where those living outside of the state still marry, fall in love and have children. There he meets Linda, who had previously lived in the State and was left behind, an outcast herself in the tribal village. She and her son, John, go back with Bernard. But when John the ‘Savage’ visits the state he has heard so much about, he has to learn and decide for himself, what utopia really means… PAST, PRESENT,
FUTURE Huxley’s vision, written in 1931, was echoed by many at that time. H.G.Wells and George Orwell both had there own theories of the future, where science-fiction mixed with a prediction of what was likely to happen to the state of the world by the end of the 20th Century. Remember that in the 30’s and 40’s the world was in the grip of a world war, which was to change life forever. Like Nostrodamus, these predictions in our time now seem to ring alarm bells to many of us. Now it’s Huxley’s turn, if he hasn’t had it already. Let me explain. There are many themes and ideas that are invoked whilst you read a Brave New World. Maybe, because I analyse things too much, I was only too conscious of what was being said and what the likely response would be for someone reading this. Huxley’s ideas made me think of individuality, difference, civilisation, happiness and common satisfaction. Many of the things made me think of what the world is experiencing at this moment in time, how things could change and what would happen if… …religion didn’t exist. In Huxley’s utopia, a belief in God or any spiritual being is not necessary. Happiness is created through conditioning, and Soma is available. A drug which emphasises a happy state and sends its taker on ‘holiday’, a cross between LSD and Ecstasy, but without the side effects or dangers. …satisfaction is guaranteed. Everyone is genetically produced to fulfil a particular job. No one has to decide what that will be. No one need feel unfulfilled, because they haven’t got the capacity to be. You work and then are encouraged to be happy in your spare time and solitude is frowned upon. The loss of individuality for continued happiness. Many depressives would relate to this. …an end to war and terrorism. Because everyone is satisfied and happy, what have they to fight for? Of course, all of what Huxley says is not as simplistic as this. He saw the need for individuality and in our society the dichotomies of happy/sad, social stability/unrest, but only because it is what we are all used to. This is demonstrated by the Fordians dismay at the ‘uncivilised’ world and John’s repulsion of ‘utopia’, it is after all what people are used to, what conditioning they receive in their formative years and what morals they are taught. I have been brought up in one way, what makes me so sure that it was the right way and every other way is wrong. At the end of Brave New World, the Utopia remains. Those who aren’t satisfied with the ideology leave either by force or by will. They have to go so that the utopian society can be protected and so that social stability remains. Social stabilty = peace = harmony. Does this ring any bells? Maybe we already have our utopian society and those that threaten it have to be removed? Did I mention that Huxley in the 1920’s described America as being “Materially, the nearest approach to Utopia yet seen on out planet” and that “the future of America is the future of the world”. How prophetic he was. In a new Foreward for Brave New World, Huxley wrote in 1946: “…we have only two alternatives to choose from: either a number of national, militarised totalitarianisms, having as their root the terror of the atomic bomb and as their consequence the destruction of civilisation:…or else one supra-national totalitarianism, called into existence by the social chaos resulting from rapid technological progress in general and the atom revolution in particular, and developing, under the need for efficiency and stability, into the welfare-tyranny of Utopia” Is this the beginning or the end of our Brave New World?