Rating: really liked it
Warning! The following review contains humor. If you read it and actually think that I'm being critical of Huxley, try reading it again. (Here's a hint. Look for the irony of the italicized parts when compared to the previous statements.) If you post a comment that asserts that I'm wrong/ stupid/ crazy for this and/or try to lecture me on all the points you think I missed then I'm going to assume that you read it literally, missed the joke, didn't read the other comments where I've already answered this about a dozen times, and I will delete your post.
I have to apologize for this review. The concept of this book was so outlandish that I think it made my mind wander, and you may find some odd random thoughts scattered in it.
Anyhow, this book was so silly and unrealistic. Like any of this could happen. In the far future the babies are genetically engineered and designed for certain stations in life with a large workforce bred to be happy with menial jobs that don’t stress them physically or mentally. I really should look into getting that data entry position I saw in the job postings. It’d be a lot less stressful than what I‘m doing now.
In addition to all the genetic modifications, the children are raised by the state, and words like ’father’ and ’mother’ are considered obscenities. Subliminal messaging through infancy and childhood also condition people to repeat idiotic platitudes as if they are genuine wisdom. I’ve been in a bad mood today. I need to turn that frown upside down. And since the world economy depends on constant consumption by the highest classes, they’re encouraged to be wasteful The collars on a couple of my shirts are a little frayed. I should go buy some new ones and throw the old ones out. and to engage in activities that demand spending and resource use. Should I get a new set of golf clubs? I lost my old ones when we moved, but I hadn’t played in a long time. But would I play more if I got new clubs? There‘s that really nice looking course right down the street. I don‘t know how they keep the grass that green in this heat. The population even gets to zip around in their own private helicopters rather than cars. Man, when are they going to come out with jet packs for everyone. It’s 2011 and I’m still driving around in a car like a chump. I want my jet pack!
Casual sex is actively encouraged. Wow. These condom commercials on TV have gotten really racy. The population is also programmed to be constantly partaking of some form of entertainment and to never just sit quietly and think I’m bored. Writing is boring. or to be alone Let’s check Facebook and see what all my friends are doing.
One of the sillier ideas is that the foundation of this society is Henry Ford’s assembly lines and that Ford has become the most revered figure in history. Like a businessman could ever become that popular. Is Steve Jobs making any announcements this week? I get itchy when there‘s no new Apple products.
While everyone seeks to be constantly entertained, all of the entertainment panders to the lowest common denominator. Hey, Jersey Shore is on! and the emphasis is on presenting it with gimmicks to engage the audience like ’the feelies’, movies that the audience can also smell and feel the sensation from. I wonder if they’ll re-release Avatar at the movies so I can see it in 3D again like James Cameron intended? At one point, a character complains about the feelies, “But they’re told by an idiot….works of art out of practically nothing but pure sensation.” I should go see that new Michael Bay Transformers movie.
Perhaps the most far fetched idea in this is that the population has been trained to sedate themselves with a drug called soma that relives any potential anxieties and keeps people from thinking about anything upsetting. I want a beer.
I guess this Huxley guy might have gotten lucky and predicted a few things, but he was way off base about where society was going.
Rating: liked it
I need to parse my rating of this book into the good (or great), the bad and the very fugly because I thought aspects of it were inspired genius and parts of it were dreggy, boring and living near the border of awful. In the end, the wowness and importance of the novel's ideas as well as the segments that I thoroughly enjoyed carried the book to a strong 3.5 star rating.
THE REALLY GOOD/EXCELLENT - I loved the first third of the book in which the basic outline of the "Brave New World" and its devalued, conveyer belt morality is set forth. The narrative device employed by Huxley of having the Director of Hatchery and Conditioning provide a walking tour to students around the facility as a way to knowledge up the reader on the societal basics was perfect. We learn of the cloning/birthing process, the caste system and the fundamental tenets upon which the society is organized.
This was as good a use of infodumping exposition as I had come across in some time and I was impressed both with the content and delivery method. The reader gets a crash course in world and its history in a way that fit nicely into the flow of the narrative without ever feeling forced. This was easily the best part of the novel for me, and Huxley's mass production-based society of enforced hedonism and anti-emotion was very compelling. Sort of like...
Now, long jumping to the end of the novel...
I also thought the final "debate" near the story's climax between John (the "savage") and Mustapha Mond, the World Controller, was exceptional. This last chapter/ending of the book, while abrupt, was masterful and struck the proper chord with the overall theme of the book.
Thus, a superior 4.5 to 5.0 stars for this portion of the book.
THE BAD/AWFUL - I thought the middle of the book including both the trip to the "reservation" and John's initial return to London was a sleeping pill and felt disconnected from the rest of the narrative. Throughout this entire portion of the book, all I kept thinking was...
The only purpose of this long, long.....LONG section seems to be to allow the reader to see Bernard Marx do a complete 180 in his views on the society once he finds himself in the role of celebrity by virtue of his relationship with John the savage. Sorry, this just did not strike me as a big enough payoff for this dry, plodding section. It was a test of endurance to get through this portion of the book, so I'm being generous when I give it a weak 2.0 to 2.5 stars. I could just have easily summed it up by just saying...
Bottom-line, I think this is a book that should be read. It's important book and there is much brilliance here. Plus, it is short enough that the stale boring segments aren't too tortuous to get through. However, as far as the triumvirate of classic dystopian science fiction goes...1984 is still the undisputed champ.
3.0 Stars. Recommended.
Rating: really liked it
remember that last semester of english class, senior year, where every class seemed painfully long and excrutiatingly pointless? when everybody sat around secretly thinking of cute and witty things to put in other people's yearbooks? when the teachers realized we were already braindead from filling out three dozen student loan applications and college housing forms? that's when honors english started getting a little lazy.
not that i minded. everybody got a book list. then everybody got split up into groups. you were responsible for reading all the books on your own, but one in particular was chosen for your group to present at the end of the semester. you know--- as a refresher for the rest of the class. because of course EVERYONE was gonna read EVERY book.
i can't remember what i did instead of reading "brave new world", but it was probably fun and involved copious amounts of sweet tea and a gigantic paper mache cow. fortunately it didn't matter because the only group to take their presentation seriously was the "brave new world" group, and the way they presented stuck with me long enough to compel me to read the book later.
maybe it was the weird music they had playing during their presentation, maybe it was the fact that super hot chris mayns had to sit in my group (the alphas) but i was seriously attracted to the world this group created in our classroom. we drew cards randomly to determine our class, then sat accordingly and wore cute little colored wristbands. everybody got pez (soma!) and *gasp* a birth control belt. throughout the presentation people were moved next to someone and lost a packet on their belt (listen, this is scandalous for a bible belt high school, ok? by the way, i did NOT get to sit next to chris, which is probably good because i would have been mortified and choked on a pez)
anyway, the presentation was fun, but i didn't get around to reading my (now ex) boyfriends copy until a year ago. and i started getting a small, evil thought exactly the same as i had in class so many years ago... maybe some people would actually like this system. maybe some people would actually BENEFIT from this system. people don't have to think? they aren't expected to do much, go to college, become something bigger than what they actually are? they're rewarded with good feeling drugs? they are proud to have accomplished what they have? and they... DON'T HAVE TO THINK FOR THEMSELVES!?
I know i'm going to get slammed for saying this later, especially because i never do actual reviews or completely delve into what i'm thinking (so shoot me) but haven't you ever been roaming the world wide inter-web and found a little troller you thought "well, this person is a poor use of a human brain?" yes, you have. admit it.
just think, a little test tube tweaking and that person wouldn't mind manning the cash register at piggly wiggly for the rest of his life, saving the rest of humanity from noxious online rants about the hotness of avril lavinge and the brilliance of starcraft (apparently its a video game thats KOOLER THAN U!!!!1#)
you're tempted, i can tell...
Rating: it was amazing
Aldous Huxley wrote Brave New World in 1932. That's almost eighty years ago, but the book reads like it could have been written yesterday. (especially interesting to me was how Huxley was able to predict the future of both genetic engineering and the action blockbuster. Damn.)
I think I liked this one better than 1984, the book traditionally considered to be this one's counterpart. Not really sure why this is, but it's probably because this one has a clearer outsider character (the Savage) who can view the world Huxley created through his separate perspective.
In this light, I will give the last word to Neil Postman, who discussed the differences between Orwell and Huxley's views of the future:
"What Orwell feared were those who would ban books. What Huxley feared was that there would be no reason to ban a book, for there would be no one who wanted to read one.
Orwell feared those who would deprive us information. Huxley feared those who would give us so much that we would be reduced to passivity and egoism. Orwell feared that the truth would be concealed from us. Huxley feared the truth would be drowned in a sea of irrelevance. Orwell feared we would become a captive culture. Huxley feared we would become a trivial culture, preoccupied with some equivalent of the feelies, the orgy porgy, and the centrifugal bumblepuppy.
As Huxley remarked in 'Brave New World revisited,' the civil libertarians and rationalists who are ever on the alert to oppose tyranny 'failed to take into account man's almost infinite appetite for distractions.'
In 'Nineteen Eighty-Four' people are controlled by inflicting pain. In 'Brave New World' people are controlled by inflicting pleasure.
In short, Orwell feared that what we hate will ruin us. Huxley feared that what we love will ruin us."
Rating: did not like it
Wow, the anger over this rating! My first post for this book was a quote and a gif of Dean from Supernatural rolling his eyes and passing out. And people were pissed. How dare I?
Lol. I'm honestly just so tired of all the dumb comments demanding that I (all caps) "ELABORATE". It's been going on for SIX YEARS now. So I will: This is still one of the most boring emotionless books I have ever read. It seemed like a natural choice after I loved Orwell and Atwood but, my god, Huxley is a dry, dull writer.
Another reviewer called this book a "sleeping pill" and that is a fantastic description. After all the hullabaloo with my original post, I borrowed Brave New World from my local library with the intention of reading it again to give a more detailed review for those freaking out in the comments. And I returned it after suffering through only a few pages. A few years later I got the ebook, thinking I would eventually make it through somehow. But I haven't. It's so mind-numbingly dull. I don't want to do it to myself. The Globalization of World Politics was more enjoyable than this book.
Rating: it was amazing
As a teenager I went through a period of reading a vast number of distopian novels - probably all the teenage angst. This is the one that has continued to haunt me however, long after the my youthful cynicism has died it's death. It's basically a book about the utopian ideal - everyone's happy, everyone has what they want and EVERYTHING is based on logical principles. However, there is something very rotten at the heart. It's about how what we want isn't always what we should get. It looks at how state sponsered "happiness" can entirely miss the point. Perhaps, most importantly, it makes the case for individual freedom rather than authoritarian diktat. It should be read hand in hand with Mill's Utilitarianism to get a good idea of the philosophy that inspired it.
Incidentally, I gave this book to my boyfriend as a present for his 18th birthday ( a rather depressing gift I know). At the time he wasn't particularly freaked out by it and said that it didn't hold the same level of dread as say, 1984 or "The Handmaid's Tale". As he's got older however, he's found the idea more and more frightening. Six years later it has more of a sting in the tail for him. I don't know why this should be but I'll hazard a guess that as you get older you're idea of "happiness" becomes perhaps more complex, making the ideal of "Brave New World" even more disturbing.
Rating: really liked it
I am I, and I wish I weren't.
إن كان راي برادبوري في روايته الأشهر
قد اخترع عالما تُحرق فيه الكتب
فهسكلي قبله بسنوات طويلة
توصل إلى فكرة أشد شناعة
ففي عالمه الناس لا تُمنع من القراءة
فهم أصلا لا يرغبوا فيها
ولا يعرفوا لها قيمة أو معنى
تخيل نفسك تعيش هنا في هذا العالم
عالم السعادة الزائفة .. سعادة العقاقير
عالم يبتسم فيه الجميع
عالم ألمه مخدر وعقله مغيب
عالم بلا مشاعر أو علاقات إنسانية
عالم يقوم على التقسيم الطبقي البحث
عالم خال من العاطفة والجمال
تصور أننا صرنا أجنة مرصوصين في القوارير
ننتظر ترتيبنا إلى واحدة من الطبقات الخمس
والتي يحددوها لنا من قبل حتى أن ننشأ
لا خيار لك في أن تكون واحد من الخمسة التاليين
*الفا ثم بيتا
والذين هما الأعلى مستوى اجتماعيا وفكريا
فمن ألفا يأتي قادة العالم وأعضاء الحكومة
وهو من يقومون بالأعمال المكتبية والإدارية
وهم من يقومون بالأعمال اليدوية التي لا تتطلب مجهودا فكريا
الأغبى والأدنى مرتبة –عمال نظافة وما شابه
وهم يشكلون أغلبية الشعب
لا تحاول أن تختار
ليس لديك هذا الحق أصلا
" ولكنني لا أريد الراحة..
أنا أريد الرب..أريد الشِعر..أريد خطرا حقيقيا..أريد الحرية
أريد الخير..أريد الخطيئة" !
إنه عالم ينشد سعادة آلية
همست بها أزار إلكترونية في أذنيه منذ مولده
فبات لا يعلم عن شيء سواها
لا فن لا دين لا أدب لا حب لا أسرة
وأيضا لا حزن لا ألم لا معاناة لا فقر
هذه أشياء لا يفهم لها معنى
وعلى الجانب الآخر
هناك مجتمع الهمج المنبوذ
الذي يتكاثر بطريقة طبيعية
ويعرف عن معنى الله والأسرة والحب والخوف
والذي منه يطل أمل يائس
فلربما تتغير الأوضاع يوما
أو تحدث ثورة من نوع ما
على الأقل هذا ما يدور في ذهنك أثناء القراءة
ولكن أملك يخيب مع نظرة هكسلي اليائسة
وتنتهي الرواية بنهاية أكثر بؤسا من أحداث الرواية
فالمدينة الفاضلة الخالية من الروح
المغرقة في المادة لا تزال هنا
مبتسمة في سخرية وهي ترمق جثة جون المشنوقة
والشعب لا يزال يبتسم
فحبوب السعادة تكفي لإلهائهم عن الحقيقة
إنه شعب لا يحتاج قوة ليُحكم
لقد تم تكييفهم منذ البداية على الاستسلام
ولكن الباب لم يغلق بعد
علك تريد الهروب من هذه الآلة الكبرى
علك تريد العودة إلى كل ما هو حار وحقيقي ومؤل
علّك .. وإن كان الثمن موتك
=يستمد المؤلف عنوانه من أبيات شكسبير في العاصفة
How many goodly creatures are there here
How beauteous mankind is!
O brave new world
That has such people in 't!
في عام 1958
كتب هكسلي كتابه
Brave New World Revisited
مبديا فيه في عدة مقالات أراؤه التي أودعها الرواية السابقة
إن أحب أحدكم المزيد من الإطلاع
المرة الأولى التي قرأتُ فيها الرواية كنت في نحو السادسة عشر
كان كتيب مختصر ضمن سلسلة مكتبة الأسرة للناشئين
تحت عنوان عالم رائع جديد
وهي مترجمة أيضا بعنوان العالم الطريف –دار المدى
كاملة دون اختصار
ولكني لم أقرؤها ولا أعرف هل ترجمتها طيبة ام لا
Rating: it was ok
This book presents a futuristic dystopia of an unusual kind. Unlike in Orwell's 1984, Huxley's dystopia is one in which everyone is happy. However, they are happy in only the most trivial sense: they lead lives of simple pleasures, but lives without science, art, philosophy or religion. In short, lives without deeper meaning. Although people are expected to work hard and efficiently during working hours, during off hours people live in an infantile way, never engaging their minds, and satisfying themselves with sex and drugs.
The premise of the book I find quite interesting. However, the execution is lacking. The characters are not particularly endearing, and indeed they are quite flat. Worse, Huxley fails to explain why this future of controlled contentment is wrong. The reader will intuit that the this indeed a dystopia posing as a utopia, but Huxley's reliance on this feeling is a philosophical failure. It is the burden of the author to present us not with an account of something we know is bad, but to explain the source of the knowledge.
Huxley attempts something akin to an explanation in the second-to-last chapter, a discussion between "the Savage" who grew up outside civilization and Mustalpha Mond, a World Controller. However, the attempt falls short, as Mond has concise answers to all of the Savage's questions, and the Savage lacks the education and/or intellectual power to find reason behind his feelings.
During the conversation, Mond refers to philosopher Francis Bradley and credits him with the idea that philosophy is "the finding of bad reason for what one believes by instinct." Perhaps this inclusion is intended to convey that Huxley agrees and will make no attempt to manufacture a "bad reason" why the world he created is evil. However, I find this deeply unsatisfying. Why write a book to tell people what they already know? Moreover, a single reference to Bradley is not sufficient to convince me that this definition of philosophy is correct. If Huxley's novel relies heavily on this idea, he should have supported it with more than a solitary statement of Mond. Indeed, Mond promptly refutes the statement by denying instinct as separate from conditioning, and as the civilized population of the world seems to be controlled largely by conditioning, it would seem that in Huxley's world, Mond is correct!
In summary, Huxley crafts an interesting future world where people are blithely content without knowing passion or pain. Unfortunately, he fails both to craft an interesting story to set in this world and to write a strong philosophical argument why such a world would be harmful for mankind. He relies on the obvious faults of the world and the intuitive reaction of the reader, and thus provides no deeper insights.
As a social message, as a novel, and as a statement on the way in which mankind should behave, I find Brave New World inferior in almost every way to 1984. The one word of praise I will give to Huxley's novel is that his dystopia is more unusual and more intriguing than Orwell's. If only he had dome something more with it.
Rating: really liked it
Given that dystopian books are generally not my first choice ‘run-to-books-to-read’.... and I’m sure I didn’t understand the full depths of this book - which was written 21 years before I was born....even I can see Aldous Huxley had a brilliant mind.
I was trying to wrap my thinking around the conspiracies that it looked liked the author was trying to warn us were happening in the world —�trying to visualize the already futuristic setting —( was he thinking of 2017?)....and follow the story itself, trying to get inside the heads of the created characters.
See... I’m not very good at this. This type of reading is challenging for me. It hurts my brain!!!!
But.....here are a few things I think I got from this book:
.....thousands of little babies got born from one cell.....but not from a mothers womb....and these were the SORRY SUCKERS...( too bad for you Johnny - you’re pretty much a worthless bean- and you get to have all the shitty underpaid jobs in the world).
.....embryos were incubated in bottles in laboratories.
.....there were no traditional ‘Leave It To Beaver’ families in this society - there were no families at all - no sexual reproduction at all!
.....there is a REASON for all this. Embryos were divided by their social status. There were five castes: alpha, beta, (THE LUCKY SUCKERS).....and delta, gamma, and epsilon.....(the SORRY SUCKERS)......
Oh but wait the SORRY SUCKERS won’t feel sorry for themselves because this is utopia....where everybody is made to be happy - as all personal identity has vanished. DRUGS ARE COOL.... even encouraged! Everybody must get stoned.
So? How am I doing? Am I understanding this book somewhat?
...that what Aldous Huxley was saying is that the FUTURE LOOKS SCARY?/!....
It looked scary in 1931.... and it still looks scary in 2017.
One of Huxley’s predictions was spot on: Bombastic- pretentious -pompous RIDICULOUS senatorial entertainment! ( Huxley was more kind and didn’t use all those adjectives)....but he might have if he knew how right he’d really be!
Lots more in this slim-jim novel - we get enlightened on history - religion - consumerism- emotions ( not to worry - you won’t need to worry - it’s a no worry society).... we’ve become deadbeats!
PLEASE read other reviews- I have NO idea if I read this book right.
However ...seems like I shouldn’t worry about it all according to the brilliant man himself...Aldous Huxley! VERY WORTH READING! ( even for a girl who understands nothin)
Whew.... now I can start my day.... as all is well in the world. 🌏
Rating: really liked it
Brave New World is a vision of the future where science will (at last) be put full time into the service of our needs. Some of the ideas might seem a little controversial (because of our preconceived ideas) but we must be open minded...!
SEX. Biology teaches that sex is meant to be had. To put restrictions on sex is as silly as putting restrictions on which chair to sit. And like chairs, women are meant to be pneumatic. "Oh, she’s a splendid girl. Wonderfully pneumatic. I’m surprised you haven’t had her."
BIRTH. Why should modern man have to put up with it? Any informed person will affirm it is gross: all meat and blood and pain. Science will solve this problem with advances in reproductive technology: thinking outside the box. "Which brings us at last," continued Mr. Foster, "out of the realm of mere slavish imitation of nature into the much more interesting world of human invention."
CHILDREN. If you've been to a supermarket you will have seen plenty of bad parenting. How often have you wanted to step in and rectify the situation? Let's take the important job of citizen building out of the hands of amateurs. There's a good reason some of the foulest language we use involve the word *Mother*. "Psychically, [home] was a rabbit hole, a midden, hot with the frictions of tightly packed life, reeking with emotion. What suffocating intimacies, what dangerous, insane, obscene relationships between the members of the family group! Maniacally, the mother brooded over her children (her children) … brooded over them like a cat over its kittens; but a cat that could talk, a cat that could say, "My baby, my baby," over and over again."
PEACE OF MIND. This is something we all want. Yet we must contend with traffic jams, lost cellphones, and raised voices. The frustration you feel is the result of a chemical reaction in your brain. Thus it is only natural that Science should offer a chemical solution. "A gramme in time saves nine"
DEATH. The problem here is not death per se. It is our poor attitude toward it. Rigorous psychology will help us achieve complete indifference and thus free up a lot of wasted time. "...what fatal mischief he might do to these poor innocents? Undoing all their wholesome death-conditioning with this disgusting outcry—as though death were something terrible, as though any one mattered as much as all that!"
BOOKS. These are only needed for reference and factual information. Reading in itself is profoundly antisocial. And, although there is little danger of anyone actually reading Shakespeare, his works are especially egregious in provoking time wasting thoughts."Do they read Shakespeare?" asked the Savage as they walked, on their way to the Bio-chemical Laboratories, past the School Library. "Certainly not," said the Head Mistress, blushing. "Our library," said Dr. Gaffney, "contains only books of reference. If our young people need distraction, they can get it at the feelies. We don’t encourage them to indulge in any solitary amusements."
RELIGION. The absurdity of religion is self-evident, as every nonconforming individual knows. If there must be faith, let it be bright. Let it be in science. "As if one believed anything by instinct! One believes things because one has been conditioned to believe them. Finding bad reasons for what one believes for other bad reasons—that’s philosophy. People believe in God because they’ve been conditioned to believe in God."
LOVE. Love is the unifying idea in each of the above themes - certainly the most destructive concept ever to exist. Shakespeare of course has been largely responsible for its glorification. Brave New World is a world without pain, without hunger, with total comfort. It is a world without love.
"Community, Identity, Stability."
Rating: really liked it
649. Brave New World, Aldous Huxley
Brave New World is a dystopian novel by English author Aldous Huxley. Published in 1932, it propounds that economic chaos and unemployment will cause a radical reaction in the form of an international scientific empire that manufactures its citizens in the laboratory on a eugenic basis, without the need for human intercourse.
عنوانها: دنیای قشنگ نو؛ دنیای شگفت انگیز نو؛ نویسنده: آلدوس هاکسلی؛ (پیام ، نیلوفر) ادبیات؛ تاریخ نخستین خوانش: سوم ماه آوریل سال 2000 میلادی
عنوان: دنیای قشنگ نو؛ نویسنده: آلدوس هاکسلی؛ مترجم: سعید حمیدیان؛ تهران، پیام، 1352؛ در 268 ص؛ چاپ دیگر: تهران، نشر واژه، 1368، در 267 ص؛ چاپ دیگر: تهران، نیلوفر، 1378، در 295 ص؛ شابک: 9644480686؛ موضوع: داستانهای نویسندگان انگلیسی قرن 20 م
عنوان: دنیای شگفت انگیز نو؛ نویسنده: آلدوس هاکسلی؛ مترجم: حشمت الله صباغی؛ حسن کاویار؛ تهران، کارگاه هنر، 1366؛ در 281 ص؛
عنوان: دنیای شگفت انگیز نو؛ نویسنده: آلدوس هاکسلی؛ مترجم: رضا فاطمی؛ تهران، سمیر، 1390؛ در 312 ص؛
رمان علمی تخیلیِ ست که در سال 1932 میلادی به قلم آلدوس هاکسلی نویسنده انگلیسی منتشر شده؛ داستانی خیالی در سال 2540 میلادی، انسانها را کارخانه ها تولید میکنند، و اوضاع دنیا ثابت است و مردم خوشبخت هستند، از پیری خبری نیست.، ... ، و در بخشهای پایانی، «هاکسلی» با قدرت دیالوگهایی که از نمایشنامه های شکسپیر بازنگاری کرده (حتی عنوان رمان را نیز از نمایشنامه طوفان اثر: ویلیام شکسپیر برگرفته)، و ... انگار هنوز داستان ادامه دارد. ا. شربیانی
Rating: it was amazing
One of my all time favorites, this set the stage about what a dystopian story should be or not be.
“But I don't want comfort. I want God, I want poetry, I want real danger, I want freedom, I want goodness. I want sin.”
First published in 1932, this is timeless and is as relevant today as when it was first written. Sixteen years before Orwell's 1984 but eleven years after We by Yevgeny Zamyatin, this is a high water mark for the genre, many of its themes could be told today. Truth be said, this could be published today and would be just as good, it rises to the challenge and then towers above it.
“If one's different, one's bound to be lonely.”
Everyday life makes me think of this book all the time. Huxley does more than describe a bleak and cynical post-apocalyptic or dystopian world, he looks a dystopian resident in the eye and puts before him a mirror to flesh out what is real and unreal. Further, Huxley has turned that same mirror on the reader and we see in his far future fantasy a reality that could be today. Huxley reveals that the seeds of Mustafa Mond and his ilk have fertile ground in our culture and in our souls.
“No social stability without individual stability.”
Finally, Huxely provides a glimpse behind the curtain, we see the false wizard in his machinations. The world that has been crafted for the denizens of Huxley's nightmare landscape is explained fully and matter-of-factly by Mond. Huxley's sermon is delivered as stoically and deterministically as Jonathon Edwards "Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God".
"You all remember, I suppose, that beautiful and inspired saying of Our Ford's: History is bunk."
A must read.
Rating: it was amazing
"You all remember," said the Controller, in his strong deep voice, "you all remember, I suppose, that beautiful and inspired saying of Our Ford's: History is bunk. History, " he repeated slowly, "is bunk."
The rhetorical skills of the Controller remind me of the Epsilon Semi-Moron who runs one of the bravest new worlds in our current era in bunk.
As I had forgotten the major plot of this dystopian novel written just when fascism emerged in the 1930s, some fifteen years before the nuclear age, I spent a day rereading it with mixed emotions. Some things are almost prophetic in all their scary details, for example the efficiency of the childlike custom-made contributor to consumerist society:
"Adults intellectually and during working hours", he went on. "Infants where feeling and desire are concerned."
The reliable drug - soma - which makes sure that society's stability is not threatened, the focus on entertainment which requires people to spend money on gadgets that keep the economy working, the sexual control mechanisms (for promiscuity is just as limiting as marriage or chastity if you are not given any choice), the early childhood social conditioning in addition to biological selection processes - it all leaves a bitter taste as it rings too many bells.
The part of the plot I found difficult to swallow was the juxtaposition of the scientifically perfected "utopia" of drug-induced happiness with the dirty "natural" world of the savages, who follow absurdly ancient rituals. Their world, where "god" is still needed to balance their suffering and to help them accept ageing, hunger and pain, is like a black-and-white contrast foil. Their need for self-denial in God-fearing doesn't generally differ much from the self-indulgence of the consumption society where soma takes care of controlling emotions and actions. In either case, human beings are controlled, or conditioned, by a greater power, and they can fall back into a state of irresponsible acceptance of pleasure or pain, according to their choice (- which of course is pre-destined by early childhood drilling).
Call me a hopeless idealist, but there is a third alternative!
Human beings can be offered the freedom of choice if they learn to embrace diversity, knowledge and differences of individuals rather than the "utopian" goal of "sameness" of one kind or the other. If sameness is the ultimate goal, any paradise will turn into hell, an automatic regression into robotic behaviour will follow, regardless of the oppressive dictatorship that imposes it (consumerism and religious doctrine are quite the same in Brave New World).
Interestingly, Huxley himself commented on the problematic binary world he had created when he reflected on his novel in 1946. His third option, to decentralise power and encourage individual freedom, is still a work in progress in our historical (bunk) era, and his two dystopian visions have merged into one. The worship of His Fordship, the consumerist god of the capitalist world, has been combined with ancient religious rites serving as soma for some people, while others take the more direct approach of over-consumption of food and fun and drug intake against meaninglessness. It made me think of another novel showing two juxtaposed oppressive systems, Things Fall Apart. British colonial rule, with all its religious and social implications, stands against the ancient rites of the Nigerian past, which to me would constitute just as much of a dictatorship against my personal wishes. Two opposing, rigid systems leaving no individual freedom, two doctrines that condemn whatever is different from their own specific tradition. Zero tolerance for individual differences. No compromise or combination possible. It is either or. No third or fourth option.
"Oh Ford" can be used as casually as "Oh Lord" (of whichever confession), and has about as much impact. Margaret Atwood in her MaddAddam at least insisted that her new deity "Oh Fuck" should only be called upon in emergencies.
I finish reading Brave New World with the feeling that it is time to call on Atwood's god, for the bravest and newest of worlds is in danger. The devil is in the sameness, as is god. For they are the same thing, utopia and dystopia being completely identical, turning humans into Epsilon Semi-Morons, children or robots. Even Shakespeare can be destroyed by application in banal situations. If history is bunk, everything is always new and brave. But also meaningless.
Rating: really liked it
In a dystopian society of genetically engineered consumers pacified by drugs and conditioning, Bernard Marx cannot seem to fit in. When he visits a Savage reservation, his eyes are opened and he brings one of the savages back to England with him...
As I continue my bleak science fiction parade toward the new year, I wonder why I've never read Brave New World before.
In Brave New World, Aldous Huxley takes on consumerism, the media, genetic engineering, recreational drugs, religion, herd mentality, individualism, and lots of other socially relevant topics, weaving them into a science fiction setting that our world resembles more every day.
The setting and society are the stars of the show in Brave New World. The people live in a caste system based on genetics, conditioned from birth and pacified by drugs, living to consume goods and take soma to forget their troubles. Free love is encouraged but free thinking is not. Bernard Max can't seem to get with the program and winds up nearly causing a revolution.
The characters are pretty secondary to the setting but it wasn't hard to feel sorry for Bernard, the square peg in a world of round holes. Even when he gets a measure of fame, he still can't manage to shake the feeling that something's wrong. John the Savage provides a nice contrast, an outsider looking in on a world everyone else sees as normal but he sees as hellish.
Huxley may not have thought so at the time but he may have been a futurist. Our culture seems to be moving in the direction of Brave New World all the time. The rampant consumerism, lowest common denominator entertainment, and herd mentality all seem a little too familiar. Is the internet our soma? Things to ponder...
There are some classics that are as hard to read as an insurance policy written in Klingon and then there are ones like this. Brave New World is very readable and not at all dense. The ideas are very easy to absorb, especially in this day and age. In these uncertain times, Brave New World is as timely as ever. Four and a half stars.
Rating: liked it
Brave New World is a classic written to make its readers uncomfortable. It accomplishes its point well. Still, it is only getting 3 stars from me, as I rate books based on my personal level of enjoyment rather than literary value.
The characters of this book were not meant to be likeable - I am fine with that concept. The first few chapters made me want to curl up in the corner and cry - that's how repulsive the design of this universe was (mission accomplished, Mr. Huxley). But as we plunge into the depths of the neverending moral message of the story (basically the entire last third of the book), I felt my patience stretching thin. I get the message, no need to beat me over the head with it.
I did chuckle at the ridiculous consumerism of this world (inspired by America of the turn of the century) in which, unexpectedly, most characters have distinct socialist names - Lenina, Trotsky, Marx, Bernard (as in G.B.Shaw). I just think it's funny how both of the enemies of Huxley's ideal world - the competing ideologies of socialism and rampant consumerism - were dealt with in one blow. Good try - but come on!
I liked the description of the effects of soma drug on the mind. No wonder, as this was written by the author of The Doors of Perception about mescaline effects on the mind - an interesting read, by the way.
Of the classic trio of dystopian books (this one, Orwell's Nineteen Eighty-Four and Zamyatin's We) this one is my least favorite (We is the best, in my opinion, and may have actually inspired this one). Brave New World succeeds at portraying dystopia at its worst and making the reader think, but stilted language and moral heavy-handedness take away from the enjoyment. Yet it's a classic, and should be read, even if not for fun. 3 stars.