Brave New World - Aldous Huxley

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Brave New World - Aldous Huxley

WITH AN INTRODUCTION BY MARGARET ATWOOD. Far in the future, the World Controllers have created the ideal society. Through clever use of genetic engine...

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Review of "Brave New World - Aldous Huxley"

published 16/09/2001 | HappyBunny
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"What of Our Brave New World - A Prophecy"

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?


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Comments on this review

  • mrsxopher published 03/09/2004
    I realize that this is a very old review, but I have always wondered about this book since I was very young. I had a biography teacher that used to relate to it nearly everyday. I thought that what you wrote was INCREDIBLY well layed out, and wonderfully thought out. Excellent. I only hope you are still around to read this :-)
  • TallTone published 17/09/2001
    Nicky this review strikes a chord so deep that it probably won't even be heard. But I'm off to Amazon to order this now. TT.
  • Versatile published 17/09/2001
    Keep on writing girl ~ Excellent ~ Brilliant review ~ Thanks Versatile :O)
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Product Information : Brave New World - Aldous Huxley

Manufacturer's product description

WITH AN INTRODUCTION BY MARGARET ATWOOD. Far in the future, the World Controllers have created the ideal society. Through clever use of genetic engineering, brainwashing and recreational sex and drugs all its members are happy consumers. Bernard Marx seems alone harbouring an ill-defined longing to break free. A visit to one of the few remaining Savage Reservations where the old, imperfect life still continues, may be the cure for his distress... See all Product Description

Product Details

Type: Fiction

Genre: Modern Fiction

Title: Brave New World

Author: Aldous Huxley

ISBN: 0099458160; 0099518473; 0586044345

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Listed on Ciao since: 10/08/2000