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Wednesday, January 30, 2013

One of the most acclaimed dystopian novels of this century.


Brave New World




Huxley's bleak future prophesized in Brave New World was a capitalist civilization which had been reconstituted through scientific and psychological engineering, a world in which people are genetically designed to be passive and useful to the ruling class. Satirical and disturbing, Brave New World is set some 600 years ahead, in "this year of stability, A.F. 632"--the A.F. standing for After Ford, meaning the godlike Henry Ford.

Guest Reviewer

Charley R

Reviewer's Blog
"Community, Identity, Stability," is the motto. Reproduction is controlled through genetic engineering, and people are bred into a rigid class system. As they mature, they are conditioned to be happy with the roles that society has created for them. The rest of their lives are devoted to the pursuit of pleasure through sex, recreational sports, the getting and having of material possessions, and taking a drug called Soma. Concepts such as family, freedom, love, and culture are considered grotesque.

Against this backdrop, a young man known as John the Savage is brought to London from the remote desert of New Mexico. What he sees in the new civilization a "brave new world" (quoting Shakespeare’s The Tempest). However, ultimately, John challenges the basic premise of this society in an act that threatens and fascinates its citizens.

Huxley uses his entire prowess to throw the idea of utopia into reverse, presenting us what is known as the "dystopian" novel. When Brave New World was written (1931), neither Hitler nor Stalin had risen to power. Huxley saw the enduring threat to society from the dark side of scientific and social progress, and mankind's increasing appetite for simple amusement. Brave New World is a work that indicts the idea of progress for progress sake and is backed up with force and reason.

Guest Review


Brave New World is a fascinating book, and is probably one of the most acclaimed dystopian novels of this century. Huxley has created a world that is both fascinatingly alien and eerily akin to our own, and his visions of the future are terrifying musings on what could go wrong if the more extreme parts of our society were to grow out of hand. His twisted portrayal of religion sends shivers down the spine, and even the snippets of songs that creep into the chapters are spine-tinglingly creepy in their subject matter.

Huxley's characters are another unique aspect of his work - from the troubled Bernard Marx, the beautiful, oblivious Lenina, to John the Savage (who is, ironically, the most human character in the tale) every one of them portrays a different part of human morality, and the interweaving of their stories is artfully and wonderfully done. Each character comes with their own distinct viewpoint, and a new set of stunning revelations. While John reads and quotes Shakespeare aloud to himself, Lenina is a perfectly happy member of the society who finds the strangeness of the Savages terrifying, much as we do with her version of normality.

However, this does not mean the book is infallible. Several chapters are little more than long lists of philosophical rambling or scientific jargon that makes no sense to the reader, and - while the end of the book is incredibly powerful - one cannot help but feel a little dissatisfied at all the unanswered questions that are left in the air. The character of Bernard Marx jars a bit towards the end of the novel where, rather than retaining his wonderful stubborn need to be different, he regresses, and I completely lost my sympathy with him when he turned from spirited freedom fighter to spineless attention-seeker.

Overall, despite its flaws, Brave New World is a very worthwhile read. From the spooky, ordered world of the society, to the wonky, polytheistic religion and nonsense gods of the Savages, the causal attitude to sex and drugs, and the use of "father" and "mother" as an insult, every aspect of our world is turned utterly upside down.

If this book doesn't leave an impression on you, nothing will.

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