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'Brave New World' by Aldous Huxley (1 Viewer)

WriteStuff

Senior Member
'Brave New World' by Aldous Huxley is a future society book. It projects a future and lets us decide. The book takes place 600 years after the birth of Henry Ford, who is the equivalent of God. Years are measured in AF, After Ford.

The world is split up into ten separate regions and each is controlled by a World Controller. 'Brave New World' takes place in Western Europe, whose controller is Mustapha Mond. In this society, there is no marriage, no mothers, no fathers, just happiness. As Mustapha Mond says later on:

"Art, science - you seem to have paid a fairly high price for your happiness," said the Savage, when they were alone. "Anything else?"

"Well, religion, of course," replied the Controller.

Everything has been given up, for a stable society and universal happiness. Mosquitos and flies have been exterminated because they are unpleasant. If something is unpleasant, it is done away with. Marriage apparently was inconvenient, so it was done away with. Now if you want someone, you find a bed and hop in; after you perform your Malthusian Drill (contraceptive) if you are in the 50% of unsterilized females or freemartins.

Children are no longer born, in the typical sense of the word. A single egg can be taken and fertilized. Then, through Bokanovskification, it can be split to form up to 1700 identical twins. These eggs are placed in bottles through which blood is pumped, simulating a womb.

As these embryos move through the underground galleries Hatchery and Conditioning Center, they are Socially Predetermined. They are inoculated against various diseases, and various compounds are pumped through their bottles to turn them into one of the caste levels, Alpha (highest), Beta, Gamma, Delta, Epsilon (lowest).

Once the children are born, they are taught through hypnopaedia, or sleep-teaching. They taught things such as flowers and bright colors are bad through electrical shocks; Class-Conciousness; Sex; all as young as infants! For play, they are given very complicated games, or they can play with each other in erotic and "exciting" ways.

Here's an example of a hypnopaedic lesson.
"Alpha children wear grey. They work much harder than we do, because they're so frightfully clever. I'm really awfully glad I'm a Beta, because I don't work so hard. And then we are much better than the Gammas and Deltas. Gammas are stupid. They all wear green, and Delta children wear khaki. Oh no, I don't want to play with Delta children. And Epsilons are still worse. They're too stupid to be able to read or write. Besides, they wear black, which is such a beastly colour. I'm so glad I'm Beta."

See what I mean?

Those who do not agree with the society, are sent to islands where they are out of the way.

But despite this, there are still people who live like we do. They live on Savage Reservations, surrounded by electrified fences. One of the so called Savages though, was born by a mother who grew up in this futuristic society. He goes to see what it is like.

He is disgusted by it. In a confrontation with Mustapha Mond, who explains everything, he is driven to the point of madness. When he accidentally kills the woman he loves, he hangs himself.

In summary, 'Brave New World' is a good book, but be prepared for a disturbing read. The ideas presented by Huxley are different than normal thinking. But this is a must read for everyone, because it addresses problems in our society, even though it was written in 1936.

By the way, this is required reading in most high schools.
 

strangedaze

Senior Member
to be honest, i couldnt get into it. seemed like a more pretentious take on 1984, though i wouldnt mind dipping into those drugs and fucking all those women. maybe it was because the expository consisted of sci-fi lingo that made my literary nuts shrivel into a peanut. i should really give it another shot, though. what would you rate it out of ten?
 

blankslatejoe

Senior Member
though, I thought it was written before 1984... so wouldn't that make 1984 a depressing take on Brave New World?

I read somewhere that 1984 was written in 1948. He switched around the 48 for the title. That might not be true though.

Also, on an offnote, my parents had lunch/tea a few times with Aduls Huxley's brother Thomas. This was like... 20 years ago, and is not relevant in any way whatsoever, but I like to share.
 

strangedaze

Senior Member
swank. i wouldnt be surprised if brave new world came out before '84, though i wouldnt call either a 'depressing' take on the other. i just found bnw to be a bit pretentious and too techy for my tastes at the beginning, so i stopped reading because i am a bitch. or something.

was tommy a genius too? its always fun when people share writerly stories :p my workshop prof lunches with alice munro a few times a year, partied with leonard cohen back in the day and dated a woman in university who went on to become an antagonist in one of margaret atwood's novels. hurrah for the canlit scene!
 

blankslatejoe

Senior Member
i have no idea what tommy was like... I don't think my parent's knew him that well.. I think my folks were kind of treated like a museum exhibit when they lived in Britian.. they got introduced to a number of people by their landlords, who were well off (and a real "Lord" and "Lady" with a castle and everything!) and would always be like "Hey, come meet my American Tenants!" to their social group.

This was back in the late 70s/ early 80s mind you.

I don't think they lived in the castle, but since then I think they've turned it into
a bed and breakfast.

anyway, back on the off topic, Leonard Cohen?? That's AWESOME. he's one of my favorite musicians/lyrcists.
 

Stewart

Senior Member
George Orwell wrote 1984 in 1948 and it was published the following year. He arrived at the title by simply reversing the years 48 to 84 so, blankslatejoe, you are right.

Aldous Huxley's Brave New World, which I'm currently reading, was published in 1932.
 

Stewart

Senior Member
Reading Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World was inspired by realising that I hadn’t read any of a recent list stating the top twenty geek novels. Given that my impressions of geek literature being hardcore science fiction and adventures in elfworld it was pleasant to discover that this novel, over seventy years after its publication, is still fresh. I would tend to think, however, that its endurance is due to its satirical tone rather than any sort of geeky idolisation as, despite its futuristic setting, it deals more with its characters rather than the world around them.

Set in a dystopian society in 2540AD or, as the book calls it, AF632 (AF meaning After Ford) the novel presents an almost perfect society where war and poverty has been eliminated at the cost of family, culture, and religion. The whole world is considered to be a single state and the central tenets are those, as you would expect, of the industrialist Henry Ford. Fordism is the semi-religious doctrine that permeates this society: his sayings are gospel, his name is said in vain, the cross has been replaced by the ‘T’; indeed, in a motion similar to crossing oneself, the citizens make the sign of the ‘T’. An interesting idea, perhaps, but the incessant expletives (“for Ford’s sake!”, “oh my Ford!”, etc.) do lose some of their humour and power.

It begins, with little narrative, in the Central London Hatching and Conditioning Centre, a place where human beings are raised are ‘bottled’ (raised in test tubes) and then conditioned via radiation and Pavlovian techniques to become one of the five social castes of society (the independent Alphas through to the half-retarded Epsilons). Once fit for society the citizens are then ‘decanted’. The Director of this centre is giving a tour to a group and shows them the bottled embryos passing along a conveyor belt as they are treated with chemicals to determine the future intelligence and physical attributes of the embryo. He then shows them the nursery where some children are being conditioned to loathe, of all things, books and flowers.

Then, moving on, we meet one of the world’s controllers, a man named Mustapha Mond. He tells the touring children about the World State and the benefits that attempts to quash peoples’ emotions and relationships has made on society. Indeed, in this world, there is no marriage, grief, or joy – promiscuous sex is actively encouraged, death is no big deal, and games only serve to further the economy.

More characters, from here, are introduced into the narrative as Huxley’s world escapes the Hatchery and Conditioning Centre and goes further afield. The self-conscious Bernard Marx gets permission from the Director to visit a savage reservation in New Mexico; Lenina Crowne, attracted to him, accepts his offer to join him. Helmholm Watson, a hypnopaedia writer (slogans that are repeated and learnt whilst citizens sleep) shows discontent at his job feeling, as an Alpha, that he is capable of much more. And, in New Mexico, they meet John and his mother Linda, a pair of savages discontent with their world. Returning to London attempts are made to integrate John into society but, his world is shaped by Shakespeare (he found a copy of his complete works) and he disagrees with the dystopian World State, arguing with Mond until each character goes their own way (John to exile; Marx exiled.) and the final denouement.

Brave New World could have been better, there’s no doubt about that. The obvious hindrance was a narrative that never really centered on one character: one minute we were touring the hatchery, the next we’re following Bernard who, in turn, slinked into the shadows when John was introduced. Huxley has ideas, though, and amidst his obvious taste for neologisms (centrifugal Bumble-puppy!) gets his ideas across fairly well although this can be at the cost of the narrative as the climactic argument between John and Mond goes back and forward with neither being right. The World Controller argues that society is better off when nobody reflects on the past, when people aren’t given any time to themselves, and when there is nothing to be emotional about and that eliminated studies (history, religion, science) are wrongs that require control while John, in his misunderstanding of the World State, believes that people should have freedom of thought and be allowed to suffer emotions to make them human. Of course, in a world where people are made to order, made on Ford’s assembly line, he has little chance of ever making a point.

The writing in Brave New World is fine, if a tad verbose at times or scientific at others (dolichocephalic!) with, as previously mentioned, a world of neologistic commodities (pneumatic armchairs, for example). Dialogue is alright and serves to paint a more accurate picture of the characters but it is not entirely realistic and sometimes serves as device for infodumps. The characters, however, are hard to follow as they feature for little periods and, while you get an idea of what drives them, you don’t get a complete sense of their role within the story, especially as to their reactions by the novel’s close.

While I liked Brave New World one of the hardest things for me to do was imagine Huxley’s vision as it would be incarnate. When I think of future societies I am given to thoughts of Fritz Lang’s Metropolis but, when least expected, Huxley would throw in the countryside, savage reservations, and, unexpectedly, a lighthouse. I understand that these elements demonstrate a world that strives to be perfect but suffers from underlying problems (the people are kept happy by use of recreational drugs rather than any utopian positivity) that mean it is still a burgeoning dystopia rather than fully realised with its wheels completely greased. Overall, it’s an attractive novel, full of ideas, but one that suffers from a lack of organisation with them.
 

WriteStuff

Senior Member
Thank you everybody for your comments. I have never tried a book review so that was a first try.

I would rate Brave New World at about a 6 out of 10. It was interesting for parts, but a lot of it was slow and it was really slow at the end.
 

Stewart

Senior Member
WriteStuff said:
I have never tried a book review so that was a first try.

It was well done then. One thing to note, perhaps, is that your review mostly covered the plot. When writing your next review try to factor in your own opinion on other things such as characters, setting, description, dialogue, etc.

That way it's more of a review than a synopsis.
 

Mike C

WF Veterans
Brave New World was, at the time, a twist in the SF genre as it used a utopian ideal, as had been espoused in victorian SF, to portray what was actually a dystopian society while highlighting Huxley's feelings about the current (then) world.

1984 was a dystopian novel that satirised London in 1948. It was originally intended to be published under the title 1948, but his publishers refused.

The only connection between BNW and 1984 is that Huxley taught Orwell (French, I believe) in school.
 

Syren

Senior Member
There's a bit o trivia for ya.

I dug the book. Great stuff. Read the book. You likey. ;)
 
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