Tuesday, 5 April 2016

Review #36 - Brave New World

Title: Brave New World
Author: Aldous Huxley
Published: 1932


A brief synopsis; (Via Goodreads)
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...

Huxley's ingenious fantasy of the future sheds a blazing light on the present and is considered to be his most enduring masterpiece.


Aldous Leonard Huxley was an English writer and one of the most prominent members of the famous Huxley family. He spent the latter part of his life in the United States, living in Los Angeles from 1937 until his death in 1963. Best known for his novels and wide-ranging output of essays, he also published short stories, poetry, travel writing, and film stories and scripts. 

Through his novels and essays Huxley functioned as an examiner and sometimes critic of social mores, norms and ideals. Huxley was a humanist but was also interested towards the end of his life in spiritual subjects such as parapsychology and philosophical mysticism. By the end of his life, Huxley was widely acknowledged as one of the pre-eminent intellectuals of his time.

This is a book that pretty much every student would be familiar with one way or another - whether it is through an exam or coursework. My experience is coursework - I compared the dystopian nature of this novel to that of Murakami's within Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World. It's actually quite odd to be talking about Brave New World by itself.

I both simultaneously loved and hated it. There is literally no other way to put - and I think it's because, fundamentally, I found it boring. But I'm a lover of dystopian so it was kind of a catch-22 situation.

As both a history student and self-proclaimed buff, the communist aspect and referrals to Ford within the novel were great to me. It was so clear how Huxley's personal life, and the political discrepancies he lived through, had influenced his novel - without turning it into political propaganda.

The plot, whilst not dull, lacks excitement. Huxley writes in a way that makes the protagonist's life appear extraordinarily dull, yet he repeatedly challenges this through self-reflection. Issues tackled within the novel include bullying in the adult world, social class structure and hierarchies, and alienation.

This is a great novel to view from a Marxist perspective, and not just because of the communist aspect of the novel. I feel as though it is missing on critical acclaim; I'm not familiar with George Orwell's Animal Farm, but I feel as though that novel is far more recognised that Huxley's Brave New World - perhaps that is because the former is a greater literary achievement, but again, I don't know.

This book may not be everyone's cup of tea - whilst lacking colloquialisms, it is heavily inundated with technological talk that the every day, average person might not understand.

It is actually quite scary, thinking of the totalitarian government that Huxley presents. The idea of conditioning, (if you've heard of Pavlov's dog, then you know what conditioning is) and how easily attainable it actually is, is downright frightening. Talk about being brainwashed by the government. 
"It isn’t only art that is incompatible with happiness, it’s also science. Science is dangerous, we have to keep it most carefully chained and muzzled."

“Books and loud noises, flowers and electric shocks — already in the infant mind these couples were compromisingly linked; and after two hundred repetitions of the same or a similar lesson would be wedded indissolubly. What man has joined, nature is powerless to put asunder.”

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