September 22, 2012

Brave New World by Aldous Huxley


Read: September 2012
Rating: 4/5
"Actual happiness always looks pretty squalid in comparison with the over-compensations for misery. And, of course, stability isn't nearly so spectacular as instability. And being contented has none of the glamour of a good fight against misfortune, none of the picturesqueness of a struggle with temptation, or a fatal overthrow by passion or doubt. Happiness is never grand."
In Brave New World we see a society of happy people, not bothered by diseases, feelings, thoughts and even death. A society in which everyone is brought up to be contented with his social rank and not to wish for any other fate. The reader is allowed to follow a life cycle of a man in this world, starting from the incubator and conditioning center, proceeding through the shallow divertissements of the youth (and everybody is young here until the death) until the hospital for the dying.

There are still places in this new world where people live as "savages", having parents and marriages and religion. The world of reservation is contrasted with the civilized world through the few characters, that are allowed to move from one world to another. Their convictions are contrasted with the ways of the society behind the barbed wire and the consequences are grievous.

The novel begins as a usual Utopian excursion, but ends as reflections about religion and mankind. For me this change was a bit unexpected, and I can't say that I enjoyed all the biblical allusions in the last part of the book. I prefer a dystopian novel to stay a normal dystopian novel, not to turn into a religious treatise. Apart from this, the book is terrific, and is definitely a must-read, especially for those who enjoy utopias and science fiction!

Can't refrain from comparing Brave New World to 1984 here, and I must say, that growing children in the bottles and "conditioning" them in the necessary way seems much more effective than controlling their whole life. If you have brought them up so that they do not think, do not feel and do not want anything, you don't need to control them at all, in fact. And the few who happened to develop some thought can be sent to islands and forgotten. In this aspect Huxley's dystopia seems to be more believable than Orwell's. Makes me think!


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This book is from my Classics Club book list. Of course, it is not "classics" from the "classical" viewpoint, but it is definitely the classics of science fiction and dystopian literature, so I think it fits perfectly. The ideas from this book are still powerful today and keep repeating themselves in the works of fiction. What is it if not the definition of classics?

5 comments:

  1. These are interesting thoughts. I'm not sure I really understood Brave New World when I read it, I should probably go for an "adult" rereading. :)

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    1. Yes, is's not a children's book definitely =) I think you'll enjoy it as a grown-up!

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  2. Huxley is turning in his grave nearly 100 years after his visionary prophecies began to form into his own mode of fiction. He is one of my favorite authors and raised serious issues and made world-wide breakthroughs in the research of psychedelics as well as our cognitive liberties. I drew a portrait as homage to the man and his works. See the him roll with the mushrooms, the pills and the doors of perception at http://dregstudiosart.blogspot.com/2010/07/aldous-huxley-rolls-in-his-grave.html

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  3. I think you are quite right in your comparison of Huxley and Orwell! I have always found Orwell to be a bit flimsy, as if the images he shows are made up of translucent tissue paper, for all their detail and poignancy.

    It has been a very long time since I read this book (I cannot off the top of my head think where it is on my bookshelves!), and I think it would be worth a re-read when I find the time.

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    1. I think it'll be a good re-read, I'm also planning to do so some time, when I'm very old and wise =) It's the kind of a book you always can find something new in.

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