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Friday, January 25, 2013

Brave New World - Aldous Huxley

Aldous Huxley's Brave New World is a fascinating view of what could be if society would set aside its obsession with religion and emotions.

As an employee at the Hatchery and Conditioning Center, Bernard Marx has the privilege of knowing the secrets of exactly how children are created. Children are hatched, not born, and then separated into one of five castes. And from then on they are given the appropriate nutrition and conditioning to ensure their compliance.

Unlike others around him, Bernard is extremely discontent with life. Unlike others of the Alpha caste, he is short, which leads to jokes about alcohol accidentally being fed to him during incubation. While others around him simply take Soma, the government-granted drug, to ease their troubles, he feels an aversion for the substance. Bernard takes a special liking to a woman named Lenina Crowne. Like most people in their society, Lenina is free with her physical affections; however, Bernard, unlike the rest of society, finds this a reason to be jealous.

When Bernard and Lenina take their vacation in New Mexico they aren't prepared for what they encounter. They find to their horror that people still live in family units, that they still practice religion, and they don't indulge in Soma to keep themselves under control. They meet a native named John, who they take back with them to England.

Upon learning about this society, John finds himself just as horrified as Bernard and Lenina. His arrival starts a mess of events in the utopia that lead him straight to the local World Controller, Mustapha Mond. John argues with Mustapha Mond about how the conditions in which people live in the utopia are unacceptable. He makes objections that many readers have probably had in their own minds while reading the novel, yet the World Controller has an equal response for every one.

The novel ends in tragedy for many of the characters and left me with feelings of confusion and awe.

Huxley's novel has been challenged many times for language and pornographic imagery. It has also been called anti-family and anti-religion. Unlike objections to other books, I found these objections easily understandable when reading. Still, it is an excellent novel that challenges the reader to see things from a different perspective.

Recommended Reads:
Flatland: A Romance of Many Dimensions by Edwin A. Abbott
A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess

2 comments:

  1. 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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    1. I think you're right that Huxley would be greatly disturbed to see what has been wrought. He and others who wrote books like this had wrote these books as a way of warning.

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