Brave New World by Aldous Huxley

‘Brave New World’ by Aldous Huxley is one of the most famous dystopian novels of all time. I’m generally not a fan of science-fiction but this book is undeniably a classic.  Set in London hundreds of years in the future in which humans are conditioned in a caste system of Alphas, Betas, Gammas, Deltas and Epsilons, ‘Brave New World’ initially presents an ‘ideal’ World State to the reader.  But below-average Alpha, Bernard Marx, believes there is something missing in this society where everybody is supposedly ‘happy’.  The arrival of John ‘the Savage’ from outside the World State inevitably raises even more questions about just how ‘ideal’ this society really is.

As opposed to the more optimistic utopian visions of the future of H.G. Wells, some aspects of the society presented in the novel such as the total absence of individuality are still as nightmarish today as they were in the 1930s. But other aspects have already become a reality such as test-tube babies albeit in a less sinister context than Huxley had anticipated.  However, even Huxley himself was alarmed by how quickly his predictions of the consumer society and more sexual promiscuity had come true.

Unlike George Orwell’s vision of the future in ‘1984’ where a totalitarian government controls everything by force, the citizens of the World State in ‘Brave New World’ are so content with the way things are that they have no understanding of the concept of freedom.  As the consequences of the World State’s policies begin to unravel, the reader sees just how disturbing the situation really is, in spite of the fact that the characters themselves do not exactly live in constant fear having already been so highly conditioned.

‘Brave New World’ was scarily prophetic and ahead of its time when it was first published in 1932.  Eighty years later, it still provokes just as many questions today and may even be more relevant now than it was in the 1930s.  Overall, ‘Brave New World’ is a highly unsettling but worthwhile read.

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6 Comments

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6 responses to “Brave New World by Aldous Huxley

  1. doiank

    great and shocking book!

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  2. Looks interesting… I will be keeping an eye out for this in the second hand shops.

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  3. Pingback: Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury | A Little Blog of Books and Other Stuff

  4. Thanks for the drop by and the like.

    You’re off to a good start on the reading list. As for BNW, there’s an argument to be made that while Orwell was trying to wake people up (he did that a lot, see my post on Wigan PIer if you care to) Huxley was trying to shock people out of lassitude.

    Unfortunately, lassitude seems to be winning. If you want a challenge, look into Herbert Marcuse’s concept of repressive sublimation which he put forth at about the same time as BNW was written.

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  5. Mavis

    Just send a sample of Brave New World to my kindle. I LOVED 1984, and I’m sure this will do it for me too.

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  6. Pingback: Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury | A Little Blog of Books and Other Stuff

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