Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Brave New World

From the back cover: "Aldous Huxley's tour de force, 'Brave New World' is a darkly satiric vision of a 'utopian' future - where humans are genetically bred and pharmaceutically anesthetized to passively serve a ruling order. A powerful work of speculative fiction that has enthralled and terrified readers for generations, it remains remarkably relevant to this day as both a warning to be heeded as we head into tomorrow and as thought-provoking, satisfying entertainment."

I first read "Brave New World" twenty years ago. It's amazing how much of the novel I had forgot, only really remembering the general premise of a society that bred different classes of citizens for specific purposes in society. A society where consumption is the common goal of all and where everyone is controlled through genetic engineering, adolescent conditioning, and pharmaceuticals. Though Huxley's vision of the future is terrifying, I have to say that I found certain parts of his dystopia not so bad. Specifically the total elimination of religion from society (if man is happy what does he need with religion?) and progressive attitudes that were given to sexual activity. I'm sure these aspects of the novel were meant to be terrifying in the 1930's when the book was published.

I was also unclear as to the place of John, "the savage" in the novel. Not giving too much away, he is dropped into the modern world after a lifetime of living in the wilds of a New Mexican Reservation, an area untouched and segregated from the new world order. I found many of his religious and social practices just as unappealing as those of the utopian society. I'm not sure if this was the intent of the author. Now that I'm reacquainted with the novel, I need to read some analysis about it and the author.

An excellent novel that I highly recommend. The narrative is as fresh and dark a look at what the future may hold as if it were written today.


Mr Happy said...

Dave...You read a book that says something!?! Cool. Have you considered that Huxley is actually presenting two opposite possibilities for the future - as you said, equally disturbing? One culture is based on science, structure, human engineering, sacrificing the identity & individuality of each for the good of all. The other based on raw passion, self centered and self serving, without the constraints of education, religion, and common good. One culture is ultimately all-powerful, the other powerless. (There is quasi-religious ritual in the Mexican village, but no religion - same as most churches in our culture.) Anyway, be careful not to read too many books with substance, they make you think. Remember, "Drink More, Think Less".

Dave said...

I have thought about Huxley "presenting two opposite possibilities," but I wasn't sure not knowing a whole lot about the author and his "world view" espcially during the 1930's.