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Island

3.85 of 5 stars 3.85  ·  rating details  ·  10,707 ratings  ·  636 reviews
In Island, his last novel, Huxley transports us to a Pacific island where, for 120 years, an ideal society has flourished. Inevitably, this island of bliss attracts the envy and enmity of the surrounding world. A conspiracy is underway to take over Pala and events begin to move when an agent of the conspirators, a newspaperman named Faranby, is shipwrecked there. What Fara ...more
Paperback, 354 pages
Published July 30th 2002 by Harper Perennial (first published 1962)
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The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins1984 by George OrwellThe Giver by Lois LowryDivergent by Veronica RothBrave New World by Aldous Huxley
Best Dystopian and Post-Apocalyptic Fiction
94th out of 1,882 books — 16,690 voters
The Stranger by Albert CamusSiddhartha by Hermann Hesse1984 by George OrwellThe Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-ExupéryCrime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoyevsky
Best Philosophical Literature
108th out of 533 books — 1,589 voters


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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Tom
Aug 22, 2008 Tom rated it 2 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: stoners
This book was simply unbearable to read. The only reason I slugged through it was out of respect for Huxley and for the occasional snippets of philosophical wisdom I discovered along the way.

The theme is pure Huxley: intelligent, open-minded man gets shipwrecked on a remote tropical island where the native population has managed to create a utopia. The man meets a variety of people over a period of days who explain Pala's (the name of the island) unique culture.

The story is actually a successi
...more
Aubrey
I'm on a roll. Or rather I've finally figured out how to find lots of books that I'll love. So many five stars, and it's only February. Anyways.

This book is like a savory meal that is extremely good for you. Or any activity that is rewarding in all the right ways. Hardin's 'Tragedy of the Commons' comes to mind, or more a massive extension on its logic in a world where there's a country that fully accepts it. Will brings enough cynicism into the utopia to put up a good fight, but his acceptance
...more
Mohit Parikh
Let me open the review with a bold but defensible statement: This work has no literary merit. This "sci-fi" (Huxley couple were not happy that this work was considered a science fiction) utopian novel is a vehicle to deliver what Huxley believed to be The answer to one of the most critical questions of our existence - we know the present value systems are fucked up but what is the alternative? The Island, Pala, is where Huxley materializes in words his vision, relying and borrowing heavily from ...more
Jodi
I'm not even finished with this and already it has had a profound effect on me. I resonate with this book like Cat's Cradle or Stranger in a Strange Land. It will take me two or three more reads—at least—to grok it in fullness, but it already feels as if some of the thoughts were for me, some of me. It's been a very long time since I fell so profoundly in love with a book, and it's a delicious, delightful, very spiritual experience.
Chaz
Jun 10, 2008 Chaz rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Brave New World readers
It should be stated as a caveat to this review, that I believe that Huxley is one of the most important, intellectual, and enlightened mystics of the 20th century. I originally read this book 8 or nine years ago when my knowledge of spirituality, religion, and literature was sparse. However, it was one of those books that struck me like lightning and forever change the way I frame the world and our society.So a re-read…
Island is an active dialogue between relatively few characters who bring Huxl
...more
John Doe
Dec 08, 2012 John Doe rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Hippies pretending to be Yuppies.
Shelves: reviewed
My GRE Test Prep book says that qualifying and generally narrowing the scope of your thesis does not in any way undermine the effectiveness of your argument. On the contrary it makes the argument appear scholarly, more convincing. The persuasive power of Huxley’s utopia similarly rests in a kind of measured ambition. That is, while it is certainly naïve to assume human beings will ever solve all of their important problems, it also cannot be denied that these problems are all too often caused by ...more
Kainan
Aesthetically, not his best work, but wonderful none the less. The book is basically just an essay on politics, science, philosophy, religion, society, man, and ultimately, Utopia, masked as a novel. This is a forewarning to those looking for deep characters or a driving plot. However, the debate set forth by Huxley is more than a little intriguing, and should definitely hold the attention of anyone who has dreamed of a better life for the world and the people in it. One of the biggest arguments ...more
Karla Butler
Aldous Huxley wrote this just before he died and to me this is his swan song. Island is set somewhere in the Pacific and depicts an Englishman's journey of spiritual enlightenment and self discovery. A progressive community takes mind-altering drugs and rejects conventional societal values for their own utopia. Everyone has the freedom to choose their own work, worship their own gods and have sex freely without the taboos of Western civilization. The community are exceptionally kind and open to ...more
Hadrian
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Stela

Strange things, these novels of ideas. You read, you read, so charmed and challenged by the intellectual debate that somewhere along the road you completely forget to pay attention to the plot, to the characters and generally to all that makes the essence of a novel. And only in the end you ask yourself if it is a novel what you’ve just read after all. The explanation is of course quite simple: plot and characters are only embodiments of ideas and such writings, while mimicking the narrative str
...more
Preeta
This is a book to read and re-read for the philosophical and spiritual issues that it examines. The utopia of Pala is examined by an outsider, much like ourselves. Will has been brought up through the typical patriarchal pedagogy, which resents and demeans anything different.

He learns to embrace a parallel if not complementary way of living. The Palanese integrate teachings across philosophies (not just religions) of Hinduism, Buddhism, and Christianity and accept the spectrum of individuals (m
...more
El
The biggest problem I have with books centered on Utopian themes is that they are written more like a how-to guide than an actual novel. At least with dystopic literature things happen as well as playing as a mirror to the past society before it went "bad". With Utopian novels you have a character, usually a cynic (Will Farnaby here), who stumbles upon/is shipwrecked upon/falls asleep and wakes up in/etc. a brand new world. (Yes, that was an Aldous Huxley joke.) In Will's case, he was shipwrecke ...more
John
My wife and I have been preparing for next year's season premiere of ABC's hit series, Lost, and decided to watch all four seasons' prior episodes. As part of the experience, we looked at the Lost Book Club offerings and noticed that Aldous Huxley's "Island (Perennial Classics) was included.

On seeing that online listing, I was reminded that I had read the book about a decade after it was originally published (in 1962), while I was in high school. Although most of us growing up in the 1960s were
...more
Joanne
This is one of my new all time favourite books - strangely, I'd never heard of it until very recently. Huxley's expansive literacy in every genre is demonstrated masterfully in this treatise on modern society. Oddly, the backbone story is not terrific: the main character is a pitiful, selfish man with a broken sense of self and a wounded ego. Instead, what makes the book so rich, readable and re-readable is the intriguing way that Huxley demonstrates how humans always become the subjects of the ...more
Bandit
I'm a huge fan of Brave New World. I think that book is a timeless masterpiece of dystopian fiction. In Island, Huxley's last book, he presents us with the other side of the coin, the utopia that might have saved the world from the Brave New World's future or at least an alternative to such a life. However, for the most part (and particularly the ending) Island reads like an LSD trip and for all we know it was, Huxley was well known for his use of LSD and other psychodelics. Basically all the fa ...more
Simon Mcleish
Originally published on my blog here in September 2000.

Huxley's last novel is one of his most flawed. It is his Utopia, contrasting with his masterpiece, Brave New World. Basically, the island of Pala is a hippie paradise; a Buddhist state in the Indian Ocean, with a drug to bring higher consciousness (like LSD, in which Huxley was interested, was supposed to). Western journalist Will Farnaby is washed ashore on Pala, and falls for the charm of its inhabitants.

The novel basically consists of a g
...more
Jenni
A little hard to stay with this one. A man is shipwrecked on an island populated by the perfect society. A typical Huxley book, he exploits and criticizes the basest elements of his current society by contrasting it with the earth-friendly, free love island's society. His protagonist laughs like a hyena, has flashbacks of his miserable existence, and was essentially trying to get to this island to get a deal for oil companies, which would essentially destroy the island's balance and idealism. I' ...more
Lee
All about Soma which is like all about this totally cool combo of prozac and more psychoactively intense "medications" . . . read it in the passenger seat of a VW Golf driving back east from California after high-school graduation during the First Bush's reign of terror. Think I finished it by Cheyenne. Way enjoyable.
Joseph
one of the best books I've ever read
expanded my awarenes of people from around the time it was written jiddu krishnamurti,joseph campbell etc.
was like a good quality movie
got me interested in the idea of utopia
Chris
This is not Huxley's best book, even though the author himself considered it his most important. I'll leave the question of importance unaddressed and simply state that the first half is a thrillingly honest description of an isolated utopia free of dogmatic religion and full of healthy unrepressed human sexuality. Unfortunately the second half descends into a drug-induced Buddhism-inspired weird spirituality and is close to unreadable. Many readers would be advised to skip the second half entir ...more
Snotchocheez
The original paperback printing of this had sat mouldering on the bookshelf longer than I can remember (easily over 40 years); the cover hardly calling out to me "READ ME" (given it's not nearly so picturesque as the reprinting above): it's got a 60s-era illustration of a scantily-clad island-girl with glassy dilated-pupil eyeballs staring at the beholder with a "Come Hither...I'm the woman of every man's island fantasy!" look. As an eight-year-old, the cover creeped me out. As an eighteen-year- ...more
Tancredi
"Non possiamo liberarci con la ragione della nostra fondamentale irrazionalità. Possiamo soltanto imparare l'arte di essere irrazionali in modo ragionevole."

Ultima e matura opera di Aldous Huxley, L'Isola è un classico romanzo del genere utopistico, classico già nella scelta dello stesso titolo: quale immagine migliore dell'isola?
Pubblicato appena prima della morte dell'autore, scritto parzialmente sotto gli effetti della mescalina, pensato come ad una risposta alla buia distopia de Il mondo nu
...more
Persephone Abbott
Huxley was born in Great Britain in 1894 in an era that saw extreme changes in the quality of European life. Still as an adult he chose to move to America and live in what some may have called the “land of inventions or modernity”. All in all there was at this period in history a globally recognized and distinct train of thought for the betterment of the world through modern technology and this was, yes, well advertised. And at the same time of radical change in people’s lives, comes the worry t ...more
Alexander
Utopia is derived from Greek meaning 'no place,' and this philosophical novel certainly drove that point home for me.

The skeleton of a plot exists solely to set up Socratic exchanges between the shipwrecked, cynical Brit and his fantastically benevolent island hosts -- which in turn are vehicles for us to learn about how the island (Pala) became such a fantastic place.

The thing is, the Palanese answers to society's deepest problems are, at root, so simplistic and absurd that they don't provide m
...more
Helen
I can see what's being done here. I enjoyed un picking the philosophical references and notions: the slight philosophical 'feel' of the book: the evident exploration of the possibilities of life - both good and evil, the need to 'attend' to that which we would rather bury - the 'inner journey' of Will Farnaby's character and so on. And I enjoyed certain passages of the book and some of the language, though generally I find Huxley's writing very dry. In all honesty, I found this book rather tedio ...more
Mark
As has been pointed out this isn't much of a novel. The characters are not deeply formed, they are mostly rather annoying (the references to "flayed smiles" get wearisome after a while), and most of them talk like Aldous Huxley. But I give it five stars and would give it more if I could!

I read this after Huxley's series of lectures, "The Human Situation". That is perhaps more readable than Island, and gives more background for some of his ideas. For instance, the practice in Pala of introducing
...more
Marshall
I enjoyed a lot of things about this Utopian counterpart to Brave New World. This very hopeful novel about an isolated island culture spiritually thrives, applying only the greatest influences of world religion to it's social, political, and educational systems. Very thorough in offering solutions to incomplete or corrupted western thought and action. I would recommend this novel to any educator, parent, politician, human being. What are the greatest values of our complex Nature and how do we co ...more
Chris
Jul 27, 2008 Chris rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: hippies looking for a wake-up call
There are going to be references to “Brave New World” in here. That almost can’t be avoided, the two ought to be sold together. I try not to cite other works and make comparisons or references, but I’m also going to acknowledge that anyone reading “Island” has probably read “BNW”. Face it, brah, you’re probably a weirdo if this isn’t the case. Anyone in here with that singular honor? Oh, I see the guy wearing the Chicago Cubs jersey becapped mesh trucker hat endorsing Mad Dog 20/20 has put down ...more
Alyssa
I wanted to like this book more than I actually did. "Brave New World" is one of my favorite dystopias, so I was excited to see how Huxley tackled a utopia, and to see how his thoughts on society matured between his writing of "Brave New World" and "Island"-- his last novel. I felt the result was slightly disappointing.
While all dystopias and utopias are comments on society, and almost all utopia/dystopia authors have an agenda which they would like the reader to come to after reading the work,
...more
Paul Kieniewicz
"Island" is Aldous Huxley's answer to "Brave New World". The latter is a world gone wrong. It's much harder to build a world where everything goes right. Which is why there aren't many "utopias" on the fiction shelf in Waterstones.

He is right in his assertion that a personal transformation is key and must come first. That political solutions will never work. However I take issue with his advocacy of mind expanding drugs. Perhaps a good experience with LSD is necessary to jolt the sleeper out of
...more
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EDCMOOC: Discussion questions 5 19 Jul 06, 2013 10:34AM  
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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 es ...more
More about Aldous Huxley...
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“It’s dark because you are trying too hard. Lightly child, lightly. Learn to do everything lightly. Yes, feel lightly even though you’re feeling deeply. Just lightly let things happen and lightly cope with them. So throw away your baggage and go forward. There are quicksands all about you, sucking at your feet, trying to suck you down into fear and self-pity and despair. That’s why you must walk so lightly. Lightly my darling...” 174 likes
“Armaments, universal debt, and planned obsolescence—those are the three pillars of Western prosperity. If war, waste, and moneylenders were abolished, you'd collapse. And while you people are overconsuming the rest of the world sinks more and more deeply into chronic disaster.” 136 likes
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