Oscillates between extremes of excellence and incomprehensibility. I didn't appreciate the care Joyce put into its structure as I was reading, but a lOscillates between extremes of excellence and incomprehensibility. I didn't appreciate the care Joyce put into its structure as I was reading, but a lot of it made sense after I was finished and thought back through it. In many ways it's a success. Joyce captures everyone's experience of being smothered by adolescent/teenage motivations and fears, and then subsequently growing out of them and into your own self. Other parts read like zero-draft self-obsessive word barf that should have been cleaned up on later passes. The fifth and final chapter is both, neatly sewing up the novel while also dragging the reader through countless bizarrely disjointed conversations between Stephen and a string of pompous college buddies wandering in and out of the scene. Which I think were supposed to be profound and/or funny but I kinda thought were neither, or anyway chunks of them were in Latin and if I’m just not educated enough to catch all the allusions that’s fine.
It’s also a bit dated so Stephen’s specific, very traditional, experiences could be read as antiquated and uninteresting. Early on I thought maybe my disinterest in his internal battle with religion would derail the book for me, but I could appreciate the meta-meaning. And it’s not like we don’t still have traditional vs. progressive battles in 2016.
I hadn’t read this before, but I did read its coming-of-age peer Catcher in the Rye as a teenager, then again in my twenties, and I loved it both times. I ought to revisit it while Portrait is fresh in my brain....more
Updated April 2013: Third or fourth time I've read Brave New World, and I'm taking it down from four stars to three. It felt a bit more dated, a littlUpdated April 2013: Third or fourth time I've read Brave New World, and I'm taking it down from four stars to three. It felt a bit more dated, a little less relevant, than it has on other reads in the past. There's a quaintness about it that feels false or overly conservative to me now. Society is portrayed as backwards because there's no religion, for example. It's still interesting satire, and visionary in many ways, but there's a clear "right" sort of lifestyle it's out to contrast that doesn't always make sense.
Original review: If you could have a life of happiness and leisure, you'd want that, right? Maybe not, if the cost was some personal freedom or a loss of depth and meaning in your life, or if you thought you might get bored or too soft and spoiled. But then, what if you wouldn't even think to worry about that because you'd been genetically and behaviorally conditioned not to? This is what Brave New World tackles. I thought it might be something like a dire vision of the future, a la 1984, but it isn't the same kind of scary. 1984 was about a horrific world dominated by fear and pain, but BNW goes to the extreme in the other direction, where there's so much distraction no one cares about anything else. Society is overly docile and unimaginative and copes with even the most minor problems by escaping with ubiquitous drugs. [See an interesting thematic comparison of the two.] Huxley was definitely on to something... But it's not black and white, either. Where 1984 projects an unambiguously bad possible outcome for everyone, one's opinion of what exactly is wrong with BNW's society is debatable. Different readers will find different aspects frightening, offensive, or immoral, but one might also wonder if that society doesn't at least have a few things going for it. Overall, a really interesting and important read. ...more
Read in high school and didn't remember it a bit. Felt like I'd ceased to get most cultural references to it, which means I may as well have never reaRead in high school and didn't remember it a bit. Felt like I'd ceased to get most cultural references to it, which means I may as well have never read it. Way to absorb important literature, idiot teenage Josh.
I think I expected it to be quaint, maybe like its themes were from a different time and hard to relate to. Not at all, though: it remains very relevant. Highly readable, great characters, and effectively captures a lot about American life and culture.