Cori's Reviews > Brave New World

Brave New World by Aldous Huxley
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Aug 06, 07

Recommended for: dystopian book lovers
Read in July, 2007

From my blog (yeah, I know it's lengthy):

I'm finding myself drawn to dystopian novels lately. Not really sure why. I think it's partly because Margaret Atwood's The Handmaid's Tale had such an effect on me when I was in college, and I'm constantly looking for something that disquiets my soul in the same way. And I very much enjoyed Fahrenheit 451. Plus books like this keep popping out at me at the library. Anyway, my next foray into dystopia was Brave New World by Aldous Huxley.

The future Earth Huxley creates in the book is ironically idyllic. People are genetically engineered for certain work, and each person is conditioned to love their lot in life, even if it's digging a pit or controlling an elevator. Huxley writes, "'And that,' put in the Director sententiously, 'that is the secret of happiness and virtue -- liking what you've got to do. All conditioning aims at that: making people like their inescapable social destiny.'"

People work their seven and a half hours a day, and then spend the rest of their time playing games, going to the "feelies" (movies with physical sensations), and having all the sex they can have with whomever they want. Because all people are engineered in bottles, "Mother" and "Father" are essentially swear words, and only the savages still raise their own children. Everyone is permanently happy, and if they are not they can just pop a few grams of Soma, a hallucinagen, and everything is fine.

The story centers around a few key characters in London: Bernard Marx, a scientist discontent with how unfeeling the world is, John Savage, a man raised out in the wilderness of New Mexico by Indians (who haven't been civilized) and unaccustomed to the world outside the reservation walls, and Lenina Crown, a woman who is loved (in different ways) by both Bernard and John (and a host of other guys too, now that I think about). The novel ends warning readers that such modern hedonism and mechanization of life has its consequences.

To me, this book almost seemed like a parody of other dystopian novels, even though it was one of the first. I didn't find it hit particularly close to home, which is how most novels really strike a chord with me. It wasn't really terrifying in any way. I thought Huxley was very creative since he turned God into Henry Ford, inventor of the Model T and the assembly line. Everyone walks around cursing "Oh Ford" instead of "Oh Lord." He also nailed our hedonistic culture right on the head (sex and drugs and games equal happiness), which is pretty awesome since he wrote the book in 1932.
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Servius  Heiner I like being a gamma, I would never want to be an Alpha, Alphas work to much.


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