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Brave New World
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Book Discussions > Brave New World by Aldous Huxley

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This is our discussion of the Classic SF Novel....

Brave New World by Aldous Huxley Brave New World by Aldous Huxley


1959 American Academy of Arts and Letters Award of Merit (for Brave New World)
1962 Companion of Literature (Royal Society of Literature)
Film adaptations of Huxley's work:
1980 Brave New World (US TV adaptation)
1998 Brave New World (US TV adaptation)

Natalie (haveah) | 123 comments 1993's Demolition Man is loosely (very loosely) based on A Brave New World.

Claudia Casser | 63 comments G33z3r wrote: "This is our discussion of the Classic SF Novel....

Brave New World by Aldous Huxley Brave New World by Aldous Huxley


1959 American Academy of Arts and Le..."

I always like to think of Brave New World as the third book in a political commentary on Marxism-Leninism starting with Animal Farm (the revolution) and 1984 (the technologically developed Leninist state). Brave New World, IMO the scariest of the three, is communism where "from each according to their abilities to each according to their needs" is realized NOT through coercion and deception, but by adapting and educating humans to want to perform their assigned social roles.

So, to the extent the deterministic vector of science deprives us of free will, while quantum physics returns its possibility, Brave New World does its best to deprive us of any fruits of the possibility of expressing free will.

In short, great book; but one whose vision sickens me.

On the other hand, nearly everyone in that society is happy. So why do I object to it?

Am in the middle of exploring that personal question in a long far-future short story (novella?) where an apostate "Amish Reborn" girl, now an auditor at Agnostics, Inc. working a file for the meta-Church of the Three Commandments, plays a key role in the election of the new High Priest of the Church of the Thinking Hedonist. :)

Powder River Rose (powderriverrose) Very nicely said and Welcome everyone to Brave New World. Here is some background from Wikipedia.

and from Cliff notes.

Since this is my first time reading this book and I'm off to work so haven't yet read the information from the links, I admit it took me a bit in the beginning to understand what was happening.

Freud also seems to be the fuel behind the fire unless they are saying Ford..... This is a rather frightening look at a futuristic world. I await your comments on Brave New World.

Brendan (mistershine) | 743 comments Excited for the discussion on this one, especially to see reactions of those reading it for the first time. For many years I considered it my favourite book, and i still rank it very highly as a book that shaped my views on both politics and literature.

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Powder River Rose wrote: "Since this is my first time reading this book.."

Interesting. In my day (oh, gawd, here he goes again) Brave New World was mandatory high school reading (along with 1984 & Animal Farm.) Of course, my day was the height of the Cold War (I think reading 1984 coincided with the Cuban Missile Crisis) and schools were making sure we were all properly indoctrinated.

Powder River Rose (powderriverrose) G33z3r wrote: "Powder River Rose wrote: "Since this is my first time reading this book.."

Interesting. In my day (oh, gawd, here he goes again) Brave New World was mandatory high school reading (alon..."

Hehehe. In my time....well I'm changing that now. Hehe

I keep thinking of Pavlov's (sp?) Dogs...especially when the babies with the roses and books scene was taking place.

message 8: by Powder River Rose (last edited Mar 01, 2016 10:36PM) (new)

Powder River Rose (powderriverrose) Now I understand a whole lot more than I did this morning. Oh Ford what a mistake I made.... I like the comparisons shown in Wikipedia:

"Social critic Neil Postman contrasted the worlds of Nineteen Eighty-Four and Brave New World in the foreword of his 1985 book Amusing Ourselves to Death. He writes:

What Orwell feared were those who would ban books. What Huxley feared was that there would be no reason to ban a book, for there would be no one who wanted to read one. Orwell feared those who would deprive us of information. Huxley feared those who would give us so much that we would be reduced to passivity and egotism. Orwell feared that the truth would be concealed from us. Huxley feared the truth would be drowned in a sea of irrelevance. Orwell feared we would become a captive culture. Huxley feared we would become a trivial culture, preoccupied with some equivalent of the feelies, the orgy porgy, and the centrifugal bumblepuppy. As Huxley remarked in Brave New World Revisited, the civil libertarians and rationalists who are ever on the alert to oppose tyranny "failed to take into account man's almost infinite appetite for distractions." In 1984, Orwell added, people are controlled by inflicting pain. In Brave New World, they are controlled by inflicting pleasure. In short, Orwell feared that what we fear will ruin us. Huxley feared that our desire will ruin us."

What do you think?

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Jim (jimmaclachlan) | 2227 comments Great comparisons. Thanks for posting them, Rose. Made me think of another venerable book that isn't mentioned along side these two often enough. I've never understood why.

...If the Government is inefficient, top-heavy, and tax-mad, better it be all those than that people worry over it. Peace, Montag. Give the people contests they win by remembering the words to more popular songs or the names of state capitals or how much corn Iowa grew last year. Cram them full of noncombustible data, chock them so damned full of 'facts' they feel stuffed, but absolutely `brilliant' with information. Then they'll feel they're thinking, they'll get a sense of motion without moving. And they'll be happy, because facts of that sort don't change. Don't give them any slippery stuff like philosophy or sociology to tie things up with. That way lies melancholy....

- Ray Bradbury Fahrenheit 451

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Jim wrote: ".... Ray Bradbury Fahrenheit 451..."

Gee, you should nominate that for one of our Classic book discussions someday. ;)

message 11: by Powder River Rose (last edited Mar 05, 2016 08:36AM) (new)

Powder River Rose (powderriverrose) Jim, that sounds pretty much like what, especially the young, people do now...... Contests, "facts," but also in our schools and colleges a skewed sense of philosophy or sociology.,,,,something that gives them a sense of power but only enough to tip the balance of society at a steady pace so as not to alarm anyone. Just thinking out loud.

I'm at the point in my listening where Bernard is bringing John and Linda back to London. Apparently in Brave society has a problem differing Freud from Ford. Why Freud? I'm thinking because of the societal repression of sexuality that created depression in his subjects so to counter that just open society to freedom from inhibitions and then you have happy people....well, that and the Soma.

James Parsons | 18 comments Some many films and books have been influenced by it over the decades. In recent times the film called The Island, which was alright but not perfect.

James Parsons | 18 comments Of course this classic book has dated, I would say because it commented upon some elements of society and behaviour very specific to the time that it was written, but much of it still remains very disturbing and prophetic even, while the prose does seem very old fashion. It was quite radical and provocative for the time.

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Mary Catelli | 746 comments The thing I noticed most about Brave New World was that with the islands, it could cope with oddballs. 1984 seemed ready to break if one slipped through.

Kelsey Gregory | 1 comments This is my first time reading Brave New World and I'm so excited. It is definitely one of those books that I'm not sure why I haven't gotten to yet. So I'm happy to have the opportunity! Anyways, so far I have read a few chapters and the first thing that came to my mind is how similar it is to We by Yevgeny Zamyatin, one of my favorite books of all time. Not only did I find the fictional worlds similar but also smaller details like labeling people in society by letters. I looked it up and although Huxley denies this, I found a quote from an Orwell essay in which he states that the two are probably linked:

"The first thing anyone would notice about We is the fact--never pointed out, I believe--that Aldous Huxley's Brave New World must be partly derived from it. Both books deal with the rebellion of the primitive human spirit against a rationalised, mechanised, painless world, and both stories are supposed to take place about six hundred years hence. The atmosphere of the two books is similar, and it is roughly speaking the same kind of society that is being described though Huxley's book shows less political awareness and is more influenced by recent biological and psychological theories."

If this is the case, I am even more excited to read this book and I might reread We just to really compare the two back to back.

message 16: by Powder River Rose (last edited Mar 05, 2016 08:40AM) (new)

Powder River Rose (powderriverrose) Kelsey I saw that comparison also. I will have to read more about We as soon as I get the time.

So I am at the point where Linda is likely dying and John is sitting with her; he just got done smacking a delta or gamma male child for playing near his mother. The children are being conditioned to accept death without fear which I don't have a problem with, without attachment or emotional response I do take issue with. We are afraid of death now but there was a time when it was an accepted part of life. Working with hospice patients and studying the history of death and dying in different cultures this acceptance has been/ is very natural and families are a part of it including children; they are among the dying and not driven away only to fear this very sacred part of life.
Now I do realize that the children are be conditioned for possibly more sinister means but the concept is acceptable to me.

Your opinions....

Powder River Rose (powderriverrose) I finished today and liked it. The conversation between John and MM really detailed society and was quite enlightening. What an ending.....

Thoughts? How far along is everyone?

message 18: by [deleted user] (last edited Mar 05, 2016 06:05AM) (new)

Powder River Rose wrote: "How far along is everyone?"

Well, I'm still working on it. I'd forgotten how hard it was to read physical books. They don't hold themselves open on the treadmill console, nor do they change font size. Also, I can't highlight passages I want to talk about later without ruining the book, nor can I copy & paste quotations. Nor can I search the text! Curses!

I suppose I can't blame Gutenberg. He did the best he could with what he had to work with. :)

message 19: by [deleted user] (last edited Mar 05, 2016 06:24AM) (new)

I thought I'd comment on the opening exposition. It's really old-fashioned style to start right off with the exposition as a lecture delivered by some expert (the classic pipe-smoking scientist from black-and-white B movies; Not that Huxley had seen a B movie in 1931; they barely had talkies. Which I suppose makes the "feelies" and even more clever idea for his time.) Anyway, the DHC & Controller Mustapha Mond deliver our orientation lecture on the artificial birthing techniques of Huxley's future.

The description is more "scientific" than I had remembered. This seemed to have been the style for sci-fi in the day, to wax at length on the extrapolated science being invoked.

It also introduces Lenina Crowne and Bernard Marx.

I was really struck by the tail end of that initial exposition, interleaving the lecture of Mustapha Mond with conversations by Lenina (with Fanny) & Bernard (listening to Henry Foster.) I like the way the excerpts get shorter and shorter, interleaved more quickly, eventually dropping even the attributions for single sentences, adding a sense of acceleration to the whole thing. I'd call it almost cinematic, but there was no such thing back in 1931.

Bizarre aside: At one point the Director of Hatcheries and Conditioning mentions the embryo production line moves at "thirty three and a third centimeters per hour". For some reason this reminded me of 33 1/3 RPM records, aka "LP". I actually checked; the LP was first developed in 1947. Strange they hit on the same fractional number. (For those of you wondering what a record is, aka an Edison disc, it involves sound reproduction through scratches on plastic.)

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Mary Catelli | 746 comments It was definitely the style. Even in pulp SF, John W. Campbell Jr. was just moving the writers away from it.

message 21: by Powder River Rose (last edited Mar 05, 2016 08:33AM) (new)

Powder River Rose (powderriverrose) G33z3r wrote: "Powder River Rose wrote: "How far along is everyone?"

Well, I'm still working on it. I'd forgotten how hard it was to read physical books. They don't hold themselves open on the treadmill console,..."

I downloaded my audiobook copy from our public library (Overdrive app) and Micheal York narrates. The release date is Jan 1 2008 so it's no wonder his Mustapha Mond sounds a lot like Leonard Nimoy. I will be watching that 1998 version of the movie soon but the original version is available on YouTube.

I thought there were many strange ideas/developments in the book both scientific and otherwise. I found this on the old phonographs, gramophones and etc.
Hehehe I know what records parents had records and I have an old phonograph (1890s).

I didn't completely understand (well, possibly not completely even now) the feelies until the end of the book, I won't spoil it). Here's a great link on the history of cinematography

Thank you G33z3r I really appreciate your insights.

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E.D. Lynnellen (EDLynnellen) | 126 comments Started laughing when G33z3r stated how 84,AF, BNW were standard requirements in public schools. I remember...

Postman hit the nail. I wonder how many of our generations saw these works as a warning, and how many saw them as a "playbook" for how to take control? :}

Powder River Rose (powderriverrose) Hehehe ;-)

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So, Huxley wrote Brave New World 85 years ago, during the heart of the industrial revolution. Factory assembly lines were the big thing, Ford is his God.

If we were to update his future from today, we would expect a lot more robots to be taking over the jobs Brave New World assigns to Epsilons and Gammas, from assembly-line workers to elevator operators, so the embryo production line would presumably be adjusted accordingly.

The Industrial Revolution is passé, and we have entered the so-called information age. Instead of Ford, who would we put at the pinnacle of our pantheon? Gates? Zuckerberg? Bezzos? Brin? Or maybe from bioengineering, e.g. Ishino, Doudna, Charpentier?
"Obstacle Golf is a waste of time!"
"What else is time for?"
We certainly have a lot more options for wasting time that weren't available in Huxley's day. Video games can replace Obstacle Golf, we can keep the feelies and add television in all its myriad sources and styles (especially cat videos. :)

Do we standardize on one soma, or retain our modern pharmaceutical cornucopia?

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Mary Catelli | 746 comments Huxley had them deliberately limit technology to avoid putting Epsilons and Gammas out of work.

I notice that they defended them as necessary and, disjointly, refused to put them out of work. Obviously the sane thing to do is phase the innovations in slowly.

message 26: by Mary (last edited Mar 07, 2016 06:58AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Mary Catelli | 746 comments You notice that the Hatchery still has men's and women's changing rooms.

Might have a world in which that was done to prevent desensitization to the opposite sex, but seems implausible here, where the children are raised in masses without reference to the Westermarck effect (which is better defined now that it was in Huxley's day).

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Mary Catelli | 746 comments sigh

I'm afraid that I just can't finish my re-read. I think it's the lack of sympathetic characters to follow.

message 28: by [deleted user] (last edited Mar 10, 2016 08:10AM) (new)

Mary wrote: "Huxley had them deliberately limit technology to avoid putting Epsilons and Gammas out of work...."

I think he just extended the manufacturing technology of the time he wrote; I think he might've added a good deal more automation and reduce the number of Epsilons and Gammas if he were writing today.

It's interesting that Mustafa Mond and DHC talk about the need to promote consumption ("ending is better than mending") while these days most near-future sci-fi seems to concentrate on posterity amid scarcity.

Certainly if your national motto includes "stability", you're not going to want much change. In a way, I'm surprised there's any scientific research going on at all.

Mary wrote: "You notice that the Hatchery still has men's and women's changing rooms...."

Again, I think it's just Huxley following the mores of his day. Brave New World has a good deal of "free love", an intellectual advocacy apparently popular with English authors of the period, but I don't think that extended to unisex locker rooms :)

Besides, the separation allows girls to talk girly things, like surrogate pregnancy and the relative merits of Henry and Bernard, while guys can talk about guys things, like obstacle golf and how pneumatic Lenina is. :)

I think I'll go have my evening soma now...

message 29: by E.D. (last edited Mar 08, 2016 10:30AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

E.D. Lynnellen (EDLynnellen) | 126 comments I often refer to our current state as Feudalism With 200 Channels. Only thing is, there is no Island.

Crappy resolution...., but no Island. :}

message 30: by Powder River Rose (last edited Mar 08, 2016 09:07PM) (new)

Powder River Rose (powderriverrose) Laugh if you must (my imagination went wild over the definition while I was reading).... Here's what I found.

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So... "Centrifugal Bumble-puppy" — apparently a pastime right up there with Electromagnetic Golf. Is there some old British sport this is a takeoff on? Because every time I read that, I have this mental image animal-rights activists would surely detest of people swinging small dogs around by their tails, like a hammer throw.

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So, let's get to the ending. The Savage returns to Civilization, finds it not to his taste.

Seriously, this guy has some major sexual hangups.

The Savage debates the social order with Mustafa Mond, who draws back the curtain and reveals the motives behind the social engineering.

The Savage argues in favor of flies and mosquitoes and old-age, critiquing Civilization's removal of such annoyances. He argues in favor of perseverance. If you can't understand Shakespeare in a world with no tragedies, then the world should have tragedy! (I find this argument unconvincing.)

The Savage demands freedom. Mustafa Mond offers a choice: you can have freedom, but the price is disease and starvation. This seems a rather rough dichotomy. Surely we can still cure disease and provide food without eugenics and conditioning? In Brave New World Revisited, Huxley explicitly describes his concern with overpopulation. He doesn't offer a very good solution to this quandary; Huxley wants freedom and control at the same time.

The final image of the Savage living the life of a hermit and engaging in self-flagellation is not exactly the most convincing argument in favor of "freedom".

Brendan (mistershine) | 743 comments Dictionary says that bumble-puppy is what we call tetherball, so that's disappointingly mundane.

Huxley was concerned that the two choices were too stark, I remember he wrote that in a new foreword to a more recent edition.

message 34: by [deleted user] (last edited Mar 10, 2016 08:11AM) (new)

Brendan wrote: "Dictionary says that bumble-puppy is what we call tetherball, so that's disappointingly mundane..."

Yes, disappointing. It does explain the "centrifugal" part, though. Still, I like my visual better :)

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E.D. Lynnellen (EDLynnellen) | 126 comments Which definition of Freedom should we use? Herbert Hoover's or FDR's? MLK's or Ayn Rand's?

Brendan (mistershine) | 743 comments "Huxley wants freedom and control at the same time." Isn't that just any non-totalitarian system of government? Doesn't seem like a big ask.

message 37: by Mary (new) - rated it 4 stars

Mary Catelli | 746 comments G33z3r wrote: "Mustafa Mond offers a choice: you can have freedom, but the price is disease and starvation. This seems a rather rough dichotomy."

When you are running a civilization and convincing yourself that the sacrifices are worthwhile, probably you overstate the importance of it.

Though it's certain there would be unpleasant trade-offs.

Claudia Casser | 63 comments Reminded me of the BNW society's design.

Columbia Business School. "Can too much talent harm your team's performance?." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 23 March 2016. .

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