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Brave New World
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CLASSICS READS > Brave New World - *SPOILERS*

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message 1: by Joanna Loves Reading (last edited Mar 31, 2019 08:50PM) (new)

Joanna Loves Reading (joannalovesreading) | 1117 comments Mod
This discussion is for the April 2019 Classics group read of Brave New World by Aldous Huxley.

*SPOILERS THREAD* This discussion will be full of spoilers.

This is the post-read or during-read discussion. Spoilers are allowed, but please use spoiler tags as needed.

If you haven't read the book already and don't want to spoil the ending, hop on over to the Spoiler-Free Discussion.

What did you think of the read? Would you read again or recommend? What surprised you the most or was it what you expected?


message 2: by Honore (new) - added it

Honore | 166 comments " I couldn't resist starting this one early and I'm having trouble putting it down.I recommend having Merriam-webster open on your phone to look up some of the science words early on, they get reused quite a bit and it will provide some clarity!


Betsy | 820 comments Mod
Great tip, thank you!


aPriL does feral sometimes  (cheshirescratch) | 545 comments I enjoyed the read. I know I was supposed to be all upset at the genetic determination of the bottle babies, but to tell the truth, I thought if I was given a choice of being with the ‘primitives’ or being with the engineered folk, I would be happiest with the engineered folk.


Laura (goatgrl48) | 6 comments Just finished the book, and I liked it. It was fascinating and scary at the same time. I found it strange that people in the community were so much more comfortable essentially sacrificing human connections, relationships, and items that could cause them to feel anything but happiness. They thrived on instant gratification, and disconnecting from experiences/discomfort/feelings with their soma. John's character was the most tragic to me as he longed to be part of something/somewhere, but was never able to find a place where he could truly live out his life happily.


Cheryl (cherylllr) | 976 comments Welp, there's a lot of great ideas here. And some clever writing, in bits. But it seems more of a polemic than a story, and I think maybe the reason it's a classic is mainly because so many ideas do ring true. Still, I wasn't satisfied, and wish it were more thought out, with more developed characters and plot.

After I read the story itself I read the supplementary info. in 'The Everyman's Library' edition. And the intro. there clarifies my thinking a lot. For example, it mentions "Huxley's jackdaw mind.' Ayup. Lots of stuff to think about, stuff which doesn't actually necessarily go together but is shiny and gaudy. And in case the reader has been avoiding thinking and is only reading for the adventure, there's the big discussion between Savage and MM near the end... a bad case of telling rather than showing. Another flaw, imo, is the claim that everyone is happy, while at the same time everyone is taking soma regularly... the Epsilons are conditioned to love being Epsilons, MM says that they are happy, yet they get a daily ration of, what, 4 grammes of soma!

The intro. (by John Sutherland) also reveals that Huxley wrote this in just one year. Of course, he may have been stewing over it for longer, but still, that explains why I feel less craftsmanship and care. And most of the science and satire here are quite contemporary, as revealed by the included timeline. Of note in the timeline is the fact that in the year that this was published, 3 million people in Britain were unemployed. (And by people they probably mean men, so it would be 3M families without a breadwinner. That's out of a population of 46.3M.)

This edition also includes Huxley's intro. to the 1946 edition in which he scolds himself for not mentioning nuclear fission, which he admits he did know about and discuss w/ others. Then he consoles himself by stating, "The theme... is not the advancement of science as such; it is the advancement of science as it affects human individuals."

Also of note in Huxley's intro. is something Literary about lunacy vs. insanity and whether sanity is possible and was anybody in the book truly sane or insane. I didn't fully understand all that.

Chrome Yellow is the only other (adult) work by Huxley that I (tried to) read. At first it seems very different, but it turns out that the theme of poking fun at the consequences of the British class system, even as their Empire was fading, is in many ways similar to this one.

Btw, the racist and sexist attitudes in this are to be read purely in context. I do believe that Huxley thought that he was showing respect to women, 'negroes,' and most especially American Indians, compared to attitudes of other people in his milieu in his time. It's complicated.

So, what predictions came true? Hypnopedia probably wouldn't work. Conditioning of some sort could, but I believe the maternal drive (among mothers) to be too strong for creches (though 'decanting bottles' of some kind do have some appeal). Video games are a fairly effective 'soma'... and when we look around and see the effects of what's been called an 'opioid crisis' we know that a soma is desired.

Poor Lenina. Poor Bernard.


Betsy | 820 comments Mod
Cheryl wrote: "But it seems more of a polemic than a story, and I think maybe the reason it's a classic is mainly because so many ideas do ring true. Still, I wasn't satisfied, and wish it were more thought out, with more developed characters and plot."

Interesting point, Cheryl.
In many ways this book feels like ideas upon ideas being explained in a forced way, and not a story being told with ideas coming through naturally. Like seen in the dialogue between MM and John the Savage.

One of the things that stood out to me was the idea that the superficial look of something was more important than the truth of it:
"Can't you see [the use of dividing eggs]?"
the focus being on the image, the uniform look of the population.

"If we could bokanovskify indefinitely the whole problem would be solved."
Because, of course, there would no longer be the individual, only the mass produced entity.

I liked the first 20 pages most; the short, snappy sentences, juxtaposing the different dialogues and characters. This really hit me.

There were some parts that also gave me chills in reference to what's happening nowadays, in terms of how we relate to each other:
"Everyone belongs to everyone else" is a very scary quote.
The theme of individuality versus group was constant throughout the story, and it will be a forever relevant topic.

On another note, this was written before the invention of the Pill, and the vision of contraceptive 'belts' has become true. I don't think that motherhood is felt to be disgusting as in the book, but women are being encouraged today more than ever to have a career rather than a family (or at least, they are put in a position to 'choose' between them).

Laura wrote: "John's character was the most tragic to me as he longed to be part of something/somewhere, but was never able to find a place where he could truly live out his life happily. "

I felt this too, Laura. It was very hard for me to read his tragic end.


message 8: by Marianne (new)

Marianne | 7 comments I enjoyed this book. It was nice to see how Huxley weaves this future world already in the 30s and recognize mechanisms from our days. Fortunately, our world is not the one that Huxley created. But there are some tendencies there....


message 9: by Jay (last edited Apr 15, 2019 04:26AM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

Jay | 18 comments I listened to the audiobook and overall I did enjoy the book. Mostly I enjoyed it for the outlandish and fanciful nature of the world Huxley invented and how they treat "normal" humans. The writing was also very clever at times and I enjoyed how it flowed.

Unfortunately, if there was some sort of moral to the story or lesson, I'm not sure I understood it. The characters sometimes seemed to have exaggerated personalities and reactions. Honestly, I felt like the ending was contrived in order to explain how humanity got the point where it was - I didn't feel like there was much resolution to it either.

Did anyone get something else out of the ending?


Cheryl (cherylllr) | 976 comments In the "Everyman's Library" edition that I read, Huxley explains that the ending is the point. A man who 'natural' as opposed to being decanted and conditioned cannot remain sane in this world, just as, presumably, Miranda won't remain sane once she's no longer on the island.

(In case anyone missed it, the title, with Savage repeats several times, is from The Tempest.)

And the characters are not like us. How could they be, given how they were bred, born, and raised? This is not our world, but a brave and new one.

The point is 'ware science. Be leery of promises made by scientists who say people can be fixed with eugenics, that hypnopedia and conditioning will make people content with their lot in life, that a miracle drug will make people happy, that clones (instead of individuals) will be easier to manage.


Betsy | 820 comments Mod
Cheryl wrote: "A man who is 'natural' as opposed to being decanted and conditioned cannot remain sane in this world."

Interesting insight. The ending was clearly pushing this idea strongly.
But I wonder, even though you're right (the book's world is not ours) I think that it also speaks of all conditioning (alluded to in the dialogue between MM and the Savage aka conditioned to believe in God).

In this way I think another point or meaning of the ending is to question your own conditioning.


Rebecca (tksharkbait) Marianne wrote: "I enjoyed this book. It was nice to see how Huxley weaves this future world already in the 30s and recognize mechanisms from our days. Fortunately, our world is not the one that Huxley created. But..."

Personally I think it's a lot of cautionary tales (against extreme consumerism, rejection and destruction of the standard of the family unit, and overuse of vices), and the high price paid for removing perceived unhappiness and instability from a society. (John, representing the old values so to speak, claims "the right to be unhappy.”).

While pointing out the cost of such a society, there are also truths for any society which are reflected in the modern society portrayed:
“We believe in happiness and stability. A society of Alphas couldn’t fail to be unstable and miserable. Imagine a factory staffed by Alphas—that is to say by separate and unrelated individuals of good heredity and conditioned so as to be capable (within limits) of making a free choice and assuming responsibilities. Imagine it!”


message 13: by aPriL does feral sometimes (last edited Apr 17, 2019 12:44PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

aPriL does feral sometimes  (cheshirescratch) | 545 comments I do not feel the Brave New World is unthinkable or undesirable.

I wish natural normal Humanity was capable of stability, focus and peace, and forward planning, but so far the historical evidence is in and it proves the contrary.

Humanity loves war. Humanity is careless, tribal, murderous and unable to pull together the the common Good. We are kind and loving inside of many family units, but we are suspicious and destructive towards those who are 'other' - other skin colors, other religions, other languages, other social customs, other economic classes, other sexualities - all of whom are harmless, actually. We stand aside and allow genocide to take place in other places. We are defecating (China, India, basically almost every country on Earth) into all of Earth's waters which we need to survive. There are always ten-fifteen dead spots, which are devoid of all life, in the oceans of the world, that we know of. The bellies of animals are full of indigestible plastic. We have killed off an estimated 80% of the flora and fauna life wherever we have established Dominion. The latest creatures to be noticed as disappearing are insects, including bees and butterflies.

Men are notoriously oblivious to the survival of their families. Not all, certainly. But many men gamble, and drink up their paychecks, more than women do, although certainly women do so, too. Men generally buy more video games, spend their earnings on tech toys than on educating their children. If we have spare money, we do not save it, but go to restaurants, movies, exotic vacations - and then complain about needing to save for the kids' college educations, if we save at all.

We tell ourselves these 'other' people living only for the moment's sensation or selfishly and narcissistically, making accidental babies because they had to have sex rather than masturbate, or spend money on weekend delights rather than save, or the ones who are sadists and psychopaths, are aberrations and not the norm - but taking in societies all over the world, I'd say we who like to look on the positive side are losing ground. After all, for example, just two terrible parents can make six-eight screwed-up addicted uneducated children who grow up into unprepared-for-life or for being a contributing tax-paying member of society (failing to enter the middle-class, right?) or barely functioning mentally-ill adults. One person with a AR-15 can wipeout forty people in a bar, for example. It is being said in the scientific community we are already in another extinction period, like the one that killed off all of the dinosaurs. Love will conquer all? No, not.

The savages ostracized people who they did not like, and murdered people. They were the 'natural' people. They were better than the country of controlled bottle babies? Really?


Cheryl (cherylllr) | 976 comments Betsy wrote: " I think another point or meaning of the ending is to question your own conditioning. ..."

Oh, yes, thank you for reminding us of that!


Cheryl (cherylllr) | 976 comments April, you make some good points. "Better" is unmeasurable though. Better compared to what? Most people, it seems, value Freedom above all. The characters in this novel were basically slaves. The vast majority of them worked mundane jobs and took soma while not at work. They couldn't read, they had to get permits to travel, etc. Is that Life, or is it Existence?

Also, when it was written Christianity was very influential, especially messages against hubris and 'playing God.'

Also, it was written when Hitler was starting to come into power and a lot of what he wanted is very similar to what has been implemented in the book... think of eugenics, think of a Master Race, think of eliminating misfits.

I totally agree that humanity currently is a mess. But Huxley's tale is, imo, a cautionary one against trying to fix it with the methods presented.


message 16: by Jay (new) - rated it 3 stars

Jay | 18 comments Betsy wrote: "In this way I think another point or meaning of the ending is to question your own conditioning."

I'm with Cheryl on this one. It seems obvious now that you mention it that one would apply the story to ourselves a little.


Rebecca wrote: "Personally I think it's a lot of cautionary tales..."

Reflecting on the ending with more of the "cautionary tales" interpretation you mentioned, I do think it makes a lot more sense than I was initially making of it. I also liked the line you mentioned about "the right to unhappiness".


Betsy | 820 comments Mod
I agree with you, Jay, about liking Rebecca's line "the right to unhappiness". It's very succinct.

Cheryl wrote: ""Better" is unmeasurable though. Better compared to what?"

Incredible comment, so true.

Really enjoying reading everyone's comments on these difficult themes.


message 18: by Shelley (last edited Apr 20, 2019 01:01PM) (new) - rated it 1 star

Shelley | 41 comments I may be in the minority here, but that's okay. Simply put, I did not like this book at all. I generally read for three purposes, none of which this book fulfilled. Those purposes are enjoyment (not at all), learning (nope), and inspiration (not in the least).

However, this book is a good example of why we should read books that do not interest us. It is a great book for discussion. The issues are complicated, and probably overlooked or at least under discussed by people in general.

The one specific comment I will make is that it struck me as extremely un-American. (I had to remind myself that Huxley was from England.) At the same time, the American culture seems to be adapting the attitudes and norms that would make this world seem desirable, which is scary to say the least. Yes, the real world is quite messed up. But, I don't believe the people in this book were happy. They were just conditioned to believe that complacency, ease, and leisure were equivalent to happiness. There was no love, no truth, no beauty. None of what is good in our world. Overall, I found the book to be depressing and devoid of hope.


Cheryl (cherylllr) | 976 comments Shelley, I believe that you got out of it exactly what the author intended!


message 20: by Jon (new) - rated it 3 stars

Jon (bevior) | 3 comments I read this book and I liked it. It was an easy read and I found that author's take on the future quite interesting. Not exactly a dystopian future, but not exactly paradise. I honestly had a hard time lining this book with current or even past society. It seems to warn against the adage "The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few" It also seems to warn that even paradise has its price to pay. And finally warn against true communism where everything and everyone belongs to everyone.

I can see some people really agreeing and relating to this future, assuming they would be Alpha's or Beta's? What if you were predetermined to be Epsilons or Gammas? Would you so readily agree to this kind of future? I liked the ending where it was revealed that even Science was put in check. Until that point I had assumed that all other parts of life (Art, Music, and the like) were abandoned for a life of logic an science but that is not the case. Even science can be dangerous if left unchecked.

It would be interesting to see the view of other parts of society..Surely not all Alpha's and Beta's solely work to keep the species going. Surely there are other jobs other than working in the "Human Being" plant. I still don't understand why in a society where Shakespeare is kept under lock and key and anyone who even remotely something exhibits behavior contrary to society is shipped off to an "island",they would allow a random and potentially chaotic element such as John to run around loose in their society. It's horror for someone not to sleep with multiple partners but they take this savage in? That seems to be a weak part of the book, the reason why John was allowed to run unchecked in a society where everything is so controlled. All in all this was a good read, but the holes in the character development and the factor that you really couldn't gain by reading the book what the author's message really was kind of took away from the experience.However, I am really glad I read this book. It gave me loads to think about, and to reevaluate my opinions of Nirvana and what utopia really should look like. Maybe that was the point..


Cheryl (cherylllr) | 976 comments Good point about not having a chaperone for John Savage. It could have been a miss by Huxley, for sure. But perhaps the author was indicating that the decision-makers in the society were complacent? Or that it didn't occur to them that this was a brand-new event and they'd have to think new thoughts about how to manage it?


message 22: by Cheryl (last edited Apr 22, 2019 04:35AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Cheryl (cherylllr) | 976 comments Yeah, what would Utopia really look like? That's one of the mains themes of The Giver too. (and of lots of SF, of course, including Fahrenheit 451)


Betsy | 820 comments Mod
I feel like that's the danger, believing in a utopia. In fact, if I remember correctly, the etymology of the word gives deep insight: based on Greek ou ‘not’ + topos ‘place’, it's a place that cannot exist.


Betsy | 820 comments Mod
"Even science can be dangerous when left unchecked." I didn't see that connection presented in the book before, Jon, thank you.

I also agree with you and Cheryl that it may have been a mistake of Huxley's to leave the Savage to roam free when all other parts of society are so routinely controlled.


Betsy | 820 comments Mod
Although, as Cheryl points out, this may have been purposeful, to show that they can't handle or deal with new and unplanned for situations.


Scu8a8uddy | 10 comments Shelley wrote: "I may be in the minority here, but that's okay. Simply put, I did not like this book at all. I generally read for three purposes, none of which this book fulfilled. Those purposes are enjoyment (no..."

Hi Shelley. I’m interested in what you mean by ‘un-American’. I’m from the UK and feel that it almost exactly predicts modern society’s obsession with consumerism and the have and have nots. The whole system is built on Henry Fords ideas on production. He seems like a god to them. I was of the opinion that this novel is VERY American. It’s fascinating how we perceive each other isn’t it? 😃


Rebecca (tksharkbait) aPriL does feral sometimes wrote: "The savages ostracized people who they did not like, and murdered people. They were the 'natural' people. They were better than the country of controlled bottle babies? Really?"

And the decanted society killed people of a certain age, promoted heavy use of a drug that was known to kill over time and in large doses, created entire groups of classes of people who were purposefully stunted and treated much as slaves, (though admittedly they were paid for their work), and banished those who didn't conform and were free-thinkers. Among other things.

It's not really about who was "better" or who was "right," but showing the stark contrasts between the two. I think pointing out that there is no actual "perfect" society, as it does not and cannot exist, because what is perfect for one is the opposite for another.


message 28: by Shelley (last edited Apr 22, 2019 08:36PM) (new) - rated it 1 star

Shelley | 41 comments Scu8a8uddy wrote: "Shelley wrote: "I may be in the minority here, but that's okay. Simply put, I did not like this book at all. I generally read for three purposes, none of which this book fulfilled. Those purposes a..."

That is a fair question. As you are from the UK, I can see how you might think the book was very American, although I'd never thought of it from a non-American viewpoint. Makes me wonder if Huxley wasn't criticizing Americans . . . although, I think he later moved to America, so maybe it was more of a fascination. I have no idea.

The whole Ford thing irritated me. Specifically, that they claimed to eliminate the need for religion, but in all reality they worshiped Ford. I assume that was an intentional contradiction. That said, I do have to admit that Fordifying (yes, I just made that up) the world was an interesting premise for a book.

The big thing that felt so very un-American to me was the use of identity. As an American, I have always associated identity with individuality. Although I have a shared identity with many groups of people (I am a Nebraskan, a mother, a librarian, etc.), each of those roles is just a piece of who I am. Americans are very big on our individuality and the rights of individuals. Honestly, we can go too far with it. The topic can make for interesting, and quite heated, debate.

In the book, identity seemed to refer almost solely to the class to which a person belonged ( e.g. Alpha, Beta, etc.), which determined what they did and what they thought. Everyone wore the same color of clothes. Except Lenina, I think, which was odd to me. There was no self-expression, no self-consciousness, no self anything. (This isn't entirely bad.) They mass produced people and programmed them to all think the same way that everyone in their social class was to think. While we certainly have social classes in America, we do like to think that they are more fluid than in other countries and that people can rise above the class that they were born into. (This may or may not be true.)

Sadly, issues such as consumerism, self-centeredness, and other issues are undermining our society. I cannot deny that.


message 29: by Scu8a8uddy (last edited Apr 23, 2019 06:37AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Scu8a8uddy | 10 comments Rebecca wrote: "aPriL does feral sometimes wrote: "The savages ostracized people who they did not like, and murdered people. They were the 'natural' people. They were better than the country of controlled bottle b..."

Hi Shelly. Thanks for the reply. Not for a moment did I look at this from a viewpoint of ‘the individual ‘. I totally understand what you mean. However I feel it’s frightening (despite what we believe that we’re all individuals) that governments have ‘think tanks’ that look at the long term regarding how many’s schools will be needed, how many universities, houses etc. Which then leads to ‘how many people do we want to have a degree? Who will empty our rubbish? Who will serve our coffee? It may sound paranoid but social engineering exists today to some degree.


DOH! I replied to the wrong message....sorry!


Shelley | 41 comments Scu8a8uddy wrote: "Rebecca wrote: "aPriL does feral sometimes wrote: "The savages ostracized people who they did not like, and murdered people. They were the 'natural' people. They were better than the country of con..."

You're right. Some of these things are good, or at least their initial intention is good. But, some of the problems we have today are the result of social engineering in the past. It's such a complicated issue. One I've sadly ignored most of my life. Thankfully, I'm starting to become more aware of these issues, but it is quite overwhelming.


aPriL does feral sometimes  (cheshirescratch) | 545 comments Social engineering is a real thing. Look at whatever ads flood all media for any event, i.e., Superbowl, new movie, holiday savings....

The fashion color of the season is decided by a committee there or four years in advance. One year all of the dresses are huge flowers with black and vivid primary colors, next year everything is pastel.

And that is just the social engineering of businesses.


Laura H (laurah30) | 517 comments Finally finished this book - it was ok - I didn’t love it. But, I have enjoyed reading the lively discussion and the insight of this group. I agree with an earlier comment that the posts made it more interesting for me!


message 33: by Kim (new)

Kim WV | 96 comments I hope the readers here will humor me and help me figure out a plot point that I missed. I'm listening to the audio version and have only just started it. And i'm only into chapter 3. But what I missed was: humans are engineered and males are bred as sterile? Is this correct? And then children are encouraged to play "erotic games"? So are these humans procreating the old fashioned way or are they being created in test tubes? Or both? Or do I just need to keep listening and I'll figure it out later? I initially thought I understood that humans were being discouraged from sexual intimacy but then in childhood they are encouraged (??) Help? Thanks!


Rebecca (tksharkbait) Kim wrote: "I hope the readers here will humor me and help me figure out a plot point that I missed. I'm listening to the audio version and have only just started it. And i'm only into chapter 3. But what I mi..."

The week's supply of ova. Kept," he explained, "at blood heat; whereas the male gametes," and here he opened another door, "they have to be kept at thirty-five instead of thirty-seven. Full blood heat sterilizes."

They keep them below sterilization heat levels, so no, the males aren't sterilized. I always found this interesting since the society is not a viviparous society as they refer to it. Also, there's reference to Lenina's contraceptive belt being "bulging" as she was not a freemartin. There's also a character I believe you haven't met you who mentions it being easy to go to the local abortion centre (not giving anything away there), therefore men can't be sterile, and apparently most women aren't, either. The only humans who procreate the "normal" way are those on the reservation- those in society are entirely test tubes and decanted.

The students we meet in the first few pages are shocked to hear that sexual activity used to be discouraged and forbidden in young children and even adolescents like themselves- it is in fact encouraged (as the children's play time shows), and this continues into adulthood. Everybody belongs to everybody else, everyone is encouraged to be with multiple people and not to stick with any one partner for too long, and then there's the mandatory orgy parties on a schedule (I forget how often or if that's mentioned).


Laura (goatgrl48) | 6 comments Kim wrote: "I hope the readers here will humor me and help me figure out a plot point that I missed. I'm listening to the audio version and have only just started it. And i'm only into chapter 3. But what I mi..."

I guess the way that I interpreted it was that everyone was encouraged and welcomed to be sexually active and with multiple people from an early age. They even had a common "saying/mantra" that "everyone belongs to everyone else." It seemed like the feelings and emotions that are associated with and naturally spring from sexual intimacy or relationships (even parental ones, like John and his mother) were highly discouraged in this society.


message 36: by Kim (new)

Kim WV | 96 comments Rebecca wrote: "Kim wrote: "I hope the readers here will humor me and help me figure out a plot point that I missed. I'm listening to the audio version and have only just started it. And i'm only into chapter 3. B..."

Thank you for elaborating.
So then why are people so encouraged to be sexually active if they are only "conceived" in test tubes and decanted? Females no longer give birth so why the promiscuity? And they're discouraged from having any feelings toward others they're intimate with so it can't have anything to do with pleasure.
Sorry - still confused.


message 37: by aPriL does feral sometimes (last edited Apr 25, 2019 10:51AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

aPriL does feral sometimes  (cheshirescratch) | 545 comments A lot of people are indiscriminately sexually active, Kim, in real life, too, not in just this novel. Many people like ‘nameless f*cks’, excuse my language. There are apps to meet with people for a twenty-minute hookup, using each other’s names or knowing each other at all not required. The old fashioned way in the 1970’s was meeting strangers in bars.


message 38: by Kim (new)

Kim WV | 96 comments aPriL does feral sometimes wrote: "A lot of people are indiscriminately sexually active, Kim, in real life, too, not in just this novel. Many people like ‘nameless f*cks’, excuse my language. There are apps to meet with people for a..."

Ummm. Yeah, thanks. I'm well aware of the sexual norms of modern society! And yes, I have even heard of apps, and hooking up and even the 1970's. How is your response relevant to my questions? I specifically asked my apparently naive inquiries in relation to this 100 year old SF book, not our modern society. It seems like they annoyed or put you off. You didn't need to respond if that's the case.


Trisha | 430 comments Shelley wrote: "I may be in the minority here, but that's okay. Simply put, I did not like this book at all. I generally read for three purposes, none of which this book fulfilled. Those purposes are enjoyment (no..."

Shelley, you summed this up perfectly! The author had a very clever idea, but that’s the only positive thing I can say. Unlike the majority here, I really disliked the book & its characters. If it had been longer I would not have finished reading it. My only slight criticism of your comments is that I don’t understand why you seemed surprised at finding it “un-American”. You said Huxley was English, & the place names given were in England, so I don’t see why anyone would expect it to seem American. Sorry, perhaps I missed the point.


message 40: by Shelley (last edited Apr 25, 2019 06:32PM) (new) - rated it 1 star

Shelley | 41 comments Trisha wrote: "Shelley wrote: "I may be in the minority here, but that's okay. Simply put, I did not like this book at all. I generally read for three purposes, none of which this book fulfilled. Those purposes a..."

I probably didn't express this thought very well. I tend make my comments like I would in my library's book club (which meets in person) or like I would have in high school. Both of which are/were small settings with people from the same place, with common experiences, if not opinions. This is a very large group with members from all over the world, and I need remember that when commenting.

The "un-American" thought hit me early in the book, and I just never shook it, even after doing some minimal research on the author. In addition, I probably also got hung up on all the Ford references and the savage reservation, which was located in the US.

By "un-American" I simply meant not American. Even though the book is clearly set primarily in England, it never felt foreign to me. Bizarre, yes, but not foreign. So, I struggled to really see it as a foreign (from my perspective) book.

The fact that I studied English literature in high school (as opposed to American literature) probably doesn't help. Books by English authors don't seem that much different to me from a cultural perspective than those by authors from Texas, New York, or California. So, I may not distinguish very well in my head that they really are from a different country with different laws, customs, etc. This probably is not the case for a great many Americans, so please don't think my experience is the norm here.


Rebecca (tksharkbait) Kim wrote: "Rebecca wrote: "Kim wrote: "I hope the readers here will humor me and help me figure out a plot point that I missed. I'm listening to the audio version and have only just started it. And i'm only i..."

I think the sleep-taught wisdom of "Everybody belongs to everybody else" sums it up pretty well. It's also part of the unlimited vices they're allowed and encouraged to pursue- they're encouraged to consume, to sleep around freely, to be social and never alone, and to regularly take mind-altering drugs.

I disagree that being discouraged having attachments/feelings towards others they're intimate with meaning it has nothing to do with pleasure- it has everything do to with pleasure. It's sex purely for pleasure.

They're discouraged from having long-term attachments and getting to attached to any one person, but not from having any sort of attachment at all. It's part of them being part of the community, which is highly praised because it is a group activity, not a solo one.

Also I forgot they don't sterilize people (or not everyone) because they still need people in order to create new ones in test tubes- they haven't advanced to totally creating humans yet. (I think there's a line in there about donors getting a month or a year's salary or something).

Does that help clear things up?


message 42: by Shelley (last edited Apr 25, 2019 06:44PM) (new) - rated it 1 star

Shelley | 41 comments Kim wrote: "Rebecca wrote: "Kim wrote: "I hope the readers here will humor me and help me figure out a plot point that I missed. I'm listening to the audio version and have only just started it. And i'm only i..."

I assume that the premise was that sex is such a basic need that it cannot be eliminated through social conditioning. So, the powers that be decided that they would use it to manipulate society. If everyone belongs to everyone and everyone is physically satisfied regularly, then people will think they are happy. There is no competition for attention, no territorial/ownership/partnership/relationship problems, etc. Plus, if they teach this to small children, probably before the age that they would normally start to show an interest in the opposite sex, they further undermine the natural course of things, so to speak.

I didn't understand why men weren't sterilized as well or why only half(?) of the women were. Why wouldn't they sterilize 90% of all people and pursue some sort of genetic purity for the different groups of people they produced in their factories? Of course, I'm looking at it from today's perspective. Huxley may not have envisioned the ability to freeze sperm (assuming the technology wasn't available then). They would have needed fertile men for that, but certainly not all men.


Trisha | 430 comments Shelley wrote: "Trisha wrote: "Shelley wrote: "I may be in the minority here, but that's okay. Simply put, I did not like this book at all. I generally read for three purposes, none of which this book fulfilled. T..."

That’s interesting, Shelley - thank you for explaining. I agree with you, it’s easy to misunderstand something when we all come from different backgrounds.


message 44: by Kim (new)

Kim WV | 96 comments Rebecca wrote: "Kim wrote: "Rebecca wrote: "Kim wrote: "I hope the readers here will humor me and help me figure out a plot point that I missed. I'm listening to the audio version and have only just started it. An..."

Yes it does! Thank you so much for your insightful response. This story is not as black and white as I had thought at first - very much in the gray.


message 45: by Kim (new)

Kim WV | 96 comments Shelley wrote: "Kim wrote: "Rebecca wrote: "Kim wrote: "I hope the readers here will humor me and help me figure out a plot point that I missed. I'm listening to the audio version and have only just started it. An..."

"If everyone belongs to everyone and everyone is physically satisfied regularly, then people will think they are happy. There is no competition for attention, no territorial/ownership/partnership/relationship problems, etc."

Yes! - your perspective on this, and this particular observation, was right on. The whole mask of happiness they wear is unsettling.


Scu8a8uddy | 10 comments So...I've finished reading this. How did I find it? Hmmmmm. I got fairly lost/bored during the second to last chapter where John the savage and Mustapha Mond were philosophising but generally enjoyed it. It wasn't as predictive as Orwel's 1984 but that was written nearly 20 years later. I didn't really connect with any of the characters and found their portrayal a little thin which makes any sort of connection hard. I took a few notes about conditioning, consumerism, Pavlov's dogs, Shakespeare etc but I don't feel any exposition i may make on these themes would add to what's already been written here by others. As my first read with a book club, I found it a great experience. ;-)


message 47: by Jay (new) - rated it 3 stars

Jay | 18 comments Scuba, glad you liked the first read with a club! Lots of future books that you may find more interesting. :)


message 48: by Betsy (last edited Apr 28, 2019 02:04PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Betsy | 820 comments Mod
I'm also glad you enjoyed your first read with a club, Scuba.

I was wondering what you all thought about the use of the word pneumatic to describe Lenina and the 4D type cinema feely chairs.
With women it felt used to describe their voluptuousness perhaps, and that they liked having sex with them, but I'm not sure.
And in regards to the entertainment?


message 49: by Jay (new) - rated it 3 stars

Jay | 18 comments Betsy wrote: "I was wondering what you all thought about the use of the word pneumatic to describe Lenina and the 4D type cinema feely chairs.
With..."


Wait, was it really only used in those types of situations? I just thought it was another broad positive-attributing slang term.


Betsy | 820 comments Mod
Jay, from what I remember, pneumatic was used in those two contexts. But I could be mistaken.


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