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Restored Thread 18th February 2011, 09:06 AM lunababymoonchild This book sets out an alternative society with babies not being born but created and then conditioned from birth and for their entire lives with adult behaviour being controlled via drugs. Even so, not everybody conforms to this and the book goes on to describe what happens. This book is set in the future but as it was written between the two world wars so at that time perhaps it was futuristic, but not so now, I felt. More an alternative man made society. I struggled with this book a little bit. I got to page 70 and decided to give it until page 100 before I abandoned it as I felt that up until then it was mundane and somewhat sterile in it's depictions of the society that was later to be called Brave New World. Fortunately, somewhere between page 70 and 100 it got a bit more interesting, from my point of view. Had the book been written later I would have felt that it was cliched in the introduction of a character that was neither of the controlled society or fully savage (the pre-existing 'alternative' society) but since the book was obviously written in the thirties it didn't come across a cliched at all. I enjoyed the remainder of the book and am glad that I stuck with it. The most profound of the author's statements come near the end, and during the thirties I'm sure that they were extremely profound if not ground breaking. They are certainly thought provoking today. Not the greatest book I've ever read but enjoyable enough and for long enough to keep me reading. Won't be seeking out other works by Aldous Huxley, though. #2 18th February 2011, 09:24 AM tagesmann I finished this yesterday. I had read the book before but that was at school and the impression it made then was fairly profound. This time I was a little disappointed. It wasn't a bad book and it wasn't badly written. Of course the science fiction is dated but that doesn't matter. I think that my main reason for not being so involved in the book was because I couldn't empathise with the characters although I did appreciate the cultural clashes and the total inability of the people to understand each other. I agree that the end of the book contained the most interesting aspects. Particularly the controller's sacrifice and the discussion about the right to be unhappy. I sometimes think that it is a shame that authors so rarely put their point of view forward through their characters in the way that was accepted in the 18th, 19th and early 20th century. I hated the ending but it was at least final. #3 18th February 2011, 10:29 AM Grammath Like most science fiction books, it is worth considering Brave New World in the context of the time it was written and published - 1932. I see it as satire as much as some form of future prediction. Mass production had fuelled the boom of the 1920s but had also had a dehumanizing effect - people became simple machines on a production line. The Great Crash of 1929 suggested that a world of wealth and mindless pleasure wasn't necessarily going to last forever. The Soviet Union had existed for a decade and a half; a society dedicated to shoehorning people into contributing to accepting its ideology unquestioningly. Mussolini was already in charge of Italy and Hitler's election was imminent. Huxley was from an academic background and I see Brave New World as a novel of ideas first and foremost, I agree as a story it is somewhat weaker than its closest equivalent in English Literature, Nineteen Eighty Four. Like tag, I first read Brave New World in my teens, at a time when sci-fi formed the backbone of my pleasure reading diet, as opposed to what I had to read for school. This, Nineteen Eighty Four and the works of Philip K. Dick showed me that the future was not necessarily going to be a rosy place so for me personally it was a very important book and appealing to the moody teenage Grammath. #4 21st February 2011, 11:43 AM Jenmcd Science fiction, along with fantasy, is a genre I avoid like the plague and I think Brave New World is my first foray into this area. I suppose I started out with low expectations so was pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed the novel. It is very much an ideas driven rather than character driven book so the weak point was my inability to connect with any of the characters. Aspects of the book seem very dated which at times make it hard to take the novel seriously - I am thinking particularly of the notion that we would all be obsessed with wearing artificial fibres and clothes with large numbers of zips in the future. Also I would have expected the fact that women were freed from pregnancy and mothering would have promoted equality to a much greater extent. I know the female characters were working but they didn't seem to make it to the very top in society and it seemed to be still basically a man's world. I have found myself thinking about the book quite a bit since I finished it and was particularly struck by the notion that the Brave New World sacrificed democracy for stability. The response of western governments and media to the current situation in various middle eastern countries seems to echo this - while they are very careful not to say anything which appears to deny the democratic rights of people in the region you can sense the underlying fear for the 'stability of the region' - a stability which suits the west. I have also found myself wondering whether it would be better to be bred and conditioned to be on the lower stratas of such a futuristic society or to be kept there by force. As someone who has been through pregnancy and childbirth three times it has also occurred to me that if you are conditioned against the whole notion it would seem a very bizarre and appalling thing to go through. Anyway I am slightly freaking myself out by how much I'm thinking about this! On the whole I'll settle for our imperfect democracy. #5 20th March 2011, 05:29 PM bobblington What interested me in this book was the way that like so many futuristic books there is the idea that rather than turning into extremely independant people, the human race always becomes conformist and is so easily controlled. Also the controlling faction are always breaking the rules themselves and in this instance deciding to stay and control rather than escaping to the islands. Basically this book had a world split into 3 groups, the controlled world, with programmed humans from birth into social strata. A group of 'savages' which appeared to be Mexican Nomads (now confined) and the islands where people who wanted space and the ability to be free and alone could have it. Which seemed like a sensible idea really. I find it wonderful how clear he was about 'test tube babies' and mind control, I know it was only the 1930's but it still seemed an impressive idea of the future. Very interesting to see how people think things will pan out. I always enjoy a futuristic tale - how accurate they can be on small things, and sometimes big things. #6 19th April 2011, 05:15 PM nonsuch I've taken a long time to finish this one, which indicates that it was hardly a pageturner. I have to agree with Tagesmann that the characters are so thinly realised that it's difficult to identify with them. Of course it's about ideas not people, but even so it's terribly dated. So what if many of the seemingly fantastic notions about cloning and conditioning are now part of our everyday life. Test tube babies, avoidance of romantic love, the pragmatic approach to death, the clean clinical world where alphas are governors and epsilons are pariahs to be shunted off to New Mexico - some of these things have happened and are happening around us (QV the euthanasia debate) but are they really novel material, which, to me at least, depends on character. Like Mrs Thatcher I sometimes tend to think that society is a myth. Oh well, I guess I'm just not a sci-fi guy. #7 20th April 2011, 08:29 AM tagesmann A lot of modern clothes are made with synthetic fibres, especially those made for women. And our society is obsessed with fashion and with buying this year's styles. I think Huxley also correctly predicted our rampant consumerism. But where he suggested an almost compulsory consumerism which created a demand for products and services we have a manufacturing industry that creates the demand by constantly developing new products. #8 20th April 2011, 12:28 PM nonsuch Of course it is dated, like Wells and Orwell, because many of the prophesies have become commonplace and others are too far-fetched to even make us smile. The reader must take fantasy fiction for what it's worth and when it is satirical and funny, like Gulliver's Travels or Animal Farm, for example, it is hugely enjoyable. There's a fictional world presented in those books that relates to our world, as it is and always will be, but with Brave New World I felt I was being dragged through one gimmick after another - frozen wastes, deserts, skyscraper countries or whatever - all to show us what bizarre futures we could be heading for. Still, I did laugh at some bits - John the barbarian becoming a Shakespeare scholar for instance. Sci-fi should either be funny or rather chilling - like, say, Ferency's Metropole, which is so close to our real world as to be horrific. Orwell, it seems to me, does both extraordinarily well in Animal Farm and pulls the horror thread uncomfortably tight in 1984, which is not funny and almost too close for comfort. Huxley never quite engages the reader to the same degree. #9 5th August 2011, 12:50 PM Luis Saunders "…what would it be like if I could, if I were free – not enslaved by my conditioning." I found this quote on ****** along with an analysis, discussion, and references pertaining to Brave New World. It really helped me understand the book, its magnificence and significance to the way society is progressing today, especially in developed countries like ours. The current preoccupation really is with comfort, with numbing ourselves to anything unpleasant, anything that leaves us feeling uncertain. Psychiatrists prescribe Prozac like candy. Those who can afford it control the temperature, the lighting, the very environment they live in to shut out the elements. Every human experience can be purchased if you have enough money. The world Aldous Huxley speaks of could be a reality very soon. #10 13th August 2011, 11:58 AM nonsuch It already is! That's why, in many ways, the novel, like some of Ray Bradbury, seems somewhat dated. #11 15th October 2011, 04:28 PM eager reader My teenager and young adult students all love this book. I set it as a reader almost every semester. It all started a few years ago, when 1984 used to be one of the set titles for the Cambridge FCE exam. Back then I recommended it as a complement to 1984 to the students who had read that and enjoyed, and it proved to be so popular that whenever I have a group with that profile I go for it again. I also like this novel a lot myself, but I often wonder why the younger generation responds to it so positively. Could it be that they somehow see the world as it is today - cold-hearted, no room for love, only alphas taking it all - reflected on the plot ? It's incredible how most teenagers seem to be without hope nowadays. I suppose Brave New World illustrates that lack of social mobility so perfectly it gives them comfort regarding their own lives. #12 15th October 2011, 07:21 PM momac I certainly hope that it doesn't apply to most teenagers, what a depressing thought when they have their whole lives ahead of them. #13 16th October 2011, 02:38 PM eager reader Hi Momac, I also find it utterly depressing and certainly hope this is just a local problem here in Brazil - but unfortunately it's what I've been noticing recently. Our educational system is extremely elitist, and youngsters realise from an early age that the vast majority will probably be excluded from a good university and therefore good jobs in the future. This makes them very competitive at a time when they should be just enjoying their youth. The ones who feel they can't enter the race just give up and conform. It's a downward spiral, really, which could only be reversed if we had drastic changes implemented from secondary school on, but our government is not too keen... Sad, sad, sad. #14 15th November 2011, 01:08 PM Chris Parker I loved this book, even though it's gloomy and ends on a downer. It's remarkable when you think of the publishing date. I was talking to my 12-year old son about the streaming in his school. They put the brightest kids in 'E' stream, next brightest in 'D' stream etc, for most of their lessons. Except for the alphabet reverasl, I was struck by the similarity with alphas etc. If we're not careful we'll be educating (if not genetically engineering) the next generation. At least there's the X Factor to keep everyone entertained and happy!
This is a really great book. Although written nearly 75 years ago, Brave New World is perhaps more relevant today than ever. Huxley’s futuristic vision is one of mass produced designer babies, controlled a-sexual reproduction within a strict caste system, drug controlled happiness, and governmental brainwashing from babyhood. There is no literature, no culture, no family and certainly no individual thought. Scientific and political development over the last century has led his vision to take on an eerie ring of truth, and although obviously hyperbolic, the novel poses interesting questions as to what may happen in the future if such developments are not kept in check. The character of John the Savage emphasizes the horrific nature of this New World. Raised on a primitive ‘Savage Reservation’ where people live and breed naturally, John is the human conscience of the novel. He is brought to the New World and falls in love with the beautiful Lenina Crowne, a relationship doomed from the start. His emotional response to events is in sharp contrast with Lenina’s almost robotic reactions, and means the two can never relate to one another, showing how far removed from humanity this new society is. John can think for himself and is a danger to the neat structure of the New World. He highlights the reasons why the population must be kept sedated by drugs, and why their environment is so strictly controlled. Such a highly controlled caste system can only exist if those within it are conditioned to it as real human nature would not support such a system. Brave New World is an excellent book. It poses many challenging questions about what it means to be human and whether is it worth sacrificing this for a society with no suffering. Whether you agree with Huxley or disagree, you’re sure to have an opinion! Has anyone else read it and if so what did you think?
I'm working my way through the major Huxleys at the moment and have reached Point Counter Point, which appears to be one long ramble. Some of the characters are meant to represent famous figures of the time (such as D.H. Lawrence), and although I enjoy Huxley's style, I'm sure some of the wit is lost on me. I feel as if I need a history lesson in London celebrities of the interwar years.