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Brave New World Paperback – October 17, 2006
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"Community, Identity, Stability" is the motto of Aldous Huxley's utopian World State. Here everyone consumes daily grams of soma, to fight depression, babies are born in laboratories, and the most popular form of entertainment is a "Feelie," a movie that stimulates the senses of sight, hearing, and touch. Though there is no violence and everyone is provided for, Bernard Marx feels something is missing and senses his relationship with a young women has the potential to be much more than the confines of their existence allow. Huxley foreshadowed many of the practices and gadgets we take for granted today--let's hope the sterility and absence of individuality he predicted aren't yet to come. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
From Library Journal
Grade 8 Up-Brave New World by Aldous Huxley is a classic science fiction work that continues to be a significant warning to our society today. Tony Britton, the reader, does an excellent job of portraying clinical detachment as the true nature of the human incubators is revealed. The tone lightens during the vacation to the wilderness and the contrast is even more striking. Each character is given a separate personality by Britton's voices. As the story moves from clinical detachment to the human interest of Bernard, the nonconformist, and John, the "Savage," listeners are drawn more deeply into the plot. Finally, the reasoned tones of the Controller explain away all of John's arguments against the civilization, leading to John's death as he cannot reconcile his beliefs to theirs.The abridgement is very well done, and the overall message of the novel is clearly presented. The advanced vocabulary and complex themes lend themselves to class discussion and further research. There is sure to be demand for this classic in schools and public libraries.
Pat Griffith, Schlow Memorial Library, State College, PA
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Top Customer Reviews
As regards the actual plot, Brave New World is in essence a portrayal of a utopia (or dystopia, depending how you look at it) in which there is constant prosperity, people are always content, as they are well provided for and have been programmed to like their society in all respects. This programming is undertaken by workers in charge of breeding the future citizens of this idyllic world, which is united under one government, under Ford. As everybody has been programmed to like their class and job, everybody is constantly content and has no wish to do anything other than what is required of them. If they happen to become depressed, of course, there is always the mood altering drug Soma.
Through presenting a few individuals who do not exactly fit into this molded world, however, Huxley presents us with a challenging and endlessly interesting question: What can possibly be wrong with a world in which everybody is happy, even if there is no real free will involved in actuality? If we can make ourselves superficially content and never have to suffer a moment of desperation or uncertainty, why not just do that? With the help of William Shakespeare and a young man from a "savage reservation," Huxley explores the alternatives to his invented society's promotion of mindless satisfaction. Should true art and the deep thought and emotion that inspires it be sacrificed to perpetual happiness without thought or deeper feeling? Or is the attempt to find these deeper meanings just silly and self-defeating, as we will all meet the same fate in the end?
In this era of quick entertainment, instant gratification and materialism unbounded, there are no better questions to be asking than these, the ones at the heart of Brave New World. Pick up a copy and start to read - in addition to being quite interesting as a science-fiction book or portrayal of a future world, Brave New World is a book that inspires a lot of thinking about our lives today.
Huxley opens the book by allowing the reader to eavesdrop on a tour of the Fertilizing Room of the Central London Hatchery and Conditioning Centre, where the high-tech reproduction takes place. Into this seemingly advanced civilization is introduced John, a "savage" from a reservation where old human culture still survives. Thus, BNW is also a tale of "culture shock" and conflict.
Huxley creates a compelling blend of bizarre comedy, serious character study, futuristic extrapolation, and philosophical discussion. His writing style is crisp and witty, and cleverly incorporates references to canonical works of literature. Probably the scariest thing about BNW is the fact that, in many ways, humanity seems to be moving closer to Huxley's dystopian vision.
“Taos and Tesuque; over Nambe and Picuris and Pojoaque, over Zia and Cochiti, over Laguna and Acoma and Enchanted Mesa, over Zuni and Cibola and Ojo Caliente…” are all New Mexican place names mentioned by Huxley in one sentence; all so “exotic” and unknown to me in 1962, and now they are literally part of my landscape and reference frame. Why was New Mexico chosen, by this scion to a famous English family? Admittedly it is speculative on my part, and I would welcome comments, but Huxley associated with the Bloomsbury literary group and was a friend of D.H. Lawrence. Figure it was the Lawrence connection, whose remains are still vitrified, some 30 miles north of Taos that led Huxley to place a portion of his novel in this “exotic” location. I just finished reading David Robert’s The Pueblo Revolt: The Secret Rebellion That Drove the Spaniards Out of the Southwest which was led by a shaman from the San Juan pueblo, Popé. In Huxley’s novel, Linda, fresh from London, was left behind in New Mexico, would “go native,” and married a Popé.
Huxley’s novel is a dystopia, one of the two classic visions of the future, along with George Orwell’s 1984 that were de rigueur reading in the ‘60’s. Huxley’s vision was control through the “soft glove,” and, in general, seems to have been a truer insight that the brutal control depicted by Orwell. In “Brave New World” the family is obsolete. All children are “hatched,” that is, created in test tubes. Society’s objectives are stated on page 01: “Community, Identity, and Stability.” From birth, and even before, individuals are designated to a particular level in society; it is a rigid caste system. Drugs are the answer! Specifically “soma,” which seems to be modeled on mescal. The opioid addiction depicted in today’s headlines was foreshadowed by Huxley some 85 years ago. It is difficult to believe that Huxley, writing in the depths of the Great Depression, could have foreseen the mindless consumerism of today, and I smiled when reading the scene in which students are trained to have a horror of flowers and the open countryside since they are free, and would distract from the “duty” to consume, and help someone else “make a buck.”
In Huxley’s world, there were only two billion people. Overpopulation was a theme, somewhat, in BNW, but in “Revisited,” the author articulated his position with much more precision:
“Unsolved, that problem will render insoluble all our other problems. Worse, still, it will create conditions in which individual freedom and the social decencies of the democratic way of life will become impossible, almost unthinkable.” We are currently at seven billion, and the topic of overpopulation is largely ignored.
No question, Huxley was a visionary of the future problems of human society. In terms of his novel however, I felt that his characters were too wooden, and the action too contrived, including the ending. The reader, no doubt as intended, will identify with the outlier, Bernard Marx, who, rumor has it, had a bit too much alcohol poured into his test-tube when he was being “hatched.” Overall, I found the very straightforward exposition of society’s problems, including the promotion of politicians as well-marketed commodities, as set forth in “Revisited” to be the far better read. As for the original, 4-stars.