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Brave New World Hardcover – May 9, 2017
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“[A] masterpiece. ... One of the most prophetic dystopian works of the 20th century.” (Wall Street Journal)
From the Back Cover
Now more than ever, “one of the most prophetic dystopian works of the twentieth century” (Wall Street Journal) must be read and understood by anyone concerned with preserving the human spirit in the face of our brave new world.
Aldous Huxley’s profoundly important classic of world literature, Brave New World is a searching vision of an unequal, technologically advanced future where humans are genetically bred, socially indoctrinated, and pharmaceutically anesthetized to passively uphold an authoritarian ruling order whose motto is “Community, Identity, Stability”—all at the cost of our freedom, humanity, and perhaps our souls.
“A genius who spent his life decrying the onward march of the Machine” (New Yorker), Huxley was a man of incomparable talents: equally an artist, a spiritual seeker, and one of history’s keenest observers of human nature and civilization. Brave New World, his masterpiece, has enthralled and terrified millions of readers, and retains its urgent relevance to this day as both a warning as we head into tomorrow and a thought-provoking, satisfying work of literature. Written in the shadow of the rise of fascism during the 1930s, Brave New World likewise speaks to a twenty-first-century world dominated by mass entertainment, technology, medicine and pharmaceuticals, the arts of persuasion, and the hidden influence of elites.
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In "Brave New World" we follow Bernard Marx, a civilian in London of the Alpha caste. He has been born through the same process and lived the same, carefully structured lives as of the rest of the people in his caste, but somehow he has come to realize that there is something wrong with their society. He longs and seeks to find true happiness, because he realizes that the feeling that everyone calls happiness is empty, shallow and deprived of something from deep within. One thing he wants that is unacceptable is a relationship with the woman that he likes, Lenina Crowe. When he tries approaching her with this mindset, though, he is thought of as peculiar by her, because all of the men she has ever been with have seen her as an object to make love to. Despite her loyalty to the way the government wants them to live, Bernard keeps trying to let her understand that a relationship is what people really need.
Bernard invites her to come to the New Mexico Savage Reservation with him on a vacation, as he has always wanted to go, and he had also wanted to see what Lenina would think of it. The Savage Reservation is a whole new culture for both of them- they cannot believe that there are still such `savage' things going on in the world that they live in. Watching some of the things that are going on in the Reservation, Bernard is mesmerized- but Lenina is disgusted. Then, they meet John- a Savage whose mother used to live in London. His father is of the Alpha caste and his mother is of the beta-caste. His mother lives in the Savage Reservation with him, and she is described as a `disgusting thing'- people from the city have never seen a person who looks aged, because there are so many treatments to keep them healthy and young looking. Lenina ends up wanting to be with John, and John ends up falling in love with her. It's a mutual affection, but they can't communicate it because John feels that he is not worthy of her, that he must punish himself for loving her. Whereas she, living in a society where casual sex is encouraged, does not understand his logic and gets frustrated when he starts talking about how he must prove himself to her. Lenina and Bernard's vacation is nearing the end when they get permission to bring him back to the city in an experiment to see how a Savage would react to all of the different things there. He becomes an object of amusement and causes a lot of trouble when he does his first stint in this "brave new world."
The subject matter was a little frightening at times. Though happily it didn't delve into moralizing so much as presenting two sides or options for modeling civilization. Niether is idealized, both with their own forms of ugliness. Instead it leads the reader into contemplation, which I prefer over insinuating an absolute.