First published: 1932
Coming off of a six-hundred page book, Brave New World was practically an afternoon peruse. Nonetheless, it didn’t lack quality. It was absolutely brilliant. Not to mention it followed perfectly with One Summer: America 1927, as it dealt with similar themes presented in that book (particularly the rapid advances of technology and it’s future consequences). Would technology make us robotics? Are we losing the human nature due to science?
A dystopian novel about a man named Bernard Marx (no accident in the last name) living in an extreme totalitarian future. A sort of utopia is established, everyone is happy all the time, drugs make it possible to remain constantly upbeat, there are no religions, people are encouraged to have sexual intercourse with whomever, and everyone has their future predetermined by conditioning (family status is destroyed as everyone belongs to everyone else). Bernard, however, feels alone and longs to break free from the system and runs off to a Savage Reservation as an attempt to cure his distress.
“Call it the fault of civilization. God isn’t compatible with machinery and scientific medicine and universal happiness. You must make your choice. Our civilization has chosen machinery and medicine and happiness.” (207)
If it’s starting to sound a lot like Nineteen Eighty-Four (Orwell) or We (Zamyatin) you are absolutely right. What particularly stood out for me compared to the other novels is Huxley’s diction. Stellar to the max. His writing is engaging yet conservative, and it has a very strong Victorian vibe. The terminology he uses it frequently permeates with science.
His connection to literature in particular it is just beautiful. In Huxley’s world, there is no need for books, and excess education, you are taught to memorize and repeat the same thing without having to think critically. Literature, and the liberal arts are completely extinguished. When our main character becomes aware of Shakespeare and literature (the title of the book is taken from a line in The Tempest) he is completely shocked and feels drawn to it, by what challenging emotions it conveys; any emotion outside of happiness is foreign for most of the people.
“Getting rid of everything unpleasant instead of learning to put up with it. Wether’tis nobler in the mind to suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune, or to take arms against a sea of troubles and by opposing end them… but you don’t do either. Neither suffer nor oppose. You just abolish the slings and arrows. It’s too easy.” (210)
There are just endless amounts of incredible quotations that Huxley provides me with, so I must restrain from recreating the book here. So I will just leave you with the following:
“ But I don’t want comfort. I want God, I want poetry, I want real danger, I want freedom, I want goodness. I want sin.” (211)
Verdict: A must-read classic. It’s a quick page-turner with plenty of incredible universal theme discussions that are worth a ponder. Themes that permeate into the contemporary world, as much as they are reminiscent of the time in which they were written.
Have you read any dystopian novels worth mentioning?