Brave New World by Aldous Huxley
Brave New World is a novel written in 1931 by Aldous Huxley and published in 1932. Set in London in the year AD 2540 (632 A.F.—”After Ford”—in the book), the novel anticipates developments in reproductive technology, sleep-learning, psychological manipulation, and classical conditioning that combine profoundly to change society. Huxley answered this book with a reassessment in an essay, Brave New World Revisited (1958), and with Island (1962), his final novel.
In 1999, the Modern Library ranked Brave New World fifth on its list of the 100 best English-language novels of the 20th century. In 2003, Robert McCrum writing for The Observer included Brave New World chronologically at number 53 in “the top 100 greatest novels of all time”, and the novel was listed at number 87 on the BBC’s survey The Big Read.
A towering classic of dystopian satire, BRAVE NEW WORLD is a brilliant and terrifying vision of a soulless society—and of one man who discovers the human costs of mindless conformity.
Hundreds of years in the future, the World Controllers have created an ideal civilization. Its members, shaped by genetic engineering and behavioral conditioning, are productive and content in roles they have been assigned at conception. Government-sanctioned drugs and recreational sex ensure that everyone is a happy, unquestioning consumer; messy emotions have been anesthetized and private attachments are considered obscene. Only Bernard Marx is discontented, developing an unnatural desire for solitude and a distaste for compulsory promiscuity. When he brings back a young man from one of the few remaining Savage Reservations, where the old unenlightened ways still continue, he unleashes a dramatic clash of cultures that will force him to consider whether freedom, dignity, and individuality are worth suffering for.
Aldous Huxley’s ingenious fantasy of a future of mechanical efficiency and engineered harmony has been enormously influential for generations, and is as provocative, powerful, and riveting as when it was first published in 1932.
“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 the Audio CD edition.
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
Aldous Huxley (1894-1963) is the author of the classic novels Island, Eyeless in Gaza, and The Genius and the Goddess, as well as such critically acclaimed nonfiction works as The Devils of Loudun, The Doors of Perception, and The Perennial Philosophy. Born in Surrey, England, and educated at Oxford, he died in Los Angeles.
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