Sunday, 13 May 2012

Brave New World by Aldous Huxley

This is a classic look into a dystopian future, but a future that has disturbing parallels with the way we live today.

A mix of genetic engineering, brainwashing and recreational drugs and sex has turned everyone into happy consumers, who are unable to question or to feel real emotion. From babyhood people are conditioned to avoid becoming connected with other people or with nature and conditioned to accept life as it will be for them in their predetermined social category. People die in dying homes where the TV volume is turned right up and no-one visits except school groups on tours to get them conditioned to accepting death as something that doesn't matter.

So in the ultimate sense everyone is alone, but at the same time in everyday life they're pressured into constant communal activities and aren't allowed time by themselves, until they get old and socially unacceptable.

Bernard Marx, the main character, somehow has maintained enough individuality to question what is going on and travels to one of the few remaining Savage Reservations where he finds life being lived as it used to be, full of the possibility of the whole range of human emotions. 

This novel (written in 1932) is still a glimpse into a future of genetic engineering and social control, while offering insights into the way we live today.

I reviewed this book for Brighton Blogger's 2012 Reading Challenge


P. M. Doolan said...

I like your line: "in the ultimate sense everyone is alone, but at the same time in everyday life they're pressured into constant communal activities and aren't allowed time by themselves'; today, many are alone but are in constant communication via Face Book.

Madeleine Begun Kane said...

You've made me want to re-read this. It's been so long. Thanks!

Bill said...

I first read this in the early 1960s. Glad to know it still works.

Magyar said...

__May I recommend, from the same time period, the novel Anthem, a paralell, but so brief. __Selective breeding, and applied to those births... mind imprinting and its resulting control, "ego" is against the law; there is always, deep inside, that 'seed of self' that dreams beyond "the commitee's" rules.
__Ayn Rand. It is, but 100 pages in length. _m

Martin said...

So many sad parallels, Juliet. But some people are so anaesthetised, they're completely unaware of the world around them.

Crafty Green Poet said...

PM Noolan - thanks, it is worth knowing though that for many people (myself included) Facebook and other online social networks including blogging have actually lead to worthwhile real life friendships.

Madeleine - enjoy re-reading!

Bill - it does indeed!

Magyar - thanks for the recommendation!

Martin - it's very sad but true, many people are anaesthetised...

Ms Sparrow said...

I had forgotten many of the details of the novel. Thanks for the reminder I need to go back and read it again!

Sandy's witterings said...

I read this probably 4 or 5 years ago now. A fine novel and not, I think dated, as some science fiction can be, but it must be impossible now to read it with the eyes of a 1930s person. A chap could put what he wants into print and not shock anyone anymore, so perhaps this would have had a bigger impact at the time.