52 in 52 Week 9: Brave New World by Aldous Huxley

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Oh my goodness! 

What a book! I LOVED it.

It is absolutely brilliant!!!! 

 We inherited it from my well-read, departed  father-in-law, and it has been staring at me from the bookcase that faces my bed, but I was afraid of it. My husband warned me, "Carol, it is PG-13." He tried to read it, and he didn't like all the sex. So, I have always been a bit hesitant about reading it.

Well, the sex isn't described in detail, and Huxley is satirizing the cheapening of sex in  this "civilized" society. The promiscuity is seen as a bad thing in the novel. Just want to make that clear from the beginning. 

In Brave New World, Huxley creates a world without Shakespeare and roses and God. Yet, Shakespeare is quoted throughout the book! How fun that I had just finished reading Othello, Romeo and Juliet, and King Lear, and will be reading The Tempest as my next book! These works (and many more) are quoted.  

In fact, the title of Brave New World comes from The Tempest:

How many goodly creatures are there here!
How beauteous mankind is!
O brave new world,
That has such people in it!

Blurry monochrome head-and-shoulders portrait of Aldous Huxley, facing viewer's right, chin a couple of inches above hand
Aldous Huxley
You can read all the quotes from Shakespeare HERE.

Before there was George Orwell (Eric Blair), there was Huxley. And Huxley happened to be Orwell's French teacher at Eaton where he was "an incompetent and hopeless teacher who couldn't keep discipline. Nevertheless, Blair and others were impressed with his use of words" (Wikipedia). We can see Huxley's influence in Orwell's famous novel, 1984

From Wikipedia: On 21 October 1949, Huxley wrote to George Orwell, author of Nineteen Eighty-Four, congratulating him on "how fine and how profoundly important the book is". In his letter to Orwell, he predicted:
Within the next generation I believe that the world's leaders will discover that infant conditioning and narco-hypnosis are more efficient, as instruments of government, than clubs and prisons, and that the lust for power can be just as completely satisfied by suggesting people into loving their servitude as by flogging them and kicking them into obedience.[13]
Both these works are considered "Anti-utopian (or dystopian)" novels pointing out society's weaknesses by highlighting its fanaticism. Many of the characters have names similar to famous personages of Marxism, Communism, and Fascism. The political symbolism is evident.

While 1984 has a very dark, cold, cruel, and serious tone, Brave New World is serious, satirical, and even funny at times; like a cross between Orwell's 1984 and Animal Farm. I like Brave New World much better than 1984. Maybe it was all the Shakespeare!

Huxley wrote that the major theme of this book is "the advancement of science as it affects human individuals." The novel "satirizes modern society by creating a future world in which population control and mental programming have been carried to extremes," and the "citizens of the benign brave new world have been conditioned to be happy and well adjusted. But along with this kind of happiness comes the loss of individualism, and perhaps even the loss of human values, history, and civilization" (The Book of Great Books: A Guide to 100 World Classics, p. 96). 

One way that this society achieves happiness is through that "happiness in a bottle" drug called SOMA. It so reminded me of the new AEROSHOT, breathable caffeine that is advertised as pure energy that is a "new healthy way to receive the energy you need to live an exciting and productive life - anytime, anywhere."  That is scary!

There are many more scary parallels in the book, but you have to read it to understand that. I don't want to spoil it for you.

One additional note, I told my husband that that was the best narration I had every heard. Then, I looked and saw it was narrated by acclaimed actor, Michael York. NO WONDER!  

I will stop here, by a quote from a friend on Facebook who responded when I said I had just finished this book, "I LOVE that book! Everyone should read it. At least every westerner should." I heartily agree!


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