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Brave New World by Aldous Huxley
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Brave New World (1932)

by Aldous Huxley

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
36,21048517 (3.96)1024
  1. 692
    1984 by George Orwell (chrisharpe, zasmine, MinaKelly, li33ieg, haraldo, Ludi_Ling, Waldstein)
    zasmine: For Orwell was inspired by it. And Orwell's 1984 is as much of a prize as it.
    li33ieg: 1984, Brave New World and Fahrenheit 451: 3 essential titles that remind us of the need to keep our individual souls pure.
    Ludi_Ling: Really, the one cannot be mentioned without the other. Actually, apart from the dystopian subject matter, they are very different stories, but serve as a great counterpoint to one another.
    Waldstein: It's essential to read Huxley's and Orwell's books together. Both present the ultimate version of the totalitarian state, but there the similarities end. While Orwell argues in favour of hate and fear, Huxley suggests that pleasure and drugs would be far more effective as controlling forces. Who was the more prescient prophet? That's what every reader should decide for his- or herself.… (more)
  2. 472
    Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury (phoenix7g, meggyweg, Babou_wk, haraldo)
    Babou_wk: Contre-utopie, société future où l'unique but de la vie est le bonheur. Toute pratique requérant de la réflexion est bannie.
  3. 262
    A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess (MinaKelly)
  4. 161
    The Giver by Lois Lowry (afyfe)
  5. 130
    Brave New World Revisited by Aldous Huxley (pyrocow)
  6. 153
    We by Yevgeny Zamyatin (hippietrail, tehran)
    hippietrail: The original dystopian novel from which both Huxley and Orwell drew inspiration.
    tehran: Brave New World was largely inspired by Zamyatin's We.
  7. 100
    The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood (mcenroeucsb)
    mcenroeucsb: Both are benchmarks for dystopian literature.
  8. 60
    The Tempest by William Shakespeare (Sylak)
    Sylak: Caliban in The Tempest has many parallels with John the Savage in Brave New World.
  9. 50
    The Machine Stops by E. M. Forster (artturnerjr, KayCliff)
    artturnerjr: If you read only one other dystopian SF story, make it this one (well, you should read 1984, too, but you knew that already, didn't you?).
  10. 50
    Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? by Philip K. Dick (mcenroeucsb)
  11. 61
    Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro (sanddancer)
  12. 40
    This Perfect Day by Ira Levin (KayCliff)
  13. 40
    Animal Farm by George Orwell (sturlington)
  14. 118
    Catch-22 by Joseph Heller (fundevogel)
  15. 30
    Where Late the Sweet Birds Sang by Kate Wilhelm (rat_in_a_cage)
    rat_in_a_cage: Hinweis auf Rückentext bei »Hier sangen früher Vögel«.
  16. 30
    Player Piano by Kurt Vonnegut (Anonymous user)
  17. 86
    Stranger in a Strange Land (uncut edition) by Robert A. Heinlein (meggyweg)
  18. 10
    Love Among the Ruins by Evelyn Waugh (KayCliff)
  19. 10
    The Devils of Loudun by Aldous Huxley (John_Vaughan)
  20. 10
    Kallocain by Karin Boye (Mouseear)

(see all 37 recommendations)

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An interesting idea here. Probably very much so for it's time, era before the world wars. It's interesting for me to read this now, while I'm also reading a book about what makes people happy. Because Huxley is talking about problems in which a society has made themselves happy and nothing else. I have to say that while I didn't dislike this book, I didn't really like it that much. But that's not why I'm reading these classical literature. A good classic that a lot of people should take the time to read. ( )
  Kassilem | Apr 30, 2016 |
Aldous Huxley

Brave New World

Vintage, Paperback [2004].

8vo. xxxviii+229 pp. Introduction [v-xv] and biography [xvii-xxvi] by David Bradshaw, 1993. Foreword by Aldous Huxley, 1946 [xxix-xxxviii].

First published by Chatto & Windus, 1932.
This Vintage edition, 2004.

=================================================​

I have long wanted to re-read this book. Well, frankly, I have been scared of doing so. Hard to believe this was first published 84 years ago. Much of it is frightfully modern. Perhaps the most disturbing general conclusion to be drawn is that “utopia” and “dystopia” are worthless terms of gross oversimplification. Neither is even possible, let alone probable. Whatever world society we are going to build in the future, it would be a combination of both. And it would include some hard choices.

Huxley’s intensely grey Brave New World, in which hedonism is rampant and everybody has “no leisure from pleasure”, has aged so much better than Orwell’s black-and-white totalitarian dictatorship based on hate and fear. How many types of “soma” – the most famous drug in the World State, marvellously described as “all advantages of Christianity and alcohol; none of their defects” – do we have today? Legion. Shopping is the most popular version, while the so-called “reality TV” is certainly the most pernicious. The latter does precisely the same thing as soma. It provides with fake lives empty people who don’t have their own.

Brave New World has in abundance the single most important quality of the great “dystopian novel”. Ambiguity. Amazingly, this is concentrated within the World State alone, not in any clear-cut choice between “Community, Identity, Stability” and the Savage Reservation. When he was asked by a journalist in 1935 with which community he identified, Huxley reportedly answered “With neither, but I believe some mean between the two is both desirable and possible and must be our objective.”[1] Wise words, but the novel suggests that Huxley was rather more smitten with the godless order and cleanliness of the World State than with the chaos, superstition and filth of the Reservation. Which relatively normal human being wouldn’t be? It could be different if the Reservation offered some special opportunities to the individual, long lost in the monotonous stability of civilisation. But it offers nothing of the kind. The best thing it has managed to produce is a Savage who knows the works of Shakespeare by heart and understands nothing of them.

Arthur Clarke once said that Huxley’s “unfortunate string of asceticism prevented him from appreciating” that there is nothing wrong with a society which is uninhibited and hedonistic “so long as it is not the only answer.”[2] I am not sure this is true as far as Huxley is concerned. For my part, I think he secretly agreed with Mustapha Mond, the Resident Controller for Western Europe, that art, science and religion – indeed, our very individuality – is a price worth paying to eradicate social unrest and instability. If that means the abolition of family and motherhood, if it means that people should not be born, not even hatched, but grown, so be it. If truth and beauty must go – well, so be it. In the great conversation with the Savage at the end of the novel (Chapters XVI & XVII), “His fordship” makes an impressive case that these tremendous sacrifices may well be worth it. Happiness, like everything else, must be paid for. The ending of the penultimate chapter should have been the ending of the novel as well:

‘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.’
‘In fact,’ said Mustapha Mond, ‘you're claiming the right to be unhappy.’
‘All right then,’ said the Savage defiantly, ‘I'm claiming the right to be unhappy.’
‘Not to mention the right to grow old and ugly and impotent; the right to have syphilis and cancer; the right to have too little to eat; the right to be lousy; the right to live in constant apprehension of what may happen tomorrow; the right to catch typhoid; the right to be tortured by unspeakable pains of every kind.’
There was a long silence.
‘I claim them all,’ said the Savage at last.
Mustapha Mond shrugged his shoulders. ‘You’re welcome,’ he said.


This is by no means a perfect book. No book is anyway, and some of the faults of this one are rather obvious. The end of chapter III is virtually unreadable because Huxley, for reasons best known to himself, decided to tear several conversations to shreds and mix them well. The last chapter is quite unnecessary and boring; the thought-provoking conversation with Mustapha Mond clearly implied to what end the Savage would come. These are obvious technical defects. More importantly, one is right to object that the contrast between the World State and the Savage Reservation is much too bright. Surely, six centuries ahead even the most abject savages would become at least slightly civilised. Even Huxley’s science, most of which is convincing and even prescient, is sometimes badly dated. We now know that the crude type of embryonic conditioning which he describes in the beginning wouldn’t work nearly as well as he thought it would. There is nothing fundamentally impossible in it, but it has to be done first on genetic level and it’s much more difficult than Huxley ever imagined.[3]

Despite these faults, Brave New World remains a powerful and stimulating novel. It is very readable and often funny; you can guess it started as a “comic, or at least satirical, novel about the Future”, as Huxley wrote to his father in August 1931[4], but later grew into something much more ambivalent. The common observation that there is no protagonist is justified, but I don’t see why this is regarded as something to complain about. Characterisation is not the point of this novel, even though that discontented douchebag Bernard Marx, the irreparably damaged Savage, and the “wonderfully pneumatic” Lenina are more than talking mannequins. Even Mustapha Mond is sort of humanised. It’s a poignant moment when he remarks that he chose “to serve happiness. Other people’s – not mine.” I wish Huxley had spent more time on Helmholtz Watson (there’s potential here!), but let that pass. He was right, as made clear in the 1946 Foreword, to resist the temptation to revise the book in later years. It would almost certainly have become a lesser novel.

Many, perhaps too many, of Huxley’s ideas seem (un)fortunately more acceptable today than they doubtlessly did in 1932. We do have a few things to catch up with, but we are working hard at them. Who knows what we might be doing in “this year of stability, A.F. 632”!

__________________________________________________​
[1] As quoted by David Bradshaw is his fascinating introduction which provides a good deal of illuminating background. Mr Bradshaw’s biographical essay “Aldous Huxley (1896–1963)” is an excellent summary of Huxley’s life and work, including concise comments on his most important books.
[2] Arthur C. Clarke, Greetings, Carbon-Based Bipeds!, HarperCollins, 1999, p. 273. The essay in question is titled “The Mind of the Machine” and was first published in the collection Report on Planet Three and Other Speculations (1972).
[3] Don’t believe anybody who tells you, like the back cover of this edition, that the novel makes a great use of “genetic engineering”. Not even close. Huxley wrote in times when genetics was still in its infancy. Even such fundamental concepts like DNA’s double helix, not to mention the complicated mechanisms of gene regulation or the structure of the human genome, lay decades in the future.
[4] As quoted by Mr Bradshaw, ibid. See note 1. ( )
2 vote Waldstein | Apr 25, 2016 |
One of the best books I've read. Frightening but truly beautiful.
  bartt95 | Apr 10, 2016 |
See review on unowned copy-2.
  librisissimo | Apr 8, 2016 |
A little disappointed. I read After Many A Summer Dies The Swan some years ago and was blown away. This novel was, to be honest, a little crudely constructed and the analogies are sometimes just too outrageous (... and "orgy porgy?" come on now). Not the same depth as that of 'After Many A Summer,' though I was expecting, being this is the work Huxley's most famous for, something even more far reaching. Or to be honest, on par in at least the literary sense of it, for the ideas within probably are more far reaching. ( )
  AZG1001 | Mar 31, 2016 |
Showing 1-5 of 439 (next | show all)
En este libro visionario escrito en 1932, Aldous Huxley imagina una sociedad que utilizaría la genética y el clonaje para el condicionamiento y el control de los individuos. En esta sociedad futurista, todos los niños son concebidos en probetas. Ellos son genéticamente condicionados para pertenecer a una de las 5 categorías de población. De la más inteligente a la más estupida: les Alpha (la elite), los Betas (los ejecutantes), los Gammas (los empleados subalternos), los Deltas y los Epsilones (destinados a trabajos arduos). "El mundo feliz" describe también lo que seria una dictadura perfecta que tendría la apariencia de una democracia, una cárcel sin muros en el cual los prisioneros no sonarían en evadirse. Un sistema de esclavitud donde, gracias al sistema de consumo y el entretenimiento, los esclavos "tendrían el amor de su servitud".
added by Pakoniet | editLecturalia
 
It has remained for Aldous Huxley to build the Utopia to end Utopias-or such Utopias as go to mechanics for their inspiration, at any rate. He has satirized the imminent spiritual trustification of mankind, and has made rowdy and impertinent sport of the World State whose motto shall be Community, Identity, Stability.
 

» Add other authors (46 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Huxley, Aldousprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Atwood, MargaretIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Bradshaw, DavidIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Brochmann, GeorgTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Hernández, RamónTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Heuvelmans, TonAfterwordsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
McAfee, MaraIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Mok, MauritsTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Montagu, AshleyIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Orras, I. H.Translatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Snow, GeorgeCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Szentmihályi Szabó, PéterTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
York, MichaelNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Epigraph
Les utopies apparaissent bien plus réalisables qu'on ne le croyait autrefois. Et nous nous trouvons actuellement devant une question bien autrement angoissante : comment éviter leur réalisation définitive ?… Les utopies sont réalisables. La vie marche vers les utopies. Et peut-être un siècle nouveau commence-t-il, un siècle où les intellectuels et la classe cultivée rêveront aux moyens d'éviter les utopies et de retourner à une société non utopique moins 'parfaite' et plus libre.
(—Nicholas Berdiaeff)
Dedication
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A squat grey building of only thirty-four stories.
Quotations
Unorthodoxy threatens more than the life of a mere individual; it strikes at Society itself.
..."What fun it would be," he thought, "if one didn't have to think about happiness!"
"I don't want comfort. I want God, I want poetry, I want real danger, I want freedom, I want goodness. I want sin ... I'm claiming the right to be unhappy". "Not to mention the right to grow old and ugly and impotent; the right to have syphilis and cancer; the right to have too little to eat; the right to be lousy; the right to live in constant apprehension of what may happen tomorrow; the right to catch typhoid; the right to be tortured by unspeakable pains of every kind." ... "I claim them all".
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Brave New World is by Aldous Huxley. If you have H.G. Wells as the author of Brave New World, please correct your data. Thank you.
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Book description
A fantasy of the future which sheds a blazing, critical light on the present - considered to be Aldous Huxley’s most enduring masterpiece.

Far in the future, the World Controllers have created the ideal society. Through clever use of genetic engineering, brainwashing and recreational sex and drugs all its members are happy consumers. Bernard Marx seems alone harbouring an ill-defined longing to break free. A visit to one of the few remaining Savage Reservations where the old, imperfect life still continues, may be the cure for his distress…
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0060929871, Paperback)

"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.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:10:05 -0400)

(see all 6 descriptions)

A fantasy of the future that sheds a blazing critical light on the present--considered to be Aldous Huxley's most enduring masterpiece. Mr. Huxley is eloquent in his declaration of an artist's faith in man, and it is his eloquence, bitter in attack, noble in defense, that, when one has closed the book, one remembers. A Fantastic racy narrative, full of much excellent satire and literary horseplay. It is as sparkling, provocative, as brilliant, in the appropriate sense, as impressive ads the day it was published. This is in part because its prophetic voice has remained surprisingly contemporary, both in its particular forecasts and in its general tone of semiserious alarm. But it is much more because the book succeeds as a work of art. This is surely Huxley's best book.… (more)

» see all 25 descriptions

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