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Brave New World Kaldric Send a noteboard - 31/08/2009 02:48:19 PM
Brave New World by Aldous Huxley was recommended to me by a friend in high school. Thus it has been on my "to-read" list for over a decade, but I had never sat down and read it, until now. And yes, there are some spoilers. The book was published over 70 years ago; you should have read it already. (-:,`

Brave New World opens in London in "the year of our Ford 632" (2540 by our calendar). Henry Ford is pretty much worshipped, and the people often attribute others' sayings to him, most notably Sigmund Freud--"Our Ford-or Our Freud, as, for some inscrutable reason, he chose to call himself whenever he spoke of psychological matters...."--and the calendar is based on the year that the first Model T rolled off the assembly line (1908, for those of you who don't want to do the math, look it up, or already know).

Religion is banned (the tops of all crosses were cut off to form a "T", the new symbol of Henry Ford, for example), as is most literature. The government allows no game or activity that does not require several tools or props, and the people are conditioned to throw out anything that starts to wear out and always buy new. There are no families, and even the word "mother" is obscene. People are not "born" per se; they are all genetically engineered in tubes. Sexual promiscuity is not only encouraged, it is expected; monogamous relationships are almost unheard of, and anyone suspected of such is considered abnormal at best.

Eugenics is used to create different classes of people, from Alphas to Epsilons. Alphas are the tall, strong, intelligent, and most attractive, and the Epsilons are all genetically engineered to be short, ugly, and, essentially, retarded. And of course, there are the Betas, Gammas, and Deltas in between. From birth, each group is socially conditioned via hypnopaedia (repeated messages during sleep) and Pavlovian conditioning to act as one in their class should. The result is that everyone is happy and productive in their station, and the world is at peace. And if you aren't as happy as you'd like, there is always soma, a drug engineered to not have any physiological or psychological side-effects.

The story involves one Bernard Marx, an Alpha who is abnormally short, leading to rumors that alcohol was accidentally included in his blood surrogate, a part of the process of making Epsilons. Bernard convinces a young woman by the name of Lenina to accompany him on a trip to a reservation in New Mexico. A reservation is a closely-guarded area, completely surrounded by high-voltage electric fences; a place where society has deemed it pointless to "civilize" the inhabitants. The "savages" on the reservation are generally left alone, aside from occasional tourists, and are free to continue as they have, following religion as they will, a seeming hodge-podge of Native American, Christian, and Eastern religions.

While touring the reservation, Bernard and Lenina meet Linda, an old woman who, many years prior, had been a tourist who got lost and was left behind when the man she had been accompanying went back to England. In spite of taking all the usual precautions, she had been pregnant at the time of her trip, and later gave birth a son named John. Previously a "civilized" person, she was distraught at having given birth and having a baby, though she came to know that John was a comfort to her during the hard times. Linda's conditioned upbringing, particularly her promiscuity, led to Linda and John always being considered outsiders, in spite of John's desire to be included in the village. Bernard makes some calls and gets permission to bring Linda and John back to London, and the remainder of the book relates John's encounters with "civilization."

In Brave New World, Aldous Huxley tells a fascinating cautionary tale that some believe we are already on the path to fulfill. The underlying question posed in Brave New World is what cost are we willing to pay for stability, for a perfect society? The result is a thought-provoking story without being preachy, yet still entertaining. I found the book to be engaging throughout, and I wholeheartedly recommend it to anyone.

P.S. The "NSSP" is implied.

Of course, [Quixote] carried it a bit too far. He thought that every windmill was a giant. That's insane. But, thinking that they might be...
--Justin Playfair, They Might Be Giants
This message last edited by Rebekah on 31/08/2009 at 02:55:46 PM
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Brave New World - 31/08/2009 02:48:19 PM 5199 Views
I love it. - 31/08/2009 03:12:09 PM 1576 Views
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It's been in my to read pile for a while now - 31/08/2009 04:03:15 PM 1549 Views
Re: It's been in my to read pile for a while now - 31/08/2009 05:42:54 PM 1639 Views
Re: It's been in my to read pile for a while now - 31/08/2009 05:58:21 PM 1488 Views
Brave New World is a much better book then 1984 - 01/09/2009 05:56:53 PM 1411 Views
Read it in high school English class - 31/08/2009 04:48:27 PM 1491 Views
Re: Read it in high school English class - 31/08/2009 05:43:39 PM 1479 Views
I remember liking it years ago. - 31/08/2009 05:19:31 PM 1609 Views
Re: I remember liking it years ago. - 31/08/2009 05:46:28 PM 1545 Views
That book is downright scary - 31/08/2009 10:06:25 PM 1467 Views
I liked it, but I prefer Nineteen Eighty-Four. - 01/09/2009 01:02:57 AM 1624 Views
The book made me uncomfortable, but in good ways. - 01/09/2009 05:16:31 PM 1476 Views
One of my favourite books ever.. makes you think.. a lot! *NM* - 02/09/2009 09:03:34 AM 1060 Views

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