Saturday, January 3, 2015

Book Review- Brave New World

For the Classics Club spin I read Aldous Huxley's Brave New World.
Synopsis from Goodreads: 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...
I was entirely shocked at this book when I first started but as I went along I became more sensitized to it as I got used to the setting of the story. When I thought about this, I realized that this is what has happened to the world too. The World, I'll think specifically of America here since I'm American, has become progressively more depraved and we've reached the point that we're so sensitized to evil that it really doesn't strike us as too terrible anymore. Have we gotten to the point of Brave New World yet? No, but I think we are far closer than we are comfortable admitting.
Here are a lot of quotes that I found thought provoking in various ways. In a way, I think Huxley was trying to make us think while reading this story, asking us questions. 

Here is a passage of dialogue that prods the mind. 
"But if you know about God why don't you tell people?" Asked the Savage indignantly. "Why don't you read these books about God?"
"For the same reason as we don't give them Shakespeare; they're old; they're about God hundreds of years ago, not about God now."
"But God doesn't change;"
"Men do though."
"What difference does that make?"
That last line for me is the cruncher. What difference does that make?

This is a great passage:
“Isn't there something in living dangerously?'
There's a great deal in it,' the Controller replied. 'Men and women must have their adrenals stimulated from time to time.'
What?' questioned the Savage, uncomprehending.
It's one of the conditions of perfect health. That's why we've made the V.P.S. treatments compulsory.'
V.P.S.?'
Violent Passion Surrogate. Regularly once a month. We flood the whole system with adrenin. It's the complete physiological equivalent of fear and rage. All the tonic effects of murdering Desdemona and being murdered by Othello, without any of the inconvenience.'
But I like the inconveniences.'
We don't,' said the Controller. 'We prefer to do things comfortably.'
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. 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 quote in my opinion really pertains today in a world of instant gratification and where we have incredible resources and for some of us, we don't really work for what we get (I know I am guilty of that sometimes). “The Savage nodded, frowning. "You got rid of them. Yes, that's just like you. Getting rid of everything unpleasant instead of learning to put up with it. Whether 'tis better in the mind to suffer the slings and arrows or outrageous fortune, or to take arms against a sea of troubles and by opposing end them...But you don't do either. Neither suffer nor oppose. You just abolish the slings and arrows. It's too easy."  ..."What you need," the Savage went on, "is something with tears for a change. Nothing costs enough here.” 
This quote really goes into "happy" and what that means. “Actual happiness always looks pretty squalid in comparison with the overcompensations for misery. And, of course, stability isn't nearly so spectacular as instability. And being contented has none of the glamour of a good fight against misfortune, none of the picturesqueness of a struggle with temptation, or a fatal overthrow by passion or doubt. Happiness is never grand.”
Just reading back over these quotes I'm reminded how scarily real this book is and how America is truly creeping this way. Have you read Brave New World? What did you think of it? I would love to hear your thoughts on it. Do you agree or disagree with me? Let's start a discussion! :)

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10 comments:

  1. When I read this book many years ago, I did not make note of those references to God. That changes a lot. I need to reread this again soon.

    But I definitely got the connections to society: drugged up and unable to face hardships or suffering or difficult decisions, the lack of emotional connections between people, and the absence of family (parents). Ugh! Amazing how Huxley saw this coming.

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    1. I know the references to God at the end really took me off guard... I wasn't quite expecting them. :)

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  2. I just got this out of the library today as my next classic club read. I am looking forward to it but think it will be hard going. Sounds thought provoking. Emma

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    1. It was a pretty quick read actually, as thought provoking as it was.

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  3. I remember reading this over 20 yrs ago & thinking we (as a Western society) weren't that far away from it then. I guess that's the secret of its enduring success. Just enough of contemporary in there for us to recognise our possible (future) selves.

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    1. Yes indeed. Huxley knew what he was writing.

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  4. I was surprised at how much I liked this book. Lots of food for thought!

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  5. A very interesting review of a very interesting book. Where you and I differed DRASTICALLY....and I said something to this effect in my review, I didn't read this with any fear that it might come true. However, your review gave me pause. I think you are correct that the many of the sentiments, attitudes, values are indeed coming true. I was thinking more on the physical plain, the decanting centers, etc. So, it's good to read alternate views. Thanks.
    My review: http://100greatestnovelsofalltimequest.blogspot.com/2013/04/brave-new-world-by-aldous-huxley-1932.html

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    1. It is interesting how we we can read the book and differ in our viewpoints. :) However, I love that we can discuss these books years after they were written and they still spark discussion.

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