Sunday, April 30, 2017

Brave New World

Brave New World is a dystopian novel by Aldous Huxley that takes place in a word where humans are hatched and brought up by the state to be members of particular classes in society.  It tells the story of Bernard and Lenina who visit the outside world and meet John, a "savage".

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The world of Brave New World is so different from our own world, and yet bears some alarmingly relatable elements.

The story starts off with a description of how the humans are born into the world.  They are created completely separately from the natural way, and are raised in labs.  The young children are then slowly indoctrinated into believing what the World Controllers want by being subtly exposed to spoken phrases during their sleep.

The children are encouraged to participate in "erotic play", discouraged from referencing any type of family structure ("mother" and "father" are practically bad words) and are never exposed to any type of religion (the "Lord" is replayed with the "Ford").

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John, raised outside this dystopia is driven to madness by the sheer reversal of human logic and kills himself at the end of the book.

First of all, I like the writing style of this book.  I read it all in one sitting (because it was due at the library that day and not up for renewal), and it was very fast paced.

There was one particular section near the beginning where conversations about the human hatching process and Lenina's conversation about Bernard were inter-spliced in a parallel sort of way, and that whole exchange was uninterrupted dialogue.

I think Brave New World would be an awesome book to read in an English class or book club because it is a great example of looking at our society through the lens of a fictional place, and is very conducive to discussion.

There were so many things in the story that on the face of it seem so distasteful to humans, but really exist in some form in our real life.

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John has a lengthy conversation about the importance of religion toward the end of the book which I thought was interesting to read, though not very subtle on the author's part.

The main issue with this book is that it is sometimes very obvious in terms of getting its themes across.  It is a short book, and not much digging is required to find the ideas within.  I suppose this is just a personal preference, but I prefer when the story is able to exist without the themes and vice versa.

This story exists not to tell a story, but to send a message.  That's one purpose of fiction, but the story on it's own would not be entertaining.  But then again, it is the themes of a story that make it worth the time it takes to read, and this story definitely has some great ideas.

I would recommend this story, especially if you like analyzing culture and pointing out flaws in society.

Have you ever read Brave New World?  What did you think of it's themes?

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  1. I read it a couple years ago and really enjoyed it... it's a little scary sometimes though in how real it feels.

  2. This sounds rather like "Night Operation" by Owen Barfield (one of the Inklings)

    1. Huh, I've never read anything by him, but I'll give it a try sometime!