Reviews from Lord Taylor of Glencoe
Brave New World: Aldous Huxley, February 11-20, 2017
My rating: ♦♦♦♦◊
Huxley’s dystopian classic comments on the intricacies of human nature by exploding the debate.
In 2540 AD, or 632 AF (After Ford), the world has been revolutionised and humanity is the result of a production line. Social class is predetermined, and a long process of conditioning (“hypnopaedia”) brainwashes people into thinking whichever class they’ve ended up in, it’s the best one to be. Love is non-existent, death is no longer perceived as a negative experience, and any time there’s anything to feel bad about, government-issued drugs (“soma“) are on hand for a legal high (“holiday”).
In essence, the stability of the society is guaranteed because every individual is entirely stable and predictable and content with their lot. Except the obligatory one man, who had a bit of extra booze pumped into his conditioning pod, had his growth stunted and is a bit of an oddball.
The writing isn’t anything spectacular, but the story has had a lot of thought put into it. Though it drags a bit at the start, once it gets going it keeps a steady pace and Huxley isn’t scared to examine his world. Huxley picks his world up like a prism through John, who hasn’t been conditioned at all, and interrogates it to a fault. It’s not presented as a horrible future version of the world without merit, and that makes it worse. There’s an element of genuine logic that makes it all the more disturbing.
Brave New World is a defence of our way of life, of our values and of the need for virtues. But it’s also a warning: is a lack of strife worth sacrificing our heroes for? A lack of love worth sacrificing our heartbreak for? And should we have the right to be unhappy? It’s not doom and gloom; it’s thought-provoking and even a little affirming. Huxley presents a very carefully crafted universe, and a message that will stick with you.