Brave New World – Book Review

It took me about a month, but I finally finished reading Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World, completing my journey through a dystopian future set in London in the year 2540 A.D. BraveNewWorld_FirstEdition

‘The greater a man’s talents, the greater his power to lead astray’

This quote sets the tone for Huxley’s novel, written in 1931, and published a year later in 1932. In the context of the history of the 20th century, the novel served as a unique, and menacing vision of the future during the interwar period between the end of the First World War (1914-1918), and the beginning of the Second World War (1939-1945).

Through his skillful prose, Huxley provides a prescient view of a future where he anticipates the development of various scientific ideas such as reproductive technology, sleep-learning, psychological manipulation, and classical conditioning. Human lives are controlled by a variety of forces including genetic engineering, indoctrination, and drugs. In fact, the concept of the individual is mired, and ultimately lost in the foundation of an “ideal” society where “everyone belongs to everyone else.”

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“…a bokanovskified egg will bud, will proliferate, will divide…making ninety-six human beings grow where only one grew before. Progress.”

Spontaneous human desires, and emotions are nullified by the anesthetizing public mantras, the messengers of the societal indoctrination that pervades Huxley’s world, but it doesn’t matter as “everybody’s happy nowadays.” The reader is provided entry into this bleak, but brave new world, through the daily lives, and attitudes of the major characters in the novel. Through their eyes, the reader is able to identify his/her critical opinions of a biased world where skepticism is in itself a crime, feared as an unnatural, and tainting element of the supposed balance expressed in the societal hierarchy.

Throughout the novel, Huxley borrows heavily from the works of his predecessors. In particular, he draws inspiration from much of Shakespeare’s works, providing several quotations from The Tempest, Troilus and Cressida, Romeo and Juliet, and Macbeth to name a few. The title of the novel is in fact from Miranda’s speech in The Tempest,

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“O wonder!
How many goodly creatures are there here!
How beauteous mankind is! O brave new world,
That has such people in’t.”

– William Shakespeare, The Tempest, Act V, Scene I, ll.

While Huxley himself speaks of his work’s inspiration from the utopian novels of H.G. Wells, including A Modern Utopia (1905) and Men Like Gods (1923), he disavows Wells’ hopeful vision of the future in place of the darker presentation he provides in his novel. Huxley’s novel also serves as a counterpart to the George Orwell’s 1984. The two novels differentiate themselves in the prescient views they prescribe to the future. While Orwell’s fears are borne of a world that rejects knowledge, Huxley’s fears are beset upon a world that finds knowledge redundant, or rather irrelevant.

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“…most men and women will grow up to love their servitude and will never dream of revolution.”

In conclusion, I believe Huxley feared the loss of the complexities that make human culture unique in exchange for triviality. He expresses this fears through the cyclical, and largely indifferent activities that his characters engage in their daily lives. By reading the book, and finding the various allusions it provides to modern-day society, I was left exhilarated at the daunting responsibility for the future that the current generation faces amidst a rapidly changing world. The triviality that Huxley frequently alludes to in his work is evident in today’s society, dominated by social media, leaving us blind to an extent, and in much need of a reassessment of what may constitute the necessary discussions, decisions, and actions we must partake in, for the greater security of our world, and the human species as a whole.

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“Again the greatest use of a human was to be useful. Not to consume, not to watch, but to do something for someone else that improved their life, even for a few minutes.”
― Dave Eggers, A Hologram for the King 

While Huxley may have realized his vision of such a brave new world several years ago, his work remains today as a warning, and as a reminder of the social responsibility every individual shares in the maintenance, and regulation of the world we live in.

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Blackouts, Thunderstorms, and a long weekend!

It has been a unique summer in Edmonton.

The myriad thunderstorms, hail, and the unexpected blackout made for an adventurous, and delightful long weekend. A most notable account would involve the consistent hail that battered against my balcony windows, followed by severe lightning flashes that struck close to my apartment, persuading me to disconnect my electrical devices (lest they got fried), along with the ensuing thunder that caused my eardrums to ring periodically.

The whole scenario had its share of perks, namely some delicious dining at home, lots of board games, romantic walks in the rainfall, and pure, unadulterated procrastination. The highlight of the weekend was the blackout the day before yesterday. I could attribute the event to be equivalent to what this guy had to experience,

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I’m stuck in an ATM vestibule with Jill Goodacre!

A lightning strike near our neighborhood resulted in a loss of electricity across the entire block, lasting for three hours.  I enjoyed the  throwback to a world without electricity. Having just returned from Chapters, following the purchase of an updated summer reading list,

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I’ve opted to begin with “Brave New World.” A book review should be due in the near future! The best part of the purchase was the 3 for $10 sale!

Leina, and I passed the hours, reading, and discussing the significant contributions of electricity to modern day life. It was relieving to not be bogged down with the usual streams of technology governing our daily entertainment.

The experience also provided ample food for thought, particularly on humanity’s dependence on technology, as well as the plight of third-world nations that may struggle for such basic (as would seem to those who live in first-world countries) resources.

All of which leads me to the subject of my next critical blog post: Electricity: Principles, and Applications. The post will be a brief review of the theory behind electricity, as well as its principal applications in our daily lives. The review will follow upon the format of various other popular science articles, and I hope to make it concise, and understandable for all my readers.

Meanwhile, I will spend the week continuing to edit my thesis. A preliminary date for  my defense has been chosen, though it is yet to be confirmed. Apart from this, I’m also  busy finishing up my second novel!

The long weekend was apt for inspiration, and I have several writing, art, and music projects aligned for the future! I hope to fill the absence until I post Electricity with brief updates on my daily thoughts, adventures, and blog modifications!

I hope everyone had a great weekend!