Burn, “Brave New World”, Burn

 

Brave New World by Aldous Huxley is a classic science fiction work that continues to be a significant warning to our society today. Tony Britton, the reader, does an excellent job of portraying clinical detachment as the true nature of the human incubators is revealed. The tone lightens during the vacation to the wilderness and the contrast is even more striking. Each character is given a separate personality by Britton’s voices. As the story moves from clinical detachment to the human interest of Bernard, the nonconformist, and John, the “Savage,” listeners are drawn more deeply into the plot. Finally, the reasoned tones of the Controller explain away all of John’s arguments against the civilization, leading to John’s death as he cannot reconcile his beliefs to theirs.The abridgement is very well done, and the overall message of the novel is clearly presented. The advanced vocabulary and complex themes lend themselves to class discussion and further research. There is sure to be demand for this classic in schools and public libraries.
Pat Griffith, Schlow Memorial Library, State College, PA

The GOOD:

At what price contentment?,June 10, 2003

This review is from: Brave New World (Paperback)

Brave New World is an excellent book and, what’s more, one that seems to be becoming more relevant all the time in our fast paced world. And unlike many other books with a similar philosophical orientation, Brave New World is quite refreshing, as Huxley’s prose is somehow manages to be clear, elegant and insightful without being overly obvious.

As regards the actual plot, Brave New World is in essence a portrayal of a utopia (or dystopia, depending how you look at it) in which there is constant prosperity, people are always content, as they are well provided for and have been programmed to like their society in all respects. This programming is undertaken by workers in charge of breeding the future citizens of this idyllic world, which is united under one government, under Ford. As everybody has been programmed to like their class and job, everybody is constantly content and has no wish to do anything other than what is required of them. If they happen to become depressed, of course, there is always the mood altering drug Soma.

Through presenting a few individuals who do not exactly fit into this molded world, however, Huxley presents us with a challenging and endlessly interesting question: What can possibly be wrong with a world in which everybody is happy, even if there is no real free will involved in actuality? If we can make ourselves superficially content and never have to suffer a moment of desperation or uncertainty, why not just do that? With the help of William Shakespeare and a young man from a “savage reservation,” Huxley explores the alternatives to his invented society’s promotion of mindless satisfaction. Should true art and the deep thought and emotion that inspires it be sacrificed to perpetual happiness without thought or deeper feeling? Or is the attempt to find these deeper meanings just silly and self-defeating, as we will all meet the same fate in the end?

In this era of quick entertainment, instant gratification and materialism unbounded, there are no better questions to be asking than these, the ones at the heart of Brave New World. Pick up a copy and start to read – in addition to being quite interesting as a science-fiction book or portrayal of a future world, Brave New World is a book that inspires a lot of thinking about our lives today.

The BAD:

 Quite Disappointing,May 5, 2000

By 
Mandamus (Saint Louis) – See all my reviews
 
This review is from: Brave New World (Paperback)

After being stimulated to read this book while reading the notes to George Orwell’s 1984 (which, incidentally, is completely different from BRAVE NEW WORLD), I found myself vastly let down. The intentionally flippant tone works for some people, but it detracts from the heavy/academic/philosophical themes, which, in this case, are actually quite good (which is why I even give it two stars).

The criticism Huxley received from his contemporaries–that he is the typical Oxford playboy-gentleman who seems far removed from his ideas–are valid. While one reads the book, one gets the feeling that Huxley is playing a little game–immensely enjoying himself by playing around with these essentially lofty ideas. His metaphors are self-consciously pretentious. For example, the whole idea of the Savage picking up a book of Shakespeare and somehow intrinsically understanding it, only later to spout off passage after passage, is shamelessly implausible. Metaphors should be subtle and smooth in such a way that the reader “forgets” that he’s actually reading a book, but so many of Huxley’s are too blatant that they beome intrusive and insulting. The running “ford” joke, I thought, seemed clever at first, but, like any joke, it wore out and became irratating after I read it on almost every page. For a man of such education and intelligence, it is surprising that he could write such a potentially good novel so poorly.

In the final analysis, if someone is only mildly interested in serious social topics, this book is for that person; it is funny (at times) and well-written (at fewer times) and exhibits some intriguing ideas (again, at times). But this book is not the “great work” that so many who buy into any author who would attack the progression of Western civilization make it out to be.

And The UGLY:

Huxley, a modern-day Nostradumbass,October 16, 2000

By 
 
This review is from: Brave New World (Paperback)

This book contains so much of what I dislike in would-be literature. It’s awash in generalities, blatantly didactic, guided by facile thought, caked with corny wordplay, and it displays no serious appreciation for language. It’s not even an entertaining read.

When it comes to characterization, Huxley is like a cataractous portrait artist who paints with a mop and roller. The inhabitants of the “Brave New World” are daubed with such broad, dull strokes that they are essentially mannequins modeling ideas rather than clothes. No character exhibits more than a single character trait, and that trait is always a contrivance. “But this goes hand-in-hand with Huxley’s message,” you say. “He’s trying to make a point.” Ugh! Perhaps, but…

Like all dime-store artists and intellectuals, Huxley goes for the generic and general over the specific and particular. Huxley’s sweeping generalizations capture none of the magic that makes each individual’s experience so unique, complex, and interesting; rather, they reduce human experiences to miniscule variations on simplistic, generic, and monotonous themes. As William Blake emphatically declared, “To Generalize is to be an Idiot” — this epithet fits Huxley to a “T”.

But, of course, Huxley’s muse traffics in pedantry, not poetry. And, without belaboring the point, Huxley’s socio-political broodings are uniformly and embarrassingly obtuse; and, his prognostications are no more prophetic than those contained in any horoscope. Regardless, I don’t care for socio-political theorizing in storybook form — it is both intellectually and artistically lame.

Another warning: Huxley’s penchant for linguistic costume jewelry will cause ardent lovers of language to wince repeatedly. Here is just one of Huxley’s extended witlesscisms: “while our Ford was still on earth”, “cleanliness is next to fordliness”, “Oh, for Ford’s sake”. God, Lord, Ford (as in Henry) — Get it! Get it! God help you if you’re amused.

“Brave New World” is so asinine and inartistic that it almost works as a parody of didactic literature. “Brave New World Revisited” shows that Huxley was not kidding, though. That Huxley was serious about his sophomoric ideas and silly writing provides some unintended and tangential humor, but only very little. Somewhat funnier is the fact that this book winds up in many literary “lists” and “canons”, which are themselves ridiculous, middlebrow gewgaws with slight and unintentional comic value. Final word: “Brave New World” is intellectually dull, artistically worthless, and more than a little kooky.

Highly recommended to those who vehemently disagree with me. Everyone else can safely skip it.

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~ by MorbidbookS, Extreme Fiction Publisher. on April 25, 2011.

2 Responses to “Burn, “Brave New World”, Burn”

  1. Wow, fantastic weblog layout! How lengthy have you been blogging for? you made running a blog look easy. The entire look of your web site is great, let alone the content!

    Like

    • Thank you so much, glad you like it! It seems that as a writer, I’m an excellent blogger. Oh well, it one hell of a lot more fun, that’s for sure.
      Please, for the love of all that’s holy … spread the word! 😉

      Like

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