Since it has been about a month since I last shared a book review I’ve decided it’s time to get my thinking cap on and share my thoughts with you on a previous read. When perusing through the list of books I’ve read I discovered that I hadn’t yet reviewed Brave New World by Aldous Huxley. I confess that my first thought was along the lines of ‘where do I even begin reviewing this?’. But, I’m going to do my best to do the book justice!
Since classic novels are typically taught in school I think a lot of people have the misconception that they’re going to be dry, dull or that no one in a million years would want to spend their free time reading them. After I left school I said the same thing. I have a whole host of opinions on how the education system doesn’t promote reading, but that’s for another day. However, they do need to be given their due. Classic novels can be great reads. I’ve even gone back to books that I read and hated at school and I enjoyed them. I wish they were given more of a chance, and if I were to suggest you pick up any, Brave New World is a great one to start with!
And, if you’re not sure, there is a TV series based on the book on Now TV. You could always give that a try first? Although it’s not 100% true to the book (but covers the main topics and concepts well), I still enjoyed it regardless!
Brave New World – Aldous Huxley
Brave New World is a dystopian novel by English author Aldous Huxley, written in 1931 and published in 1932. Largely set in a futuristic World State, inhabited by genetically modified citizens and an intelligence-based social hierarchy, the novel anticipates huge scientific advancements in reproductive technology, sleep-learning, psychological manipulation and classical conditioning that are combined to make a dystopian society that is challenged by only a single individual: the story’s protagonist.
Not only is the plot of Brave New World interesting, but it’s one of the shorter classic books I’ve read at just over 260 pages. This is why I think it’s a great place to start; it’s not intimidating and it has plenty to offer despite the reduced page count.
Some of the undoubtedly futuristic elements in Brave New World (considering it was published in 1932) are not so wild in the present day. One of the groundbreaking elements of the book is that humans are not born traditionally, but are genetically modified for desirable qualities, fertilised in vitro and are effectively incubated until birth. Whilst we don’t exactly have a designer baby thing going on, treatments such as IVF are now available and can involve an element of this.
Equally, the clinical aspect of birth control was in its infancy in the 1930s. Yes, for thousands of years there have been home remedies and techniques to prevent it. Even giving birth control advice was only allowed in Britain in 1930. It’s strange to consider because prescriptions for it now are so commonplace.
I find it fascinating to compare the ideas that authors had decades ago as to what was futuristic to them at the time and what similar theories we as a society have now about the next few decades. What I wonder the most about is whether the ideas written by these authors have given birth to the reality, or whether they did have an inkling of human capabilities and technological advancements that were within reach of mankind. Kind of like the chicken and egg argument.
There may be similarities between the societies of Brave New World and the modern-day, but there are also very distinct differences. For example, Brave New World has a completely different social class system, based on intelligence, to the one we used to. Citizens are effectively controlled by the use of ‘feel-good’ drugs and activities. There is no such thing as sadness or lack of purpose. Everybody has their role and they fulfil it to the best of their ability. They don’t have to think, they just have to do as they’re told. On the surface that might sound good, but I think it would be hell.
I’ve read plenty of other reviews that suggest this is a good read for anyone who has or has suffered from depression. It emphasises the point that feeling good all the time isn’t where it’s at. To appreciate the highs, sometimes you need to take the lows that go with it. And I can see that. It makes sense. If you always had the same thing you have nothing to compare it against.
Have you ever read Brave New World? Would you recommend it or would you be prepared to read it based on recommendation? As always, you can let me know in the comments or via social media.