Overview (No Spoilers):
My beautiful friend Stephanie, who is an incredibly talented English teacher, recommended A Brave New World to me years and years ago. For some reason or another this classic continually slid further and further down my reading list until it eventually found its way completely off my list. I’m rather sheepishly going to admit that I’d likely have not picked A Brave New World had my brother not added the title to my library hold list for me a couple of weeks ago. With that being said, I can’t believe it took me so long to have picked up this provocative, thought provoking book. I haven’t been able to stop pondering in what ways I’ve been unconsciously conditioned as a child. What opinions, feelings, or attachments do I have that harken back to some unrealized event in my past. Half way through listening to this book I had the epiphany that I would have to reread this book at some point in the near future to fully absorb everything that was happened and the implications throughout. In my spoiler section, I could go on for pages about the various concepts that stood out, however I’m going to pick and chose the ones that have continually nagged at me since finishing this novel. I’ve read countless novels at this point that are dystopian in nature, with the ones that stand out to me having creating unique literary realms. That being said A Brave New World is in a class of its own due to the level of innovative detail employed to bring to life this highly regulated new world and the quantity of science employed. Of course I’m bias with regard to that last aspect. Moreover, the astounding fact that A Brave New World was originally published in 1932 makes Huxley’s remarkable imagination all that more impressive. Overall, I can easily understand why this classic book is a popular title to be required reading in literature classes and should be a must read for any science fiction loving reader.
Additional Insight (Spoilers Abound):
- Bernard started out as our outcast however after finding John he became a celebrity, ultimately conforming to the society he had so loathed before. I hated seeing this regression, wanting him to snap back to his old self.
- I couldn’t believe the ending involved John committing suicide. The poor man didn’t fit into the culture he was raised in and didn’t fit into ‘civilization.’ The events leading up to the ending were rather confusing with John whipping Lenina somehow transitioning into a massive orgy with the crowd. I was shocked when the story abruptly ended, having to rewind to make sure I hadn’t missed something and the tale had indeed reached its conclusion.
- I have to say my favorite part of ABNW would have to be the introduction with the scientists leading the children through the laboratory, explaining the conditioning, learning, and philosophy behind their practices. While some of the concepts were especially cringe worthy, others such as sleep learning and conditioning were interesting to ponder.
- I enjoyed the character of Helmholtz who seemed like a bridge between the ‘savages’ and the ‘civilization,’ however it was apparent in the reading of Romeo and Juliet that he couldn’t quite break through all of his conditioning either.
- The concept of α, β, γ, and δ people as preordained, conditioned subsets was another uncomfortable aspect of this novel that is worth further examination. It is hard to imagine our world getting to a point in which we would abuse science in this manner. One thought I’d had while reading this novel was that if we were so advanced that we could manufacture humans of varying intellects, wouldn’t the robotic technologies in this dystopian world also be highly advanced?
- A reoccurring theme throughout this novel was the presence of the drug Soma. If anything became too difficult for the characters they would hide behind this numbing drug to get through the unfortunate situation. In what ways do we hide from troubles today?