I did not expect to enjoy this book as I am not a fan of science fiction, however, I truly enjoyed Huxley’s visionary tale and talent for storytelling. As a reader, there was a sense that this cautionary tale could be related to as easily today as it was nearly 80 years ago.
You could feel the author’s contempt for England and its caste systems as well as for Ford and the industrial revolution throughout the book. The whole concept of who and what is considered civilized was an interesting debate and that he used (Native) American Indians as the people deemed as thoroughly uncivilized was surely his condemnation of their treatment by the early American settlers.
I believe Huxley’s own medical crises preventing him from following in his father’s footsteps as a doctor left him feeling like the outsiders he portrays in Brave New World; John, Bernard Marx and Helmholtz Watson. He was likely able to step back and see the effects of class that many of the privileged do not take notice of.
There was great dialogue in the book and some quotes worth noting are below:
“…Actually happiness always looks pretty squalid in comparison with the overcompensations for misery.”
“But I don’t want comfort. I want God. I want poetry. I want real danger. I want freedom. I want goodness. I want sin.”
“In fact.” said Mustapha Mond. “you’re claiming the right to be unhappy.”
The story was thought provoking, however, I felt the confrontation with John and Mustapha Mond was a tad too preachy. Throghout the book there were more than enough subtleties to let the reader know how the author felt so I felt a bit beat upon in chapter 17 as though Huxley wanted a last chance to preach to his audience. He needn’t fret, as he had made his points quite clearly.
I’d like to sit down with Aldous, but I’d prefer to meet his “savage” peronsa John, not the insecure Bernard, mopey Helmholtz or preachy Mustapha. We’d likely disagree, but that would be the icing on the cake.
My rating for Brave New World is a 9 out of 10.
Check out Modern Library’s 100 Best Novels to see the entire list.