Book Title: Brave New World
Author: Aldous Huxley
Original Publication Date: 1932
Edition Read: Harper Perennial Modern Classics, 1998
Total Pages: 268
Genre: Classic Sci-Fi
Reason Read: Read with a group on Goodreads
Rating: 3 out of 5 Stars
“And if ever, by some unlucky chance, anything unpleasant should somehow happen, why, there’s always soma to give you a holiday from the facts. And there’s always soma to calm your anger, to reconcile you to your enemies, to make you patient and long-suffering. In the past you could only accomplish these things by making a great effort and after years of hard moral training. Now, you swallow two or three half-gramme tablets, and there you are. Anybody can be virtuous now. You can carry at least half your morality about in a bottle. Christianity without tears—that’s what soma is.” ~ Chapter 17
Brave New World is not my typical book of choice. Sci-fi/futuristic/dystopian. But it is also a Classic and since a Goodreads group I belong to voted to read it for discussion, I stepped outside of my reading box.
It took a while for the story to draw me in – facts of the world in the future were presented without any characters sharing the frame of mind the reader would have about the wrongness of the way things had developed. And then the middle part seemed to be way more concerned with debauchery, though we slowly were introduced to our heroic character to pull for. And then in the end, this character spoke for us, and this was when I enjoyed things the most.
Brave New World appears to be an examination of what happens when mankind gets so concerned with stability that the government controls the perception of happiness and progress. There is no free will or independent thinking – but no one cares or is upset by this because they are bred/manufactured to serve a specific role and are conditioned from conception to accept it and nothing more. Genetic slavery – without all the emotion.
When a “Savage” (born of a civilized woman who became lost in the restricted Native sections still left in the world) is discovered and brought into civilization for research and examination, his voice is the only one of dissent and horror. So through him the author, Huxley, espouses on politics, religion, sexuality, and the true meaning of happiness – freedom of personal choice. These passages are written wonderfully and provide plenty of food for thought.
The book was written in 1931 and it does not come across as out of touch or too dated. It is more powerful because of how believable a version of such a terrible false utopia could actually occur someday.
All in all, an interesting and disturbing journey through the de-volution of humanity. 4.5 stars for the last third – only 3 for the first two thirds. Overall a 3 – but with more involved analysis of the themes, I may improve that rating.