Book Review — Brave New World
“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”
“All right then,” said the Savage defiantly, “I am claiming the right to be unhappy”
This is the response of John Savage to the Resident World Controller for Western Europe, Mustapha Ford. John Savage was a man from another society, in a reserve in New Mexico, in America; plucked out with his mother who use to belong to this so-called utopian world, twenty years before and all John knew from his mother’s stories, she called the Other Place. John’s education and literacy comes mostly from an old copy of The Complete Works of William Shakespeare. I would say reading that alone made him more intelligent than the inhabits of the Other Place. It would help him prepare for the cultural shock he was about to encounter.
John would dislike this world for the same reasons I disliked it. Centuries in the future, this is a world where humans are not born in the natural way, but are engineered. Engineered where there are classes, classes assigned, no, predestined to work for the stability of society. A society that is conditioned to be happy. Everyone is conditioned. No fear of death, diseases have been eliminated and after reaching thirty years, of age you no longer grow old. All your sexual desires were met; everybody belonged to everybody. As babies are genetically engineered, there are in their view, no disgusting concepts of ‘mother’ or ‘father’.
Materially, you want for nothing, and few have possessions anyway. People are utterly unaware of history, of poetry, and literature which all still exist and is preserved but is forever restricted and would have little meaning and would be irrelevant for anyone if they were able to read it. When one feels such things as anger, sadness you just take the feely available but rationed drug Soma, then you have not a care in the world. It is also dispensed so no one would even think of rebelling. So, there would be no wars, no violence, no creativity, or love, or God. People in this society would be utterly miserable without Soma and this is a world where you will be happy!
For their whole lives they didn’t know they were not free, being controlled by elite oligarchs. The fact they have no liberty, and they probably wouldn’t want it if they did is what makes this book disturbing. It would be the worst of totalitarian society imaginable. At least in a communist country, like the old Soviet Union you know you are under a bad government. You could obtain banned literature like the Bible. You could go to an underground church, at the risk of imprisoned or worse to attend Mass, and have access to the sacraments of Confession and receive the Eucharist. Yet not in Huxley’s nightmare world. It is a world, so terrible that while you get what you want. You don’t even get the luxury of being bored or weary of pleasure.
Brave New World was published in 1932. I read people who read the book have a better understanding of it today, especially in the post sexual revolution where in the West. The saturated sex-obsessed society was one of the things apparently Aldous Huxley feared when he first wrote the book. Are we heading in this direction? One must remember it is satire and imaginary as George Orwell’s gloomy world of Nineteen-eighty-four, published in 1948. At least in Orwell’s world you know you are not free, and risking oneself to find a Catholic Mass might be possible. If I had to choose between Huxley or Orwell’s vision of the future, I would go for George Orwell any day; while Big Brother and the Ministry of Love’s Thought Police are constantly watching, the human spirit, the Gospel could prevail, whereupon in Aldous Huxley world, there would be less hope because the society blissfully unaware of God. For them, God is thus substituted for Ford, after the car manufacture Henry T. Ford because of his famous Model T Ford automobile. So thus, the Christian cross is replaced with T. They most certainly would what God or His Son in their lives anyway. Yes, both worlds are to some extent imaginary and exaggerated, yet they serve to us as a warning. Imagine a world without soul. For me, Huxley’s world would be hell on earth.
Author: Aldous Huxley
Minimum Age: 16+
Type of Book: Fiction
Book Length: 259
Published: 1932 (2006 Harper Perennial Modern Classics)
Note: This book review is from Carl Strehlow, a valued member of Coffin Nation.
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