Review: Brave New World

Monday, October 19th, 2020: Brave New World

INTRODUCTION Published in 1932, Brave New World is a chilling dystopian novel written by renowned author Aldous Huxley. This year, it became available digitally as a TV show adaptation (starring Jessica Brown Findlay, Alden Ehrenreich, and Harry Lloyd); the first episode aired on the 15th of July. “Sparkling, provocative, and brilliant,” the novel is widely regarded as one of the greatest works of literature – up there with The Great Gatsby – to emerge from the twentieth-century.

SUMMARY The reality of Brave New World details a futuristic technological paradise whose inhabitants live in a state of everlasting, uninterrupted bliss. Each individual is artificially conditioned to enjoy their social prestige, whatever that may be, at a young age – so a drudge tasked with the tedious, mind-numbing menial work would be just as happy as a World Controller. They regularly take large doses of soma, a medicinal drug of sorts that keeps them happy and pleasant to be around – artificially, of course. They frequently engage, too, in feelies, orgy-porgies, and unrestrained copulation – festivities pertaining to the kind of naughty content we aren’t going to cover here. In short, this “new world” is full of anything and everything that could possibly make its inhabitants happy.

The story introduces us to Bernard Marx, who appears to be the male protagonist. He’s an odd individual, cast out and often sidelined for his antisocial qualities and idiosyncrasy. He strikes a relationship with Lenina Crowne, a scientist working at the Central London Hatchery and Conditioning Center, and together they decide to visit the Native Reservation, home of the uncivilized people who hold the outdated, traditional values dear. During their stay, they meet John, a sprightly young man who grew up with these people. When they realize that he has, in fact, atavistic ties to the technologically advanced world, they offer to bring him back with them. Delighted at the prospect of modernity, John accepts and leaves the Reservation eagerly, and from then on the spotlight shifts from Bernard.

But when John arrives in London, he begins to discover that things are far less than ideal. What had been promised to be a technological paradise seems, to him, to resemble a barren, desolate land, devoid of morals, liberty, and all that he holds dear – a “paradise” that had long abandoned the pursuit of righteousness in exchange for collective merriment and social stability. And as his desire for a humane society conflicts with that of nearly everyone around him – the World Controllers, the mindless hedonists drugged heavily with soma – he begins to doubt everything he previously thought to be true, questioning even his own notions of morality.

REVIEW I would give this book a 10/10. The novel could very well be a warning for the future, picturing for us the characteristics of a society devoid of morality – a society far too consumed by the pursuit of technological development, stability, and collective happiness. It’s thought-provoking, and it begs the answers to questions carrying heavy impact for the future, now more than ever – namely, is collective happiness more important than liberty? What breaks the flow of social stability? And, perhaps most importantly, what constitutes an exemplary society?