Aldous Huxley

Brave New World (1932)

 

Aldous Huxley (1894-1963)

     Born in England and died in Los Angeles.

     Raised in a family of scientists, writers, and teachers.

     A major influence on Huxley’s life was an eye disease contracted in his teenage years that left him almost blind, preventing him from perusing his chosen career as a doctor.

     He died peacefully on November 22, 1963. Media coverage of his death was overshadowed by news of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, which occurred on the same day.

 

Brave New World (1932)

Dystopian novel set in London in 2540 (or AF 632)

Title comes from Miranda's speech in Shakespeare's The Tempest, Act V, Scene I:

"O wonder!

How many goodly creatures are there here!

How beautious mankind is!

O brave new world

That has such people in't!"

The World State is a utopian place. Humanity is carefree, healthy and technologically advanced. Warfare and poverty have been eliminated and everyone is permanently happy. The irony is that all of these things have been achieved by eliminating many things from which people currently derive happiness—family, cultural diversity, art, literature, science, religion, and philosophy. It is also a hedonistic society, deriving pleasure from promiscuous sex and drug use, especially the use of soma, a powerful stimulant taken to escape pain and bad memories through hallucinatory fantasies.

     Bernard Marx and Lenina Crowne take a trip to the Savage Reservation in New Mexico.

     Before he leaves, Bernard learns that the Director has taken a similar trip years ago and has lost the woman who went with him in the Reservation.

     Bernard finds John, the son of the woman, Linda, and takes him back to the World State where is becomes the center of attention.

     Resisting the World State, John eventually gives in, only to wake up the following morning feeling guilty and hangs himself.

 

Themes:

     The dangers of the state controlling powerful technology. (technologically controlled reproduction, creation of entertainment machines to enable stability, the use of soma to relive tension)

     The incompatibility of happiness and truth. The novel is full of characters who do everything they can to avoid the truth. The use of soma drug is one example explaining self-delusion. Soma drug clouds the realities of the present and replaces them with happy hallucinations.