Book in Review: "A Brave New World"

Imagine a world where everything is perfect. A world where there is no anxiety and no fear. A society where everyone fits perfectly into their predestined jobs that they have been modified and conditioned to perform. Every person slots in comfortably into their genetically engineered communities. Gone is that oh so inconvenient “old age.” Risk, struggle, and pain are thankfully archaic elements of the forgotten past. Gone are the antiquated institutions of marriage and family. Absent is that oppressive crutch of religion. Sexuality is the primary inalienable right.

And for those moments that do not go as planned. Not to worry. Pop in a gram or two of the drug "soma", and the rapturous equilibrium will return.

This is a Brave New World.

Huxley’s tale follows the course of a curiously dissatisfied and empty Alpha who finds the “Savage” (John), someone who has grown up on a reservation isolated from this new “civilized world.” What follows is a brutal clash of worldview and culture as John (perhaps representing the old world – us) confronts the horrors of the modern perfection.

To be frank the overall account is not an enjoyable read. Like most dystopian works written in a similar vein, it is morbid, tragic, and depressing. Stylistically, A Brave New World is not of the type that I prefer. Huxley writes with a flowery abruptness that leaves many questions unanswered, but perhaps that was his intent.

That is not to say what is written is unimportant. Huxley’s dystopian society is one that is not only intellectually stimulating, but feels unnervingly prophetic. His futuristic world draws parallels to a modern western society that increasingly bows down to the idols of self and pleasure; a world that has nothing to die for and, conversely, finds nothing to live for. There is no past, there is no future. Just the hedonistic present.

Perhaps it is the growing prominence of these parallels that makes A Brave New World so disconcerting.

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