A Review Of Huxley's Brave New World



Brave New World (1932) is one of the most insidious works of literature
ever written.
An exaggeration?
Tragically, no. Brave New World has come to serve as the false
symbol for any regime of universal happiness.

So how does Huxley turn a future where we're all notionally happy
into the archetypal dystopia? If it's technically feasible, what's wrong
with using biotechnology to get rid of mental pain altogether?

Brave New World is an unsettling, loveless and even sinister place.
This is because Huxley deliberately endows his "ideal" society with
features likely to alienate his audience. Typically, reading BNW elicits
disturbing feelings which the society it depicts ...

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of pain,
disease and unhappiness can be. If you think it does, then you enjoy an
enviably sheltered life and an enviably cosy imagination. For it's all
sugar-coated pseudo-realism.

In BNW, Huxley contrives to exploit the anxieties of his bourgeois
audience about both Soviet Communism and Fordist American capitalism. He
taps into, and then feeds, our revulsion at Pavlovian-style behavioural
conditioning and eugenics. Worse, it is suggested that the price of
universal happiness will be the sacrifice of the most hallowed shibboleths
of our culture: "motherhood", "home", "family", "freedom", even "love". The
exchange yields an insipid happiness that's unworthy of the name. Its
evocation arouses our unease and distaste.

In Brave New World, happiness derives from consuming mass-produced
goods, sport, promiscuous sex, "the feelies", and most famously of all, a
supposedly perfect pleasure-drug, soma.

As perfect pleasure-drugs go, soma underwhelms. It's not really ...

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biological nirvana soon in prospect, then he
could have envisaged utopian wonderdrugs which reinforced or enriched our
most cherished ideals. In our imaginations, perhaps we might have been
allowed - via chemically-enriched brave new worlders - to turn ourselves
into idealised versions of the sort of people we'd most like to be.
Behavioural conditioning, too, could have been used by the utopians to
sustain, rather than undermine, a more sympathetic ethos of civilised
society and a life well led. Likewise, biotechnology could have been
exploited in BNW to encode life-long fulfilment and super-intellects for
everyone - instead of manufacturing a rigid hierarchy of genetically-
preordained ...

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Added: 11/16/2006 01:37:46 AM
Category: Book Reports
Words: 4621
Pages: 17

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