Brave New World

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Overview

Huxley´s vision of the future in his astonishing 1931 novel Brave New World -- a world of tomorrow in which capitalist civilization has been reconstituted through the most efficient scientific and psychological engineering, where the people are genetically designed to be passive, consistently useful to the ruling class.
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Brave New World

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Overview

Huxley´s vision of the future in his astonishing 1931 novel Brave New World -- a world of tomorrow in which capitalist civilization has been reconstituted through the most efficient scientific and psychological engineering, where the people are genetically designed to be passive, consistently useful to the ruling class.
Read More Show Less

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
“A brilliant tour de force . . . Full of barbed wit and malice-spiked frankness . . . Provoking, stimulating, shocking and dazzling.” —THE OBSERVER
 
“Ingenious wit, derisive logic and swiftness of expression . . . Huxley’s resources of sardonic invention have never been more brilliantly displayed.” —THE TIMES (LONDON)
 
“The Utopia to end Utopias.” —THE NEW YORK TIMES
 
“An exuberant playground for ideas . . . Brave New World (like Nineteen Eighty-Four) is a novel part of whose instinctive horror is generated by the fact that it foresees a world where novels are no longer possible . . . Brave New World presents itself as a measure of what would be lost in the brave new world of AF 632. No more novels, no more Huxleys. A darker than dark age is coming . . . In the meanwhile Brave New World remains the most readable of grumpy dystopias.”
—from the Introduction by John Sutherland
 
 
 
Forum Staff
A fantastic racy narrative, full of much excellent satire and literary horseplay.
Saturday Review of Literature
Mr. Huxley is eloquent in his declaration of an artist's faith in man, and it is his eloquence, bitter in attack, noble in defense, that, when one has closed the book, one remembers.
New York Times Book Review
Huxley uses his erudite knowledge of human relations to compare our actual world with his prophetic fantasy of 1931. It is a frightening experience, indeed, to discover how much of his satirical prediction of a distant future became reality in so short a time.
Library Journal
Gr 8 Up-Brave New World by Aldous Huxley is a classic science fiction work that continues to be a significant warning to our society today. Tony Britton, the reader, does an excellent job of portraying clinical detachment as the true nature of the human incubators is revealed. The tone lightens during the vacation to the wilderness and the contrast is even more striking. Each character is given a separate personality by Britton's voices. As the story moves from clinical detachment to the human interest of Bernard, the nonconformist, and John, the "Savage," listeners are drawn more deeply into the plot. Finally, the reasoned tones of the Controller explain away all of John's arguments against the civilization, leading to John's death as he cannot reconcile his beliefs to theirs.The abridgement is very well done, and the overall message of the novel is clearly presented. The advanced vocabulary and complex themes lend themselves to class discussion and further research. There is sure to be demand for this classic in schools and public libraries.-Pat Griffith, Schlow Memorial Library, State College, PA Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information.
Staff Forum
A fantastic racy narrative, full of much excellent satire and literary horseplay.
Pat Griffith
Grade 8 Up-Brave New World by Aldous Huxley is a classic science fiction work that continues to be a significant warning to our society today. Tony Britton, the reader, does an excellent job of portraying clinical detachment as the true nature of the human incubators is revealed. The tone lightens during the vacation to the wilderness and the contrast is even more striking. Each character is given a separate personality by Britton's voices. As the story moves from clinical detachment to the huma
Unknown Commentator
"Community, Identity, Stability" is the motto of Aldous Huxley's utopian World State. Here everyone consumes daily grams of soma, to fight depression, babies are born in laboratories, and the most popular form of entertainment is a "Feelie," a movie that stimulates the senses of sight, hearing, and touch. Though there is no violence and everyone is provided for, Bernard Marx feels something is missing and senses his relationship with a young women has the potential to be much more than the confi
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780375712364
  • Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 9/24/2013
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 280
  • Sales rank: 157,151
  • Product dimensions: 5.34 (w) x 8.38 (h) x 0.86 (d)

Meet the Author

Aldous Huxley (1894-1963) was an English writer and editor of Oxford Poetry. He interests included parapsychology and philosophical mysticism, and he is known in many academic circles as a leader of modern thought. He is the recipient of both the James Tait Black Memorial Prize and the Companion of Literature by the Royal Society of Literature. His many works include Brave New World, Themes and Variations, and The Genius and the Goddess.

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Read an Excerpt

Excerpted from the Introduction

INTRODUCTION
____

"With war in Asia, bankruptcy in Europe and starvation everywhere, what do you suppose Aldous Huxley is now worrying about? Too much happiness."

(Disgruntled reviewer of Brave New World )

Brave New World is not strictly a novel of ideas in terms of Philip Quarles’s much-quoted definition in Huxley’s Point Counter Point: ‘the character of each personage must be implied, as far as possible, in the ideas of which he is a mouthpiece’. As in much satire and science fiction, the characters in Brave New World have little ‘character’, as such. But the novel is an exuberant playground for ideas, the bulk of them dropped in raw from the author’s recent, voracious, reading. Brave New World is also a prime vindication of the veteran science-fiction writer Brian Aldiss’s argument that his genre is rarely ‘prophetic’ – a forecast (accurate or inaccurate) of the future. It is, typically, Aldiss argues, ‘prodromic’.2 That is, SF and dys/u/topian fiction is symptomatic of the present in which it is written. Or, to put it equationally, 1984 = 1948 And Huxley’s novel is similarly more concerned with AD 1932 than far-off AF 632, when the action of Brave New World is ostensibly set. It was, in its day, a novel of the day.

Brave New World is also a highly argumentative novel. Throughout Huxley picks intellectual fights. Three of the fights are central:

1. Huxley versus Henry Ford
2. Huxley versus D. H. Lawrence
3. Huxley versus ‘the Jazz Age’

First, what literary debts does Huxley owe? There are many but the only one he acknowledged was to H. G. Wells whose Men Like Gods (1923) Brave New World specifically controverts (or whose ‘leg it pulls’, as he put it).3 Huxley objected to the conflictless nature of Wells’s utopia, inhabited as it exclusively was by Aò specimens of humanity. But despite his proclaimed differences with Wells, Huxley took over from the other author the idea of the supranational world state and its Controllers’ Council (both writers were inspired by the recently set up League of Nations). It was very much a vision of the time and the time’s thinkers were in two minds as to whether superstates were a good thing or not. We’re still in two minds (viz. the recent fierce pro-and-con ‘debates’, currently raging as I write, over the European Union).

In an essay in Tribune in January 1946, George Orwell inferred that Huxley ‘must have come into contact (presumably via French translation) with Yevgeni Zamyatin’s anti-Soviet-totalitarian We (Nous Autres)’. This source seems unlikely, or not as important as Orwell thought (he was currently meditating Nineteen Eighty-Four which is very derivative of We). Brave New World’s strongest pedigree line seems to ascend via Wells’s The Sleeper Awakes (1910) to the nineteenth-century socialist fables of Edward Bellamy and William Morris. But Huxley was strongly antipathetic to the politics of Fabian utopianists like Wells and George Bernard Shaw (‘one of the very few writers whose works have been permitted to come down to us’, as the D.H.C. (Director of Hatcheries and Conditioning) piously notes in Brave New World). He was equally opposed to what Daniel Kevles has called ‘Reform Eugenics’5 – those who believed that society could be improved by human breeding programmes. But Huxley nevertheless borrowed plot devices from all his opponents. Call it eclecticism.6 No novel carries the sign ‘plot-lifters will be prosecuted’. Huxley is a great pilferer. Forgivable because he invariably improves what he pilfers.

A number of commentators have noted Huxley’s manifest indebtedness in Brave New World to Bertrand Russell’s popular treatise, The Scientific Outlook (1931) which was published almost exactly at the moment Huxley began writing (his biographer, Sybille Bedford, records that he began work on Brave New World in April 1931 and completed it between May and August of that year). Philip Thody, in a jaundiced review, asserted that ‘so much of Brave New World resembles The Scientific Outlook that one wonders at times if Huxley put any original ideas at all into the book’.

Thody is too hard. But Huxley clearly plundered Chapter 15 of Russell’s book, ‘Education in a Scientific Age’. Russell here departs from his expository mode (he was an incorrigible pontificator) to try his arm at a satirical prophecy about the socially engineered and class stratified society of the scientifically managed future. Children, he predicts, will be conditioned ‘some time before birth’ (by ‘thermal treatment of the embryo’) for their station in life. Manual workers (like Huxley’s Epsilons) ‘will be discouraged from serious thought and in general will be bred for patience and muscle rather than brain’. The society of the scientific future will be tranquillized by ‘new forms of drunkenness’ (i.e. ‘Soma’ in Brave New World ).8 The only problem in this perfect world state will be ‘the psychology of the governors’ (i.e. disruptive Alpha-pluses, like Bernard Marx in Brave New World ).

If there were patent-protection in fictional scenarios any lawyer would have taken Russell’s case. The whole framework of Brave New World is to be found in the fifteenth chapter of The Scientific Outlook. But the two writers’ conclusions are strikingly different. Huxley’s narrative ends with the demonstration of the scientific state’s invincibility. John Savage is dead. Helmholtz and Bernard are banished to where they can do no harm. Russell – having mischievously sketched out his scientific utopia – concludes that it would ultimately be destroyed by its own repressed libido and humanity’s invincible irrationality.

HUXLEY VERSUS HENRY FORD

The epigraph to Brave New World is taken from the Russian religious philosopher Nicolas Berdiaeff and his assertion that ‘les utopies sont re ́alisables’. Utopia, in other (English) words, is nigh.9 Other fabulists were more telescopic in their visions. Social perfection, for them, was far from nigh. Bernard Shaw, for instance, in Back to Methuselah (1921) conceived of human apotheosis – but some thirty million years in the future. In Last and First Men (1930) Olaf Stapledon foresees the end of evolution some two billion years hence. By contrast Brave New World is set in ‘AF’ (i.e. ‘After Ford’) 632. Given Henry Ford’s birth in 1863 this means a narrative time setting of AD 2495 – virtually the day after tomorrow in SF’s cosmic chronologies.

At the leviathan level of global-scientific organization there are two principal tools used by the masters in Brave New World. The most powerful is ‘Control’, as opposed to ‘Government’. At this period of his life Huxley was a student and disciple of Pareto’s General Sociology. He pays glowing tribute to the philosopher in the preface to Proper Studies (1927), the only thorough and extended exercise in social theory he ever wrote (in it he says, ‘the author to whom I owe the most is Vilfredo Pareto’). In Pareto’s model the state eventually comes to be ruled not by ‘lions’ – dictators, that is, possessed of brute force – but by ‘foxes’. Foxes operate by secret manipulation and guile. They are men without idealism, or ideology, interested only in management. Keeping the show on the road.

Brave New World is run by ten such ‘World Controllers’. Their rule, as evident in the final judgements on John Savage, Bernard Marx and Helmholtz Watson, is cynical but benign in a vulpine kind of way. They use their principal instruments of control – ectogenesis (babies bred in bottles), hypnopaedia (sleep teaching), Pavlovian conditioning, tranquillizing Soma – for the good of the population as the Controllers conceive that good.
Like many European intellectuals of the day (notably Shaw), Huxley in 1931 attributed epic historical significance to Benito Mussolini, Il Duce, as the manifestation in political action of Pareto’s theory. In Brave New World, for all their faults, the World Controllers contrive to keep the intercontinental passenger rockets running on time, as Il Duce reputedly did the Italian trains.

The second tool for social control in Huxley’s dystopia is the universal application of the principles of ‘Fordism’. Whereas the workings of Pareto’s pervasive management machine are necessarily hidden from the duped subjects of Brave New World (who perceive only a ‘natural’ state of things, based on the proverbial ‘common sense’ they absorb hypnopaedically at night), Ford (‘Good Ford!’) has been elevated to the status of a deity. His My Life and Work (1922) is (hilariously) a biblical text. ‘T’ is as sacred a sign as the cross was two millennia ago.

By means of the Pareto and Ford apparatus, and with an ensemble of practical techniques furnished by modern science, a great stasis is envisaged in Brave New World. The biological motor of evolution has been stilled. And, at the level of human organization, democracy has been similarly ‘turned off’. The state, the nation, the individual have withered and been replaced by the benevolent assembly line, which imposes its own caste hierarchy, yields surplus value (‘comfort’ in Huxley’s lexicon), creates consumers for its products, absorbs energy without exhaustion. It is a system sans entropy. Time, to borrow another of Huxley’s titles, has found its stop.

Brave New World opens with a twisted Genesis, a trip conducted by its Director round the Central London Hatchery and Conditioning Centre in Bloomsbury. (The choice of site is sly, given the Bloomsburyites’ – Virginia Woolf, E. M. Forster, Lytton Strachey, et al. – skittishness about physical sex.) In terms of narrative this opening is a fairly crude expository device (the tour d’horizon) of the kind ‘new world’ fiction is routinely obliged to resort to. But Huxley is an agile narrator and his precious tone (half Stracheyan belletrist, half Woolfian stream of consciousness)11 disdains by manner the barbarism it describes.

Commentators have suggested that Huxley is indebted for the ectogenesis gimmick (‘babies in bottles’) to J. B. S. Haldane and his essay-cum-fable Daedalus, or Science and the Future (1924)  Huxley, however, can claim priority for the idea. As early as 1922, in Crome Yellow, Mr Scogan outlines his vision of the future ‘Rational State’ in which mankind will be procreated from ‘gravid bottles’ in state incubators.

Huxley, whose mind was magnetically drawn to grand syntheses, combines a whole bundle of other innovatory techniques in his depiction of the future ‘educational’ (i.e. ‘control’) system. In vitro, the foetus, according to its grade, is subjected to ‘hard’ x-rays to retard or damage its development. Radiation-induced gene-mutation by the controlled application of x-rays was first demonstrated by Herman Müller in 1927.  Huxley’s ‘Bokanovsky’ budding (i.e. cloning) process is a literary invention (at the time) as is the slyly named ‘Podsnap technique’ (after Dickens’s arch-hypocrite).

Once born, Brave New World infants are ‘conditioned’ on neo-Pavlovian lines, so as to fit the predestined roles society has planned for them. Mothers and fathers are obscene anachronisms. Huxley alludes, here, to Anatoly Lunacharsky, the People’s Commissar for Education (1917–29) and his programme to replace the ‘bourgeois’ family by the modern Soviet state. More directly, Huxley took his ideas about conditioning from the American J. B. Watson’s Behaviorism (1924, revised 1930). Watson’s confidence in his power to predestine children is scarcely exaggerated by Huxley’s satire. ‘Give me a dozen healthy children’, Watson wrote, ‘well-formed and my own specified world to bring them up in’:

and I’ll guarantee to take any one at random and train him to become any type of specialist I might select – doctor, lawyer, artist, merchant-chief, and yes, even beggar-man and thief – regardless of his talents, penchants, abilities, vocations, and race of his ancestors.

Youngsters in Brave New World are ‘taught’ largely by hypnopaedia, an idea which Huxley took from Pavlov’s writings on the subject. The notion of sleep-learning, the nocturnal voice in the sleeping ear, is elegantly at home in Brave New World, combining as it does passive consumerism with subliminal control.

In their daylight school-time the children of Brave New World indulge in de-repressive sexual play. We encounter them doing this in the chaste surroundings of what Huxley’s contemporaries would have recognized as Coram’s Fields – the best known children’s refuge in London (adults are not allowed in unless, as the signs say, ‘accompanied by a child’). Huxley had in mind Bertrand Russell’s scandalous Beacon Hill school, founded in 1927. As R. W. Clark recalls in his biography of Russell (1976):

The sexual freedom of the school was a subject of constant prurient amazement. The children were allowed to remove all their clothes in the summer if they wished to, especially for outdoor dancing and exercise. Special sex instruction was never required, since fundamentals were incorporated in biology lessons.

Compare the opening of Chapter 3 of Brave New World:


Outside, in the garden, it was playtime. Naked in the warm June sunshine, six or seven hundred little boys and girls were running with shrill yells over the lawns, or playing ball games, or squatting silently in twos and threes among the flowering shrubs. The roses were in bloom, two nightingales soliloquized in the boskage, a cuckoo was just going out of tune among the lime trees. The air was drowsy with the murmur of bees and helicopters.

The flaw in Huxley’s vision in Brave New World is the consolidation he assumes between eugenics, obstetrics, psychoanalysis, behavioural psychology, biology, pedagogy and so on. The tendency of scientific thought is schismatic and self-protectively compartmental. It is not collaborative by instinct; just the opposite. Pavlovians, Fordians, and Freudians are as likely to join forces as lions and lambs to lie down together. In the Hatchery, the eugenists work in the basement and their ‘colleagues’ upstairs do the conditioning, in an atmosphere of harmony. In the real world Watson’s theory of Behaviourism was polemically directed against the hated heresies of the eugenists. He would no more have teamed up with them, as happens in Brave New World, than he would have joined up with a circus hypnotist. The totalitarianism which Huxley depicts depends on a wholly improbable alliance of scientific schools and disciplines. What it reflects is less the future of civilization than the extraordinarily jackdaw quality of Huxley’s mind.

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Table of Contents

Foreword
Brave new world 3
Foreword 5
Brave new world revisited 233
Foreword 235
I Over-population 237
II Quantity, quality, morality 248
III Over-organization 251
IV Propaganda in a democratic society 262
V Propaganda under a dictatorship 269
VI The arts of selling 277
VII Brainwashing 287
VIII Chemical persuasion 296
IX Subconscious persuasion 304
X Hypnopaedia 311
XI Education for freedom 321
XII What can be done? 332
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First Chapter

Brave New World and Brave New World Revisited

Chapter One

A squat grey building of only thirty-four stories. Over the main entrance the words, Central London Hatchery and Conditioning Centre, and, in a shield, the World State's motto, Community, Identity, Stability.

The enormous room on the ground floor faced towards the north. Cold for all the summer beyond the panes, for all the tropical heat of the room itself, a harsh thin light glared through the windows, hungrily seeking some draped lay figure, some pallid shape of academic goose-flesh, but finding only the glass and nickel and bleakly shining porcelain of a laboratory. Wintriness responded to wintriness. The overalls of the workers were white, their hands gloved with a pale corpse-coloured rubber. The light was frozen, dead, a ghost. Only from the yellow barrels of the microscopes did it borrow a certain rich and living substance, lying along the polished tubes like butter, streak after luscious streak in long recession down the work tables.

"And this," said the Director opening the door, "is the Fertilizing Room."

Bent over their instruments, three hundred Fertilizers were plunged, as the Director of Hatcheries and Conditioning entered the room, in the scarcely breathing silence, the absent-minded, so-liloquizing hum or whistle, of absorbed concentration. A troop of newly arrived students, very young, pink and callow, followed nervously, rather abjectly, at the Director's heels. Each of them carried a notebook, in which, whenever the great man spoke, he desperately scribbled. Straight from the horse's mouth. It was a rare privilege. The D.H.C. for Central London always made a point of personally conducting his new students round the various departments.

"Just to give you a general idea," he would explain to them. For of course some sort of general idea they must have, if they were to do their work intelligently -- though as little of one, if they were to be good and happy members of society, as possible. For particulars, as every one knows, make for virtue and happiness; generalities are intellectually necessary evils. Not philosophers but fretsawyers and stamp collectors compose the backbone of society.

"Tomorrow," he would add, smiling at them with a slightly menacing geniality, "you'll be settling down to serious work. You won't have time for generalities. Meanwhile ... "

Meanwhile, it was a privilege. Straight from the horse's mouth into the notebook. The boys scribbled like mad.

Tall and rather thin but upright, the Director advanced into the room. He had a long chin and big rather prominent teeth, just covered, when he was not talking, by his full, floridly curved lips. Old, young? Thirty? Fifty? Fifty-five? It was hard to say. And anyhow the question didn't arise; in this year of stability, a.f. 632, it didn't occur to you to ask it.

"I shall begin at the beginning," said the D.H.C. and the more zealous students recorded his intention in their notebooks: Begin at the beginning. "These," he waved his hand, "are the incubators." And opening an insulated door he showed them racks upon racks of numbered test-tubes. "The week's supply of ova. Kept," he explained, "at blood heat; whereas the male gametes," and here he opened another door, "they have to be kept at thirty-five instead of thirty-seven. Full blood heat sterilizes." Rams wrapped in theremogene beget no lambs.

Still leaning against the incubators he gave them, while the pencils scurried illegibly across the pages, a brief description of the modern fertilizing process; spoke first, of course, of its surgical introduction -- "the operation undergone voluntarily for the good of Society, not to mention the fact that it carries a bonus amounting to six months' salary"; continued with some account of the technique for preserving the excised ovary alive and actively developing; passed on to a consideration of optimum temperature, salinity, viscosity; referred to the liquor in which the detached and ripened eggs were kept; and, leading his charges to the work tables, actually showed them how this liquor was drawn off from the test-tubes; how it was let out drop by drop onto the specially warmed slides of the microscopes; how the eggs which it contained were inspected for abnormalities, counted and transferred to a porous receptacle; how (and he now took them to watch the operation) this receptacle was immersed in a warm bouillon containing free-swimming spermatozoa -- at a minimum concentration of one hundred thousand per cubic centimetre, he insisted; and how, after ten minutes, the container was lifted out of the liquor and its contents reexamined; how, if any of the eggs remained unfertilized, it was again immersed, and, if necessary, yet again; how the fertilized ova went back to the incubators; where the Alphas and Betas remained until definitely bottled; while the Gammas, Deltas and Epsilons were brought out again, after only thirty-six hours, to unde rgo Bokanovsky's Process.

"Bokanovsky's Process," repeated the Director, and the students underlined the words in their little notebooks.

One egg, one embryo, one adult -- normality. But a bokanovskified egg will bud, will proliferate, will divide. From eight to ninetysix buds, and every bud will grow into a perfectly formed embryo, and every embryo into a full-sized adult. Making ninety-six human beings grow where only one grew before. Progress.

"Essentially," the D.H.C. concluded, "bokanovskification consists of a series of arrests of development. We check the normal growth and, paradoxically enough, the egg responds by budding."

Responds by budding. The pencils were busy.

He pointed. On a very slowly moving band a rack-full of testtubes was entering a large metal box, another rack-full was emerging. Machinery faintly purred. It took eight minutes for the tubes to go through, he told them. Eight minutes of hard X-rays being about as much as an egg can stand. A few died; of the rest, the least susceptible divided into two; most put out four buds; some eight; all were returned to the incubators, where the buds began to develop; then, after two days, were suddenly chilled, chilled and checked ...

Brave New World and Brave New World Revisited. Copyright © by Aldous Huxley. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.
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Reading Group Guide

Plot Summary

In Brave New World Aldous Huxley conjures up a horrifying, but often comic, vision of a future Utopia in which humans are processed, conditioned, regimented, and drugged into total social conformity. The story, set in a futuristic London, focuses on the misadventures of Bernard Marx. Disaffected with the regimentation of society, Bernard and his girlfriend, Lenina, visit the American Southwest where Native Americans are permitted to live in an "uncivilized" state. There they come upon a fair-skinned young man named John, who turns out to be the son of a Londoner, and Bernard brings John back to "civilized" London.

For a while, the "Savage" creates a sensation. Eventually the Savage becomes increasingly horrified by the "brave new world" and retreats into reading Shakespeare's plays. The Savage has fallen passionately in love with Lenina, but has convinced himself that any sexual contact between them would be a grievous sin--a stance that completely baffles Lenina who has been conditioned to enjoy promiscuous sex without any emotional commitment. In despair, the Savage precipitates a riot. Bernard is exiled for his participation and the Savage holes up in an abandoned lighthouse, where he grows food and mortifies his flesh as penance for his lust for Lenina. In the end, reporters discover the Savage and photograph his bizarre rituals of self-flagellation. A nightly carnival ensues as swarms of London curiosity seekers come to witness the antics of this strange creature. Finally the Savage, in shame and desperation, hangs himself.

Discussion Topics

1. Few ofHuxley's predictions have proven to be perfectly accurate, yet many aspects of the Utopia of Brave New World feel uncomfortably like our world. Talk about the book as a prophetic vision of the future. Which aspects of the book did you find most disturbing? Which hit closest to home? Which seem the most far-fetched?

2. When Brave New World was first published in 1932, the world was plunged in depression, fascism was on the rise in Western Europe, and Marxism appealed to increasing numbers of intellectuals in Europe and America. Place the book in the context of its historical moment. Which parts transcend its time and place?

3. The two greatest obscenities in the society of Brave New World are birth and mother. Why?

4. Toward the end of the book, the Controller Mustapha Mond sums up the benefits of living in the "brave new world" Utopia: "The world's stable now. People are happy; they get what they want, and they never want what they can't get." It sounds like perfection, and yet the world Mond describes is deeply, intentionally horrifying. Why? What exactly is so bad about this society of the future? Is there anything good about it, anything we could learn from and try to adapt to our own uses?

5. As dehumanizing and oppressive as the brave new world Utopia is, the alternative in the "savage reserve" is in many ways worse - dirty, violent, unhealthy, cruel, uncomfortable. What point is Huxley making about human nature and the nature of human communities? Is his vision totally negative - or does the book hold out some shred of hope, some alternative mode that fosters both freedom and community?

6. One of the most striking - and comic - aspects of Huxley's Utopia is the way our sexual mores and assumptions have been turned on their head: monogamy is bad, passion is deviation, casual, meaningless sex is the socially approved norm. What is Huxley getting at here? Is there any expression of human sexuality that he finds acceptable? Is sex at the heart of the "problem" in his view of human nature?

7. Talk about the morality of the book. Is it a Christian morality? Socialist? Anarchist?

8. In many ways, the main characters of the book are cartoon figures - Helmholtz Watson the alienated superman, Bernard Marx the cowardly, hypocritical intellectual, Mustapha Mond the cynical all-knowing leader, John the doomed idealistic. Discuss the book as an allegory and elaborate on what each character stands for.

9. When John first starts reading Shakespeare, he discovers that the words make his emotions "more real" - they even make other people more real. Talk about the power of language in the book, the power of the word to influence thought and behavior. Why did Huxley choose Shakespeare as the medium of John's intellectual awakening?

10. Huxley wrote many other books, yet this is his most popular and most enduring. What is it about this book that has captured our imaginations for so long? Are there aspects of it that seem dated?

11. If you read the book earlier in life - say in high school or college - compare the experience of reading it again later on. Does it hold up to a second reading?

12. Talk about Huxley's use of narrator. Does the fact that Huxley's vision was impaired for part of his life have any bearing on the way he narrates the story and sets the scenes?

13. Could anything like Brave New World really happen? Has it happened in some form that we don't fully recognize?

About the Author
Poet, playwright, novelist and short story writer, travel writer, essayist, critic, philosopher, mystic, social prophet, Aldous Huxley was one of the most accomplished and influential English literary figures of the mid-20th century. He was born in Surrey in 1894, and his books include Crome Yellow, Antic Hay, Those Barren Leaves, Point Counter Point, Brave New World, and The Doors of Perception. From 1937 on, Huxley made his home in Southern California. He died in 1963. Today he is remembered as one of the great explorers of 20th century literature, a writer who continually reinvented himself as he pushed his way deeper and deeper into the mysteries of human consciousness.
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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 696 Customer Reviews
  • Posted November 12, 2010

    Book is Good. Editing is not.

    Bought a copy of this to have on my nook. Started reading it and found a few typographical errors in the book. It only gets worse throughout.

    It's not unreadable but, it is pretty annoying. I have a paper copy of the book so I didn't really need a nook copy.

    Save your money for a copy that isn't full of errors.

    29 out of 36 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 13, 2011

    Poor Quality!! Many Errors

    A ton of errors in this nook book. I dropped this and picked up a copy from my local library. Would not recommend purchase... ever.

    22 out of 24 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted April 12, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    Classic novel, sub-par conversion

    Huxley's story is stronger than ever, unfortunately the conversion process left much to be desired. Many run-on words and formatting errors negatively affect the flow of reading this timeless novel. Buyer beware!

    18 out of 18 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 20, 2011

    Beware of terrible editing...

    You can find reviews of the story itself elsewhere. I want to elaborate on the bad electronic tranfer from print. Examples include no paragraph indents, incorrect spelling, incomprehendible sentences, and other annoyances. 5 stars for the story, but the lack of proper formatting/editing was truly frustrating to me- although I could see some readers not minding at all, the problems occur throughout the entire book. I will be suspicous of Rosettabooks publishing in the future.

    15 out of 15 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted September 4, 2011

    I Also Recommend:

    I, for one, welcome our new corporate overlords...

    If multinational corporations ruled the world...people would be bred in bottles for certain jobs to make society more efficient. They would be psychologically conditioned to always want to buy new things, to find the idea of close personal ties to be undesirable, and to be happy with their lives no matter what (and take some "soma" whenever they began to feel unhappy). And any social dissenters would be sent to Greenland -- or simply crushed. Huxley saw it coming 80 years ago with his dystopian classic that depicts what happens seven centuries from now when someone whose psychological conditioning didn't work perfectly runs into a "savage" in New Mexico and brings him back to "civilization." The characters aren't very deep, but one would expect that with psychologically conditioned people. Meanwhile, the science behind his "Brave New World" seems inevitable. Whether or not the people let themselves become happy slaves to a corporate military state is yet unknown. Of course, there are lobbyists in place to encourage it with unfettered cash. But don't worry too much -- just enjoy Huxley's short-but-sweet vision of a possible future and realize that, if it ever comes to pass, at least you know that you'll be perpetually happy... :)

    12 out of 15 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted July 8, 2012

    It's a shame how many reviews (mostly from high schoolers, it se

    It's a shame how many reviews (mostly from high schoolers, it seems) are bashing Brave New World because it defies social normalcy, morality, etc., for the book is by no means endorsing or preaching any of it. I too was required to read the book as a student a few years back (at a Catholic high school), but never did it seem to me that sex, drugs, and artificial, induced happiness were meant to seem desirable. Rather, this book is a prophetic warning of what the modern world could become; in my opinion, the parallels between aspects of our world and this are not so far apart. I would argue that this book, if anything, promotes humanity-- what it is to really be human, the necessity of emotions (even sadness and pain), the importance of art and literature, the value of religion and the great freedom to philosophize, and so on. These are a few lessons that I took from this Brave New World, and I would say that this book has been more influential to me than any other that I've read.

    Also, it's too bad that so many of the poor reviews are because of editing on nooks; the paperback edition doesn't have those problem.

    10 out of 11 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted September 10, 2011

    Good book, sloppy ocr.

    I'm sure there are plenty of other reviews about the book itself... this copy is full of ocr issues though from when it was scanned to ebook. Poor proofreading... page 78 has a random "BraveNewWorld78" midsentence. Makes me wonder if people even read the ebook releases before publishing them.

    10 out of 10 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted June 27, 2011

    Really.....

    Come on this book (in my opinion) was awful. I dont get why as a sophmore I have to read it. It has immorality, unfaithfulness, and child "erotic play". I think this book should be in another genre of reading if you understand me......... oh and i couldn't put zero stars so lets give it one

    9 out of 41 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 14, 2008

    Best Book I've Read In A While...

    This is a great read if you love something that makes you think, and makes you reflect on the ideals of society. I feel this book was written ahead of it's time, and a lot of the messages in it are timeless...A great read for the intellectual.

    8 out of 8 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 7, 2012

    incredibly thorough and insanely brilliant

    This book was simply marvelous. Alous Huxley certainly manages to create a world of his own and embellishes it with deep thought and distopian possibilities of any society. This book is highly recommended in my eyes and is a top-notch read! Wonderful, you will not regret reading this!

    4 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted February 20, 2012

    A must read!

    Brave New World is frightening because it could very well come to pass. So many of the situations depicted in the book are close at hand. The fact that the inhabitants of this New World can escape through a drug called Soma is true today. This book used to be required reading in schools.

    4 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 6, 1999

    This is not a usual book!

    I am totally surpriced by the Author, eventhough he wrote this book long long time ago , all the things that is in the book is very likely will happen in our life right now! .. look at all the people want to control this world : for example, people try to control the edcation . By doing that, people get less brain excises so that they don't think that much as before. Those who want to control the world can have more chance to accomplish their evel dream. Anyways.. This is a very good book.. you sure you want to read it.... COOL!

    4 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 30, 2013

    A MUST READ! Brave New World is a classic that many people recom

    A MUST READ!
    Brave New World is a classic that many people recommended me over the years and about which  I read several positive reviews. When finally I decided to buy it I regretted to have not done it before: I can say it totally lived up my expectations. Written in 1931 by Aldous Huxley, this novel – listed in the 100 best English-language novels of the 20th century – is definitely more contemporary than ever. The pioneering side of this book resides in its main themes, which refer to reproductive technology, mass-consuption, psychological manipulation and conditioning. 

    Set in London in 2540, Brave New World depicts a future global society organised on the basis of strict rules and regulations, which guarantee stability, peaceful and happiness: it's the “World State”, under which the world population is unified and controlled. As a matter of fact, its citizens are divided into five castes, forged through chemical interferences during the fetuses' development (natural reproduction has been replaced by a sort of industrial process, while sex has only a recreational purpose), an accurate government control using slogans and promoting recreative projects, sleep-learning and operant-conditioning methods. The lower castes, which represent the majority of human society, are heavily limited in their cognitive abilities: their anbitions and desires are restricted and thus easier to manipulate. However, everyone in the World State seems to be fully happy: Huxley portrays an utopian community where people are satisfied with their predetermined jobs,  relationships, lives and need nothing else, where the notions of family, religion and love have no reasons to exists. Nonetheless, this happyness is illusory, since it is soon threatened by some characters who see the non-sense of being happy without a real awareness of their life and personal identity. The author himself represents the “new world” with a hint of irony, and so it can be said that the society he depicts is actually a dystopian one.
     
    In a nutshell, this book deals with many of our current concerns about globalisation and technology: the fear to be controlled and the consequent mind-torpor and uniformity of the society, the loss of moral values and the weakening of feelings, the utopia of permanent happiness, based on what we consume insted of what we are. On the other hand, we are a mixture of bad and positive feelings, and can't be simply happy, we have also “the right to be unhappy”. As my favorite quote of all time says: "Actual happiness always looks pretty squalid in comparison with the over-compensations for misery. And, of course, stability isn't nearly so spectacular as instability. And being contented has none of the glamour of a good fight against misfortune, none of the picturesqueness of a struggle with temptation, or a fatal overthrow by passion or doubt. Happiness is never grand." (Brave New World – chapter 16)
    Despite its complex writing style – which sometimes seems to mirror the scientific and technological language – I found Brave New World unpudownable.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted February 27, 2012

    A Unique and Interesting Book

    This book, although confusing at first, is an interesting read that is vastly different from most books you will read. It takes place around 600 years in the future, “After Ford” era, in London. Humans in the book are made in a lab that produces test tubes that give birth to nearly identical humans. The babies that are made are then put into classes to social condition them. An example of this is that the babies are violently made to think flowers and books are bad. They are than put into a strict caste system. The highest caste being the Alpha-Plus. One of the members is Bernard Marx, a psychologist, who is unlike everyone both physically and mentally. He is short, due to an error in his embryo stage, and acts unorthodox compared to the conformity of the nearly identical humans. Bernard meets a girl named Lenina, whom he has feelings, although she has dated a man named Henry. Later Bernard goes on a trip with Lenina to a place called the “Savage Reservation”, in New Mexico. This is a Native American reservation, where they meet John, also called “The Savage”¸and his mom Linda. They go back to London, to find out that the D.H.C., one of the leaders, wants to banish him to Iceland. Also, while they were there they found out that the D.H.C was named Tomakin, and is John’s father. During this time Linda is taking a lot of a popular drug in this book called soma. She begins to die, and when she does John becomes angry. To make him even madder Lenina tries to seduce him, because in this book the humans are socially conditioned to crave sex a lot. A riot breaks out with the Delta caste, and John ends up whipping her. This arouses the crowd and it turns into a sexual convention. I don’t want to spoil the ending, but I will say that it is well written and a little shocking. The major theme is the author’s prediction of the future, but sex and Shakespearean allusions show up constantly. It also conveys that people shouldn’t conform to others, but be themselves no matter the consequences. This is very apparent in the character of Bernard. What I liked about this book is that it is a very creative idea, unlike any other, making it very interesting. It is also very well written, especially for an older book. I also liked how it plenty of action, some twists and turns, and a little romance. What I didn’t like was that at first the concept of creating humans in a lab, and making them think a certain way was very hard for me to wrap my head around. People should read this if they like unique, or science fiction books. You may also like if you like a good action book. I want to read another work similar to this, which is 1984 by George Orwell. Overall it gets a 4.8 out of 5.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted June 12, 2011

    Good book, terrible formatting

    The chapter and title markers are way off. And there are lots of typos and strange word breaks. It's a good book, but all these quirks make it hard to really get into the book. You're better off finding another version of it.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 24, 2013

    Caveat Emptor; Major Rip-Off!!!

    The book itself is great, but this version of it sucks; the end is missing! The story stops abruptly, with no warning, and when I reported it to B&N, they told me it was just my tough luck. NOT cool!!!

    2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted November 28, 2011

    Fantastic!

    Similar to 1984, yet a bit of an easier read. We read the first two chapters in a class, and I loved it so I bought the book. It truly is a classic.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted November 5, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    If you like science fiction you must read Brave New World, You will never forgive yourself if you dont .

    I am glad that I read this book because it makes you think. It is not a page turner though but at the end it will make you think.I am totally surpriced by the Author, even though he wrote this book like a long long time ago this things are probley gonna happen ... look at all the people that want control and they get no education. The novel is set in the A.F. 632, almost seven centuries after the twentieth century. A.F. stands for the year of Ford and World Controllers rule the world and ensure the stability of society through the creation of a five-tiered caste system. Alphas and Betas are at the top of the system and act as the scientists, politicians, and other top minds, while Gammas, Deltas, and Epsilons are at the bottom and represent the world's industrial working class. A drug called soma ensures that no one ever feels pain or remains unhappy, and members of every caste receive rations of the drug. Pre- and post-natal conditioning further ensures social stability. its a good book read it !!!

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 15, 2008

    worst book ive ever read

    This is absolutely one of the worst books out there. The author is seriously gone mad, and his world created in the novel is insane. People take 'soma' or drugs to get happy and solve problems. Is that something to read about? What a stupid book.

    2 out of 23 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 10, 2007

    Against My Beliefs

    While reading this book I couldn't believe the topics that were discussed. The problems that are bought to the table make you think seriously about our society's problems, but as a Christian and a memeber of society, i have been brought up to be against these kinds of ideas. After reading about Huxley's life I began to understand where it came from, but a man like that would probably be institutionalized at this point in time. This is defiantly not highschool reading material!

    2 out of 10 people found this review helpful.

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 696 Customer Reviews

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