i’m too lazy to write a coherent impression of Brave New World by Aldous Huxley so i’ll just copy-paste comments i made on a thread about the book from the Flips Flipping Pages shelfari page.
please read gege’s book review for a better picture of BNW and how the Flippers came to choose it as a Book of the Month (June, actually… I’m really lazy).
as an outsider looking inside, were the citizens of Huxley’s BNW really free? you may say that they have been conditioned biologically to be happy with their work. diseases were a thing of the past. there was no poverty. all this they had FOR A PRICE- they were conditioned and controlled by a central government. WERE THE PEOPLE OF BNW REALLY FREE?
– nope. to be free is to be able to choose options, take different paths that may or may not agree with the greater whole. and to be free is to have the knowledge of this power. no one is completely free, of course–we can’t have those with serial killer tendencies indulge their urges at will now, can we? society will always formulate and implement a check-and- balance for order. in BNW, the very capacity (through biochemical manipulation of the embryo and conditioning) to distinguish control over freedom has been virtually removed.
a participant comments that when reading SF, we tend to look for “corollaries” with present-day technologies. “but I don’t think the value of sci-fi lies in this,” he says. others point out that SF is valued because of its strong visionary quality, its versatility with speculating about science and many aspects of reality.
– another value of sf is in the creative exercise – stories take off from a “what if” supposition. inventing a new history, geography, and set of social customs is, i imagine, an awesome feat because the writer has to make this world real for readers – inserting similarities help but using too much of those defeats the purpose and leaves the visionary scale wanting in breadth and depth.
on the writing in BNW… many picked on the clumsiness of the writing style and crudeness of its literary devices.
– i rather like the quaint, awkward writing – rather like throwing mud in the face of literary conventions, an excellent foil to the controlled, rigid social structure of BNW, a tongue-in-cheek commentary to its conformist philosophy.
maybe, the sum is greater than the flawed parts, as rise (another member) says: maybe in terms of literary merit this applies.
BNW is a dystopia. happiness is achieved at the expense of personal freedom and creativity. people are drugged and conditioned into happiness. books are banned. why?
– the suppression of literary and informative books was for a good cause, according to BNW philosophy, mustapha mond (a character in the book, one of BNW’s leaders) explains. they (leaders) didn’t want people to start thinking for themselves and defying the social order. they also didn’t want people to become unhappy from reading about tragedies and other passionate emotions. they didn’t want people asking for more or asking less.
my favorite character is lenina, the book’s official airhead:
– but i was quite sympathetic to lenina. she was the only one who didn’t seem to have any ulterior motive for defying the world order. she wasn’t ambitious or complex, just wanted to be happy. yet she had a small voice that she listened to eventually. she came to see john, didn’t she? shed tears for him? she listened to love, even if she didn’t know it was love, only that it was taboo. in her airhead way, she achieved what john aims at by self-flagellation–to be noble. maybe, that’s why he hates her as much as he loves her?