Vintage reads: Brave New World

Last updated 05:00 12/07/2014

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BRAVE NEW WORLD By Aldous Huxley

Reviewed by Melissa Goode of Hamilton City Libraries

Though originally published in 1932 and observing a futuristic society, Brave New World has stood the test of time remarkably well. It is still an engaging and deeply unsettling read today, where dystopian fiction is enjoying a huge resurgence in popularity.

Intending to create the ideal society, where all the citizens are happy, without pain or suffering, this Brave New World has efficiently stamped out individuality, and eliminated messy ideas such as art, religion, love, and family. Humanity has embraced the idea of mass production, introduced by Ford in their assembly line creation of motorcars; indeed they revere Henry Ford as the founding father of their society.

Cloned humans are grown en-masse in hatcheries, raised according to their eventual function. They are programmed with societal doctrine from infancy using hypnopaedia - repeated messages to the sleeping mind - and shock treatment. Those destined for lower classes are stunted as embryos in their physical and mental development.

After many generations of this upbringing, the idea of living as a family is now completely repugnant. Humans are the complacent consumers they are designed to be, conditioned to "like their inescapable social destiny". It's the perfect world . . . or is it?

In 1958 Huxley wrote a collection of essays Brave New World Revisited' in which he points out the dangerous progression of our society toward the kind of nightmare vision he portrays in this novel. Indeed it is the plausibility that makes Brave New World so very sinister. However, it remains an entertaining novel, bleak yet darkly humorous.

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- Waikato Times

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