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Friday, October 17, 2014

Audible Book Review: Brave New World by Aldous Huxley

The overall society issues and concepts are utterly thought provoking in this classic.
Brave New World
Written by: Aldous Huxley
Narrated by: Michael York
  • Length: 8 hrs and 5 mins 
  • Unabridged Audiobook

  • Release Date:01-16-08
  • Publisher: AudioGO
Genre: Dystopian Classic
My Rating: 3.75 of 5.0

Publisher's Summary
When Lenina and Bernard visit a savage reservation, we experience how Utopia can destroy humanity.
On the 75th anniversary of its publication, this outstanding work of literature is more crucial and relevant today than ever before. Cloning, feel-good drugs, anti-aging programs, and total social control through politics, programming, and media: has Aldous Huxley accurately predicted our future? With a storyteller's genius, he weaves these ethical controversies in a compelling narrative that dawns in the year 632 A.F. (After Ford, the deity). When Lenina and Bernard visit a savage reservation, we experience how Utopia can destroy humanity.
©1932 Aldous Huxley; ©1998 BBC Audiobooks America; (P)2003 BBC Audiobooks America

Lenina and Bernard are friends in a society that is totally controlled by conditioning from birth to adulthood. There are no “children” but rather units are grown in the cloning factory, assigned a life role and then molded with inoculations dream manipulation and brain training or conditioning to fit thier station in the happy, united society. Independence and free thinking, even reading, are prohibited and punished. Early sexual play is encouraged as it is part of conditioning to not feel the need for singular love because one can have multiple partners and sexual fulfillment is enhanced by drugged sensory sessions. Anyone who feels at all unhappy or unsettled is encouraged to take soma, the ubiquitous “happy” drug, which is also the reward for a good day’s labor.

Bernard is on the edge of this controlled world. Others consider him to be a bit “off” and blame it on an accident of alcohol in one of his childhood batches. He wonders what it would be like to feel passion and to know freedom. Yet he is too conditioned and too cowardly to take any bold step out of line. He has one good friend who is also on the fringes but more in an artistic sense than in a rebellious sense.

Bernard convinces the outgoing Lenina to take a trip with him to a savage reservation. They are a alarmed by the primitive life-style and even more shocked to discover a mother and her natural, now grown, son (“gasp”). Then Bernard realizes that the woman, Linda, came from his world and was accidentally lost and left behind twenty plus years before. Her son, John, is eager to learn of the world his mother told him so much about. John has grown up with Indians and taught himself to read from the works of Shakespeare. Exploring a modern society of controlled members seems like the chance to explore “a brave new world”.

Bernard get permission to bring Linda and John back to the city where they will view John’s reactions as an experiment. What John discovers may not be to his liking although Bernard is thrilled with the fame he gets as the sponsor of this strange savage being. John is fascinated by Lenina but his moral background is offended by her loose ways.

There is a great deal of weird strangeness in this book and some of the scenes were silly and annoying. However the overall society issues and concepts are utterly thought provoking. I was intrigued when the government leader explained the process of creating a society of ‘sameness’ to John. I have a feeling this was quite bold in its day (1932) and the sexual freedoms no doubt contributed to its being on the “banned books” list. Although this is not an exciting or action packed dystopian, it is certainly a must read classic in that genre.

Audio Notes: I enjoyed the narration by Michael York. This might not be a favorite book but the audio rendition made it easier to 'read' than if I had to read from print/eBook.
An excerpt:
Bernard: “I want to look at the sea in peace...
It makes me feel as though I was more of me, if you know what I mean. More of my own, not so completely a part of something else. Not just a cell in the social body....”
Lenina: “...after all, everyone works for everyone else. We can’t do without anyone, even Epsilons.”
Bernard: “What would it be like if I could? If I was free, not enslaved by my conditioning?”

I selected this from my own Audible Library for Banned Books Week.

1 comment:

  1. I am a fourth of the way through this book. I started it for banned book week but it does not hold my attention.


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