Author: Alduous Huxley
Brave New World, called one of the most influential novels of the century, is a story about the distant future. Genetic science has become so advanced, humans no longer give birth but are manufactured in assembly lines, each one specifically tailored to their predestined role in society. The very function of society is radically different from what we know. In this future, promiscuity is expected to the point where it is not normal to sleep with the same person consistently.
The plot develops about halfway through the novel, when Bernard Marx visits a Savage Reservation where the old kind of life, with it’s own set of morals, continues. He brings back with him a young man who had heard stories of the outside world. He wanted to see it, but was faced with a culture radically different from the one he understood.
The culture-shock that John, the Savage, suffers is no doubt the main focus of the novel. However, in the introduction by David Bradshaw, it is said that Huxley wasn’t sure himself “whether he has writing a satire, a prophecy or a blueprint.” Bradshaw also says that one of Brave New World’s greatest strengths is that it is hard to dissect. If Huxley didn’t know what he was writing, then how should he expect a reader to get any sort of feel for the message he was sending? Is this a warning against the path of science, or an encouragement to follow it? There is too much room for interpretation, and this is the novel’s greatest weakness.
Along the way of this aimless story, there are a few technicalities and stylistic choices that Huxley uses which are annoying and often difficult to understand. He seems to make a point of using the term “Our Ford” as often as possible instead of “Our Lord”. While repetition does reinforce an idea, it is overdone here. The frequent quoting of Shakespeare are, again, too frequent, and make Huxley sound pretentious. Also, the structure is erratic. A single paragraph can continue across multiple pages, or sixteen one-line sections can be on a single page. The plot remains at a standstill for chapters, then jumps ahead much too quickly. All of this is disorienting to the reader.
Despite this, there is still a mildly interesting story. There is a lot to get through, but if you can get there it’s worth it. Brave New World is definitely better than Orwell’s 1984, but it is by no means a book worthy of much note. If you have a few hours to spare, give it a try, but don’t go out of your way for it.