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Island [Paperback]

Aldous Huxley , David Bradshaw
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (38 customer reviews)
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Book Description

7 April 2005

WITH AN INTRODUCTION BY DAVID BRADSHAW

For over a hundred years the Pacific island of Pala has been the scene of a unique experiment in civilisation. Its inhabitants live in a society where western science has been brought together with eastern philosophy and humanism to create a paradise on earth. When cynical journalist, Will Farnaby, arrives to search for information about potential oil reserves on Pala, he quickly falls in love with the way of life on the island. Soon the need to complete his mission becomes an intolerable burden. In counterpoint to Brave New World and Ape and Essence, in Island Huxley gives us his vision of utopia.


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Island + The Doors of Perception: And Heaven and Hell + Brave New World
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Product details

  • Paperback: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage Classics; Re-issue edition (7 April 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0099477777
  • ISBN-13: 978-0099477778
  • Product Dimensions: 13.1 x 19.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (38 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 4,789 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Review

'One of the truly great philosophical novels' -- The Times

Book Description

'One of the truly great philosophical novels' The Times

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Huxley's Philosophy is Perennial 15 Mar 2008
By A Kant
Format:Paperback
This is the antithesis to Brave New World and a deeper exploration of the naturalistic vision that Huxley left us with, at the climax of his stunning novel 30 years earlier. It is a thing of beauty. I doubt anyone could read this book wihtout feeling a little loathing at technological and industrial marvels we are privileged with. You will feel compelled to set aside some time for the simple things in life and forget about the ones that involve money, without feeling guilty.

It seems incredible that Brave new world is nearly 80 years old and Island, born with the Hippy era, almost 50. To me, these works ring truer today than any other utopian works. It is Huxley's grasp of the human psyche that makes us believe such societies could endure. He shows us not how we could be forced to exist within them them, but whatever your political stance, why you might be happier if you did so. Despite his failing eyesight, Huxley saw a lot of things coming and wrote his books HD-ready!
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39 of 42 people found the following review helpful
By A Customer
Format:Paperback
I read 1984 and brave new world, and as I am sure was the case for most people, my perspectives on society, science, and progress were altered, irreversably, or so I thought. These great dystopian novels coloured and darkened my perception of our modern landscape of cctv, GM foods and shrink wrapped pre-proccessed art. Then I read Island and had my optimism reaffirmed. Island shows us that a society based on anarchist principles could conceivably be a better one than our own, without reading like psuedo philosophical new age toss. Huxley is beautifully persuesive in his writing, and manages seamlessly, to provide coherrent, intellegent arguments without ever fracturing the dramatic and engrossing narrative. I think everyone will connect with the main character's periodic visions of his fellow men as maggots, and even the seemingly pessimistic ending leaves you hopeful.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fresh fresh fresh... 3 Jun 1999
By A Customer
Format:Paperback
For me, the most appealing feature of this work was the way Huxley combines great society-changes with personal development and joy. Too often people want to make the world better by being a pure and holy human being, which is off course impossible. In Huxleys Utopia society is completely adjusted to the best of human nature, but it's still human nature. This is what makes the whole so realistic and valuable. The obvious question now is off course: Why don't we put his ideas into action? In answering this I must agree with another reviewer, who poses that people in Pala are too earnest, too occupied with their happiness. Maybe Huxley forgot the part of human nature we call 'laziness'. Another possibility is that we're simply too stupid a race to put such obvious guidelines to happiness beside us. When i walk down a library or book shop i'm always having difficulties finding books that describe something positive. It seems we are animals that enjoy suffering as well as complaining about it. Untill we can put this drive for self-pity and misery aside, we're not ready for Pala. I can't help but wondering if we will ever be... .
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A book that everyone should read at least once 25 Aug 1999
By A Customer
Format:Paperback
I first read this book when I was 15, and it had a profound and lasting influence on my life. Rereading it now, more than twenty years later, I still find it moving.
The characters in this book are a bit too good to be true: nobody is that well-balanced, that reasonable, that much in touch with themselves. And yet, when you read this book, you can't help feeling that people could be that well-balanced, could be that reasonable, could be that much in touch with themselves and with others if only they were given the chance, if only they were given the right sort of upbringing.
I can never decide whether this book is optimistic or pessimistic in its view of life. A little of both, I think. Huxley's optimism about human nature and the human spirit shines through, but it's tinged with a feeling of disappointment and concern for the future.
Read it. It's not some New Age psycho-babble crap. It may not be your cup of tea, but it's definitely worth the time it takes to read it and to think about what it's saying.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars News from Pala 10 July 2014
By Archy
Format:Paperback
There are plenty of dystopian novels around - Huxley's Brave New World for one - but utopian novels are thin on the ground. In this, Huxley's last novel, he tells of the utopian island of Pala, where extended families are the norm and adolescents are given a sort of magic mushrooms as an aid to becoming fully realised humans. It's all very idealistic. Unfortunately, there's a nearby dictator who's got his eye on Pala's oil, and the young leader-in-waiting is on his side. Also trying to get an oil deal is Will, who has been shipwrecked on the island and is being shown around by his rescuers.

So much for the plot. The bulk of the novel consists of the tour and explanation Will is given, and this is Huxley's great utopian fantasy. It was published in the 1960s, before LSD became illegal and was no doubt popular with the hippies. I really enjoyed the bulk of it, the utopia, though I found the concluding chapter, where Will is finally persuaded to try the 'moksha-medicine' well nigh incomprehensible. (Other people's acid trips in print usually are.) The opening pages are a little confusing, too, and it's only when Will arrives at the island that the novel gets going.

There's a touch of Krishnamurti about some of the teachings, and more than a little Buddhism in others. But the novel it most reminded me of was William Morris' News from Nowhere, a similar utopia. It's a novel I wish I'd read as a teenager; since I enjoyed it now I would have loved it then! Ursula Le Guin's The Dispossessed also came to mind. It does have a few contradictions. Much is made of the necessity of dealing with reality rather than words and symbols, yet the moshka ceremony is littered with symbols and the experience, as the rather churlish boy leader points out, is just in the head.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Classic
Classic
Published 17 days ago by Yvonne & Phillip
5.0 out of 5 stars This is a book widely circulated in the 1960's which ...
This is a book widely circulated in the 1960's which corresponded with the positive outlook of the times, leaving behind the grey pessimistic 1950's. Read more
Published 2 months ago by Christopher D Rudkin
5.0 out of 5 stars A Gift
Read this book back in the dark ages when I was trawling through the recommended must read list. Bought as a gift for a good friend.
Published 7 months ago by treforjevans
2.0 out of 5 stars Disappointing
There are a couple of 1 or 2-star reviews of this book, but the majority are glowing in their praise. Read more
Published 9 months ago by K. Picken
5.0 out of 5 stars A Utopian Vision
Huxley's fictional island paradise is called Pala and it is where the journalist Will Farnaby is washed up on the beach. Read more
Published 10 months ago by Tracey Madeley
5.0 out of 5 stars THIS REVIEW DOES NOT GIVE AWAY PLOTS!!
Island can be read in four ways; as a poor novel, a thread-bare utopian manifesto, a (borderline)pseudo-intellectual essay on humanity or (as I did) a thought provoking... Read more
Published 13 months ago by JP
2.0 out of 5 stars It's no Brave New World
I read this as it's supposed to offer the antidote to Brave New World and while it does that by offering a utopian world rather than a dystopian world the contrast is very... Read more
Published 14 months ago by T. Howarth
4.0 out of 5 stars Huxley's utopian vision
After reading Brave New World and the Doors of Perception I thought I'd give this book a go after reading positive reviews. Read more
Published 15 months ago by magijack777
4.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant societal creation
Sense of impending doom from so early on. Not entirely satisfying as a novel but a brilliant creation of a utopic society that will give us all something to think about. Read more
Published 18 months ago by P. Newey
3.0 out of 5 stars Not a novel
The author tried to make a novel from something that was not suitable for it. The ideas expressed in the book are quite interesting, and I'd be delighted to live in a society such... Read more
Published 19 months ago by Giorgio Brocco
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