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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Huxley's Philosophy is Perennial
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...
Published on 15 Mar 2008 by A Kant

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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
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 as the one from Pala described in the book.
The book can appear boring at some parts, as the plot and the characters are flat (I told you: it was better not to force it into a novel!)
Published 22 months ago by Giorgio Brocco


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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Huxley's Philosophy is Perennial, 15 Mar 2008
This review is from: Island (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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41 of 44 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A provocative, optimistic, and beautifully written book, 21 Feb 2000
By A Customer
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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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fresh fresh fresh..., 3 Jun 1999
By A Customer
This review is from: Island (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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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Island - Do not hesitate, read it!!, 15 Oct 2009
By 
Ms. K. Tostevin "englishstudent87" (midlands, uk) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
I was assigned this novel to read for University, as part of a module based on 1960s literature.
The book was amazing; although it's not Huxley's most famous novel, it doesn't mean that it's not wonderfully written! He is an awesome author!
The novel is about a man who works for an oil-company and has been sent from Britain to persuade the peoples of an isolated island that they should allow this corporation to use their oil. When the protagonist (I forget his name) arrives on the island he finds that they are living a 'strange' utopian existence; initially he mocks their way of life, but ultimately he realises that it is capitalism that is flawed and not the communism-based lifestyle the people of Pala favour.
By the time you have finished reading this novel, you will know a lot more about Buddhism and Communism! I REALLY enjoyed this text, which is why I have taken the trouble to write this review!
I don't want to spoil the ending but I will say that it isn't your conventional happy ending, but you won't want it any other way!! :)
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4 of 4 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
This review is from: Island (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 (ALTRINCHAM, Cheshire United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Island (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.

It's also, for a utopian fantasy, very pessimistic. "When in doubt" advises resident Dr Robert (wonder if The Beatles read this?) "always act on the assumption that people are more honourable than you have any solid reason for supposing they are." The downbeat ending is a perfect demonstration of where that attitude gets you. Still, an enthralling book.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars THIS REVIEW DOES NOT GIVE AWAY PLOTS!!, 23 July 2013
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This review is from: Island (Paperback)
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 philosophical novel. Much like HG wells - 'A Modern Utopia', Island takes you on a journey through a utopia and allows you to contemplate on its merits.

I do not know if Huxley was trying to convince me of this Utopia's ideals or not. I naturally read it as a invitation to question everything. If you approach reading the book in this manner, you will finish Island much more enlightened than you started.

It does have a plot and several characters, that said I don't believe Huxley is a great story teller and so, I would warn you away if you are looking for a fully formed, fleshed out novel. However, in my opinon this does not take away from the book. If you are looking for escapsim, stick to a thriller. This book won't make you look out the window, it will make you look in the mirror.

Island is the philosophical sister to the sociological Brave New world, despite sharing some qualities, Island is not about 'Them', it is about 'You'.

As thought provoking as anything I've read from Plato all the way to Orwell.

One of the most important books I've ever read.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Meditiaton on mindfulness, 16 Oct 2010
By 
Jo Bennie (UK) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)   
This review is from: Island (Paperback)
Journalist and life long cynic Will Farnaby wakes up to the insistent call 'Attention' after being shipwrecked on the forbidden island of Pala, located geographically somewhere around Bali. Sent by the head of his paper, oil tycoon Aldehyde, to find out whether Pala will be easy to take over and exploit, Will finds himself in a world where the inner life is cherished and valued and even the birds in the trees have a part to play in reminding the inhabitants of this utopia how best to live and be.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A one-way ticket to Pala, please..., 30 Nov 1997
By A Customer
This review is from: Island (Paperback)
This is the kind of book you buy to give to friends, feeling that the world would be a better place if more people read it. Huxley's novel of ideas is an engaging story about the forbidden SE Asian island of Pala. Through the eyes and ears of a London journalist shipwrecked there we learn that "the best of both worlds- Oriental and European, the ancient and modern-" form Huxley's answer to his own dystopic _Brave New World_ (1931). These books not only share the same author but also their remarkably timely critique of the modern world, of "Western philosophers- even the best of them- [who]'re nothing more than good talkers..." and of "unverifiable dogmas and the emotions inspired by them." While the Palanese embrace the "applied metaphysics" of the East, they needed a written language (English), the scientific method for improved agriculture and certain surgical practices, and other more humane parts of Western civlization (Mozart). The rest, including heavy industry, missionaries, and imperialism, they happily left behind.
In this day and age of globalization, cultural homogenization, overpopulation, resource depletion, environmental degradation, and general malaise over what modernity has made us, this introduction to Buddhism, Huxley's last novel written in 1962, is as relevant as ever.
Tse-Sung Wu (at c m u dot e d u)
PS: Interestingly, in his recent travelogue, _To the Ends of the Earth: From Togo to Turkmenistan, from Iran to Cambodia, a Journey to the Frontiers of Anarchy_ (1997), Robert Kaplan writes about Rishi Valley of India (v. Ch. 23) that reads as if it were lifted straight out of _Island_. Could this be Pala in real life?
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21 of 24 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Beautiful, 13 Dec 2004
By A Customer
This review is from: Island (Paperback)
This book has no match. Reading it I was filled with joy, I wept, I pondered, I laughed, I was made angry. It is a masterpiece of love and pain and full of insight into how the world works, and how it could work. Read it, and you will be left "a sadder and a wiser man", but also perhaps one with more dreams.
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Island by Aldous Huxley
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