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21 of 23 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Strictly No Shakespeare, 21 Nov 2007
This review is from: Brave New World (Paperback)
Aldous Huxley was born in England in 1894 and saw his first novel - "Crome Yellow" published in 1921. He is best known for his anti-utopian novel "Brave New World", which was first published in 1932.

"Brave New World" set in the year 632 AF - 632 years after the first Model T Ford has rolled off the production lines. (Henry Ford has, it would seem, become the world's main deity, and the "Sign of the T" is commonplace). The 'civilised world' has become a radically different place - although everyone is, technically, happy it's cost a certain amount of 'free will'. The family unit no longer exists, with children now being created in a laboratory. Since the overwhelming majority of women are 'created' sterile, the entire population's physical and intellectual development can be carefully controlled from conception. This level of control ensure that - with only very few exceptions - people are happy fulfilling their pre-determined role in society. (Members of the 'Epsilon Minus' class are bred for menial labour, while - at the other end of the scale - members of the 'Alpha Plus' class are bred for their intelligence). Promiscuous sex and recreational drug use is encouraged, and only a deviant would consider abstaining from either. Similarly, spending time alone is considered abnormal, while monogamy is practically a perversion. One of the book's key characters is Bernard Marx - an Alpha-Plus, who has some rather dubious tendencies. He's planning on taking a rather unusual trip to a "Savage Reservation" : in these places, the primitives who live there have children and raise families in the time honoured fashion. They also grow old and don't consider cleanliness to be "next to fordliness".

I've slightly mixed feelings about "Brave New World". I was a little disappointed - though, with the constant comparisons to "1984", I think my expectations of it were maybe a little off. The elements of the book dealing with indoctrination, conditioning and bio-engineering are certainly relevant to today's world - however, the book just didn't make the impact it could have. Part of the problem, for me, was that the book's focus shifted so often from one character to another - next to Winston Smith, the characters that appeared here were a little flimsy. Similarly, I didn't find Huxley's Brave New World quite inspiring the same depth of feeling as Orwell's Oceania. Nevertheless, it's certainly worth reading, and I can see why it's so highly thought of.
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