Brave New World by Aldous Huxley

    Chris  Review by:  Chris

Title:  Brave New World

Author:  Aldous Huxley

Collection:  Adult Fiction

This book was the third most-challenged book of 2010 and makes it onto the top ten list most years, probably because it is often assigned for reading in high schools.  Written in 1931, Brave New World presents a future society that today we would call a dystopia.  This society has eschewed religion, but it does have something akin to religious worship of Henry Ford.  Whereas actual religions motivate followers with passion and thought, Huxley’s society reveres Ford for his development of the assembly line, in which craftsmanship, uniqueness, and intrinsic value have been replaced by mass production, homogeneity, and rampant consumerism.  This reverence should tell you a lot about the values of Huxley’s dystopic society.    A totalitarian government oversees everything, including reproduction, which is done entirely in laboratory facilities that operate much like Ford’s assembly line; people do not conceive and bear children at all.  In fact, they find the idea obscene.  What is more, the government plays recordings while people sleep to encourage them to avoid attachments to anything or anybody in any form.  Attachments cause instability and distress.  Instead, people have meaningless sexual relationships with as many people as they want, spend all of their time working or pursuing empty leisure activities, and take large quantities of a drug called “soma” that leaves them happily disassociated from their surroundings.  No individual person or thing matters except in the way he, she, or it makes one feel, which can be achieved with any other person or thing just as well.  Feeling good and happy are the only things that really matter.  People are interchangeable like parts in Ford’s assembly line.  If one were to read a small portion of Brave New World, it might certainly lead him or her to think it advocates reprehensible behaviors, but given time, it become clear that the society the novel represents is hardly admirable.  The lives of its citizens may be happy, but as one of the World Controllers, a top government official, admits, happiness is a hard master.  In order to achieve it, those citizens have had to give up much of what we believe makes life worth living.

 

Banned Books Week (BBW) is an annual event celebrating the freedom to read and the importance of the First Amendment.  Held during the last week of September, Banned Books Week highlights the benefits of free and open access to information while drawing attention to the harms of censorship by spotlighting actual or attempted bannings of books across the United States.

Intellectual freedom—the freedom to access information and express ideas, even if the information and ideas might be considered unorthodox or unpopular—provides the foundation for Banned Books Week.  BBW stresses the importance of ensuring the availability of unorthodox or unpopular viewpoints for all who wish to read and access them.

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