Brave New World

I was a few days behind schedule in finishing Brave New World. We had lots of goings-on here which kept me from finishing the book according to schedule, not the least of which was Flamenco Dad’s performance in the opera, Zoe having to get fitted for glasses, and assorted other stuff with the kids. Having said all this, let me go on record as saying that this book rocks! I enjoyed Huxley even more than I thought I would. I highly recommend it, and I’m looking forward to reading more Huxley in the future.

Some thoughts on Brave New World:

My Russian Literature professor told me that not only did Aldous Huxley steal the idea for this dystopian novel from Yevgeny Zamyatin, but that he actually had the stones to deny it, arguing that he had never even heard of We.  Apparently George Orwell gives a nod to Zamyatin in 1984, but I haven’t read that one yet (it’s on the list, so look for it to appear here in the future). Whether or not you believe that Huxley did pretty much swipe the idea for the novel from Zamyatin’s We, Huxley still tells a heck of a story. Aldous Huxley is a genius. There, I said it. Sorry, Dr. Peppard.

There’s lots of the same stuff here as there is in Zamyatin’s novel: collectivism on steroids, this book presents the idea of a one world order, where a monolithic governing body controls every aspect of people’s lives.  Those who live outside the collective are viewed as savages or deviants. Strangely, in the “civilized” world they engage in behaviors that are very far removed from what we would consider a civililzed society today. They have turned their backs on the past, they reject high art for the sake of industrialization and conformity.

Ah, the mysterious elixir that is soma—learned about this in Religions of South Asia class, though in this novel the drug appears in pill form. Reference to soma is made in the Rigveda, or the Vedas, an ancient religious text. Gotta love how a solid liberal arts education is a gift that just keeps on giving. Thanks, Dr. Lopez (I just feel like giving some of my professors props today for all the interesting stuff I learned…and mysteriously managed to retain)!

What would Sir Thomas More have to say about this book? I read Utopia in one of my Brit Lit survey courses. I’m thinking that, given what a religious man he was, More would be pretty upset about how religion is completely rejected in this utopia. In class I learned that ‘utopia’ can be translated to either ‘happy place’ or ‘no place,’ or both. I’m guessing that More (and many others) are glad that this no-happy place is but a figment of Huxley’s (or Zamyatin’s, or Orwell’s) imagination.

As for the next book, you ask? I’ve selected a book that was listed in my recent poll (though it, sadly, got no votes): The Social Contract by Jean-Jacques Rousseau. Au revoir!

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