RSS

Category Archives: Brave new world

Brave New World: book review


Reading Brave New World feels like starting a trip at the top of a mountain and going down to finish in the valley underneath.

The first chapters show some of the most captivating reading I’ve come across in a long while and make the promise of a great story coming ahead. Sadly that story never really materializes. We meet the characters too far into the book, and then at about halfway the main character appears all of a sudden. None of the characters is, in my opinion, very likable.

In a sense it seems as if Huxley created a world down to the last detail and as he was writing the book realized he needed characters and a story to make a novel.

 

Even if the story itself is not amazing, as I have said, the writing is. You could quote almost every sentence in the book and analyze it, find the deeper meaning, and subject it to discussion. I guess that’s why this book is one of the compulsory school-reads so many teens dread.

If we take the novel as more than that and consider it an elaborate political and social critique that’s where Huxley excels. Almost every single thing he was criticising about the society of the early 30’s has become worse as we start the 21st century. More and more we want to be individualistic and stand out, but in doing so become part of a nameless mass.

Name Britney Spears and everyone knows who she is (even my 87-year-old grandmother), she is an icon,, but at the end of the day, I could have named her or any other good-looking American pop star, they all come from the same mold (and this is coming from someone who actually owns every single CD by Britney Spears and whose ringtone is Till the World Ends).

 

I was quite surprised to always see Brave New World compared to 1984. I wouldn’t put them together at all. They are part of the early sci-fi and they both showcase dystopias, but that’s where the similarities end.

1984 is very character driven, whether you like them or not, you can’t help feeling interested in them and the story they become part of is quite complex. The whole world system is a background for the story. In Brave New World the story is simply an excuse to showcase the world system presented. That said the physiological insight we get about the characters is brilliant. We see them doing things, and we get to understand why they do them, we get to know them.

 

I wouldn’t put Brave New World between my favourite books, those I grab whenever I don’t know what else to read. But I wouldn’t say I hate it either. It’s simply a one time book. I’ve read it, now I’m done with it.

Advertisements
 
 

Tags: , , , , , , ,

Brave New World: Chapter 16 and 17


When you come to the point of comparing Brave New World (the classic cult sci-fi book) to Kim Possible (the Disney cartoon about a teenage superhero) you know things are going downhill.

 

First of all, let me give you some background on Kim Possible (just in case you happen to be older than 12 and have never heard of the show). Kim is a popular cheerleader who divides her free-time between baby-sitting and saving the world. Ron Stoppable is Kim’s best friend and sidekick, he might seem to be useless but they work together. Dr. Drakken is Kim’s nemesis, the main bad guy of the cartoon.

Before I go on to my deep meaningful comparison, let me tell you that as a 25-year-old I think that Kim Possible is brilliant, especially the film A Sitch in Time. It is a cartoon but one that children and adults can enjoy in different ways (a bit like The Simpsons).

In one episode, I don’t remember which one, Dr. Drakken manages to get hold of Kim and Ron and then decides to kill them both, but before he does it Ron stops him saying that he is breaking the old-age tradition of evil villains of explaining their plans to the hero before killing them.

 

That is exactly what happens in Brave New World in chapters 15 and 16, Mustapha Mond decides that it might be interesting to go on an elongated two-chapter explanation on how the ethics of the World State work, how he was a rebel once and how he is planning to send each of them their own way to be punished.

The whole thing seems far-fetched, from the fact that Mond was given the option of being exiles or becoming a world leader to discussing world literature with John, or that he would even understand it (remember that he has been conditioned too).

 

In the end Bernard and Helmholtz go to the Falkland Islands (or Islas Malvinas, take your pick) by Helmholtz choice and John is to be kept in London to carry on with the experiment.

These chapters pretty much go on and on about the same topics we’ve been seing all throughout the novel so far, only that now rather than being implicitly shown they are explicitly discussed.

 

Opinion so far

Bernard keeps annoying me, there’s absolutely nothing to save his character for me. I still think that Helmholtz is the nicest character in the book (or at least the only one that I don’t feel like running over with my car).

These two chapters, like I said, are just not believable at all, and they disappointed me. Good thing: one more chapter to go and I’m done.

 

Tags: , , , , , , ,

Brave New World: Chapter 13, 14 and 15


If anyone thinks I am doing another three chapters at once because I’m lazy, they are right. If they happen to think I’m doing it because I’m awfully tired with the book, they are right as well. And if they think it is because I can’t be bothered to write about Brave New World anymore, they are right as well. With that forewarning, here we go.

 

In chapter 13 Lenina tries to get John in bed, but John refuses and then suddenly rushes out to…

…hospital in Chapter 14 because his mum, Linda, is about to die due to all the soma she’s been getting. He remembers their life together until she dies, and then…

…he completely loses it in Chapter 15, and starts getting rid of soma tablets starting a riot. Bernard and Helmholtz both come. Helmholtz starts helping John, whereas Bernard keeps showing his true colours by trying to look as if he is actively doing something but really just standing on the side being useless.

 

These three chapters are all about contradictions and contrasts. John’s and Lenina’s sexual desire and response to it. Attitude towards death. Reactions when someone does something to upset social stability.

Lenina is becoming quite a deep character, within the context of the society: she keeps being attracted to (and becoming obsessed with) men who stand out from the crowd, first Bernard and the John.

When in comes to John, these chapters show a different side to his personality that we haven’t seen before. He can be a nice, polite, educated man with strong moral values but he can also be violent and lose his temper quite fast.

 

Opinion so far

The story is quite interesting, but writing the summary I realized that the chapters could have been a lot shorter that they were, or indeed fused into one (just like I did 🙂 ).

All the civilized/savage contrast is getting a bit old. We get. We got it by chapter 7, were then reminded in chapter 8, and again and again all the way to chapter 15.

 
1 Comment

Posted by on July 14, 2011 in Aldous Huxley, Brave new world, Classics, Sci-fi

 

Tags: , , , , , ,

Brave New World: Chapter 11 and 12


In chapter 11 we see the downfall of our characters.

Bernard becomes a full-blown celebrity, who like most celebrities is an arrogant and self-centred idiot. Linda gets lost in a world of soma spending every minute high. Lenina tries to get John in bed. And John keeps developing his obsession with Lenina but restrains himself from doing anything physical with her, while becoming more and more disillusioned with the World State.

 

In chapter 12 Bernard gets what he deserves when John refuses to be used as a show monkey and doesn’t go to one of his parties. This makes Bernard become unpopular again. We see how Helmholtz is probably the only decent person in the whole book when he gives his friendship and support back to Bernard and strikes a new one with John.

 

And for how long they ar nothing really Earth shaking happens in these chapters. The most interesting quotes are quotes themselves (from Shakespeare).

 

Opinion so far

Finally Bernard and Lenina get what they deserve. It took me 12 chapters to see them suffer, but I got there. Helmholtz is definitely the nicest character in the whole book.

As you can probably see by how short the reviews are getting, I am getting frustrated with the book.

 

Tags: , , , , , ,

Brave New World: Chapter 8, 9 and 10


A cluster of three chapters: 8, 9 and 10 as they all go together quite well, and I’m a bit over the book at this point.

In chapter 8 we get to learn all about John’s past: how he is an outsider in the reserve, but doesn’t really agree with Linda’s morals either, leaving him in a sort of limb which he solves by adopting Shakespeare’s morals from reading The Complete Works of William Shakespeare, a book he got through Popé (one of Linda’s savage lovers).

And, at the end of the chapter Bernard offers John to take him to the civilized world, here’s where the name of the book becomes significant as John quotes Miranda from the Tempest:

But the young man had evidently not heard the question. “O wonder!” he was saying; and his eyes shone, his face was brightly flushed. “How many goodly creatures are there here! How beauteous mankind is!” The flush suddenly deepened; he was thinking of Lenina, of an angel in bottle-green viscose, lustrous with youth and skin food, plump, benevolently smiling. His voice faltered. “O brave new world,” he began, then-suddenly interrupted himself; the blood had left his cheeks; he was as pale as paper.

 

In chapter 9 Linda gets herself high on soma, Bernard jets to organize John’s trip to London, and John falls in love with Lenina.

There’s nothing about her in particular to make him fall in love, other than she is beautiful and he has idealized women from the World State thanks to his mum’s stories while he was growing up.

Also in this chapter is Mustapha Mond accepting to take on John. A thing that seems very strange for the World State where it is all about stability, bringing someone who obviously doesn’t belong to that society is going to shake things up, and Mond as one of the big bosses shouldn’t allow that. Ever.

 

In chapter 10, Bernard humiliates the Director by publicly telling the story of Linda and John, while at the same time avoiding being sent to Iceland due to his unconformity with society.

With his behaviour in this chapter we really get to see what Bernard is all about: he wants to think of himself as a higher person, someone who is better than the rest by being truly an individual, when in reality what he wants is to fit in. Given the first chance to stand out from the crowd he goes for it, even when it means destroying someone else’s life.

 

Opinion so far

So, Bernard and Lenina are still around but John is taking more of a central role, which is actually good, he is a whole lot more interesting than the other two.

I know I should be feeling sorry for John and how he doesn’t belong anywhere, but for some reason I’m not really connecting to the guy. I guess all the funny Shakespearian talk doesn’t really help. Though that is exactly one of the things that makes the book so great and interesting. I’m a bit decided when it comes to that.

The storyline is moving quite fast now, which is also good, as all the descriptions were starting to get annoying.

 

Tags: , , , , , ,

Brave New World – Chapter 7


We get to see the savages in this chapter. Finally!

They live in exactly the same way Europeans described savages to be living during their 19th century expeditions into the untamed lands. This particular reservation is in New Mexico, so I guess that similarity makes sense, especially if we consider that the novel is from 1932.

The savage land is controlled by superstition. The book doesn’t go over government, but there doesn’t seem to be a unified system, we only read of isolated pueblos.

I didn’t expect the savages to be so savage. I expected them to be more like us (that us being the generic Western society of the 30’s). I understand that they don’t really have access to science, but that doesn’t mean that all common knowledge should have been lost. No need for 40-year-old to be decrepit, old, fat and toothless.

 

Huxley makes the parallelisms between the savages and the civilized quite obvious through Lenina:

The top of the mesa was a flat deck of stone. “Like the Charing-T Tower,” was Lenina’s comment.

It reminded her reassuringly of the synthetic noises made at Solidarity Services and Ford’s Day celebrations. “Orgy-porgy,” she whispered to herself. These drums beat out just the same rhythms.

Which for a character with two grams of brain would be proof of how both cultures are inherently the same. But that would be too much to ask from Lenina.

 

We also meet Linda and John. Linda happens to be the woman the director casually mentioned to Bernard (I never saw that coming!), and John happens to be Linda’s and the director’s son. I actually did not see that one coming, props to Huxley for putting me back in my place.

 

Opinion so far

Thank you Huxley for giving us Linda and John! Characters that are actually likable and you can connect with because their sadness and feelings of inadequacy come from somewhere other than their own navel-staring.

They are both victims of circumstances they could not control and which have defied the ways their lives go.

John talks in an interesting way, but I can see that getting boring in two or three chapters. But, hey, I’m finally getting interested in the characters (and I’ve only read half the book).

 

Tags: , , , , , ,

Brave New World – Chapter 6


In chapter 5 Bernard tries to be the better, mature and responsible person but ends up showing that he is just like everyone else around.

Half an hour later they were back in his rooms. Bernard swallowed four tablets of soma at a gulp, turned on the radio and television and began to undress.

 

At the very beginning of the chapter Lenina and Bernard are flying and suddenly Bernard stops:

“Look,” he commanded.
“But it’s horrible,” said Lenina, shrinking back from the window. She was appalled by the rushing emptiness of the night, by the black foam-flecked water heaving beneath them, by the pale face of the moon, so haggard and distracted among the hastening clouds. “Let’s turn on the radio. Quick!” She reached for the dialling knob on the dash-board and turned it at random.

It’s quite interesting to see how one wants peace and quiet to be able to think and have a nice conversation, whereas the other just wants an easy distraction so that she doesn’t need to use her brain. Television, Play Station, xBox, Big Brother. And those didn’t even exist when the book was written!

 

Somewhere down the chapter the director half-mindedly lets slip a dark point of his personal history to the main character, someone who he doesn’t particularly like and is indeed trying to get rid off. As far as writing techniques go, this one made me get annoyed at Huxley. Such a disconnected piece of information will be important for the future development of the storyline. I just hoped it would have been more of a hidden hint. I guess J.K. Rowling, Dan Brown, and Diana Gabaldon have spoilt me.

 

Nothing extremely exciting happens for the rest of the chapter. We do get a bit more character development, and we get to know them better.

 

My favourite part of this chapter is:

For Bernard left the room with a swagger, exulting, as he banged the door behind him, in the thought that he stood alone, embattled against the order of things

I just loved seeing the word swagger (or should I write swaga?) used in an intellectual classic piece of literature. If Jay-Z fans knew about this, they wouldn’t consider themselves so cool, hip and rebellious anymore.

 

Opinion so far

Bernard and Lenina just keep getting more and more annoying. If I had them around I would probably hit them. Hard. At this point I keep reading just to see if they will suffer or end up dead or with missing limbs. Sadly, I don’t think that will happen.

The writing is still brilliant. Huxley certainly knew how to write in a way that is easy to read and keeps you coming back for more.

 
 

Tags: , , , , , ,

 
%d bloggers like this: