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essieness's avatar

I just finished reading Brave New World by Aldous Huxley. Have you read it?

Asked by essieness (7698points) February 24th, 2009

If so, what did you think?

I haven’t had time to sit on it and let it all soak in, but I wanted to find out what some of you thought of it… Did it affect you deeply, or did you only find it mildly entertaining? I want to hear any thoughts!!

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38 Answers

Judi's avatar

One of those books that I read 30 plus years ago that I still think about. Just be careful what you say!!!!!

jrpowell's avatar

This soma is delicious.

forestGeek's avatar

Read it and I loved it!! Definitely one of those books that has made me think a great deal about it well after I finished it!

classyfied's avatar

Nope, but it’s definitely on my list!

augustlan's avatar

Soma! I’ve read it several times. I love the ideas in the book, but not the execution of them. I’m not a big fan of the actual writing.

sdeutsch's avatar

@augustlan I agree – I read it a long time ago, and while I loved the ideas and it kept me thinking for a long time, I didn’t really enjoy reading it very much. I’m one of those people who reads books over and over again, but I’ve never really wanted to re-read that one – it’s kind of sad, because the concept is really wonderful…

Jeruba's avatar

Yes, long ages ago. One of the first to show me in the innocence of my youth how much I was taking for granted about the world I lived in.

essieness's avatar

@augustlan and @sdeutsch It’s interesting that neither of you enjoyed reading it, because I really did. Actually, I basically devoured it! I wonder if you reread it now years later if you might enjoy it more? I’ll admit it was weird, but I think that’s what I liked about it.

shilolo's avatar

I love that book, and it is spooky that we’re not that far from having it become reality.
Soma = ecstasy.
Hatcheries = IVF, surrogate parenthood, cloning.
Alphas = Liberal Democrats.
Epsilons = Conservative Republicans (Ok, sorry, I couldn’t resist).

fireside's avatar

I was recently thinking about going back and rereading those books that we were assigned as summer reading for high school one year.

1984 – Orwell
Brave New World – Huxley
Childhood’s End – Clarke

essieness's avatar

I’m sitting here thinking about it and I think that if I had tried to read Brave New World or 1984 in high school… wait, I did read 1984 back then… well, I was going to say I probably wouldn’t have gotten either of them… and come to think of it, I didn’t. This seems to be the sentiment of others I know who have read these books as well. I wonder if they’re a little too advanced for that age group?

fireside's avatar

I would rather be given advanced reading than be subjected to studying the lowest common denominator. It’s about training your brain to handle complex concepts, even if you don’t get into them until later.

[edit] – not that i think these books are too advanced for high school students. They have many layers and will probably be more enjoyable to read over again now that I have a wider worldview and experience pool.

essieness's avatar

@fireside Good point. Maybe I was too worried about extracurricular activities back then, ha!

tonedef's avatar

My interest was already flagging when the dude went to the reservation to meet his mother, but then it just crashed after that. Like @augustlan and @sdeutsch, I thought that the writing was really lacking. Aldous Huxley was just really into himself, I think.

It’s really more of a relic than a haunting cautionary tale. It debuted amidst big advances in the world of behavior analysis, when Skinner was raising his babies in boxes, and when there was genuine paranoia that this could become the norm.

For more significant and timeless cautionary dystopia tales, read “On the Beach,” “The Wanting Seed,” or “1984.”

essieness's avatar

@tonedef I’ll have to check out On the Beach and The Wanting Seed. Thanks for the recommendations.

bythebay's avatar

I read it several years ago, and found it a little tedious but also thought provoking. I did think about it for some time after and had several in depth conversations with other friends about it. Now On The Beach was an altogether different story – it totally rocked me into a fear stricken panic. So disturbing. The Wanting Seed didn’t scare me as much, but it did disturb me on a deeper level. The blatant hatred, manipulation & control was troublesome.

aprilsimnel's avatar

I first read the book in 9th grade. The writing is pedestrian and clumsy, but the many of the ideas from it made me sad.

The image that struck me most deeply was of the Epsilon elevator operator. All the real joy he had in his life was to take people up to the roof and for those few seconds – that was it. Roof! ::shudders:: Doomed to turn 60 and be sent off to the crematorium to become fertilizer.

Oh, and all the conditioning with the hypno-audio. That’s happening for real all day everyday to to almost everyone. Maybe not in boxes, but with messages from boxes to buy, to accept. Messages from parents to kids, from schools to kids: Conform, conform. I’m aware I’ve swallowed some of it too, just to not feel left out and to fit in.

I think because I’ve gone along to get along many times and knew that I was doing it was why I was angry at the Alpha Plus Plus dude being all freaked out by the prospect of going to the island and separating from the society he supposedly hated. It was a good thing! And he couldn’t see it until it was pointed out to him. Some Alpha Plus Plus he was, huh?

sdeutsch's avatar

@essieness You’re right, I really should try reading it again – it’s been several years, and I might enjoy it more now than I did then. At the time, I think I had just finished reading 1984, and someone suggested Brave New World to me as a similar book. The writing in 1984 was just so excellent that there was no comparison – but now that I have some distance from that, I might like it more than I did…

mcbealer's avatar

Yes, I remember back in high school sitting in these deep comfy chairs they still have at the Coral Gables Public Library and just devouring his writing. It’s definitely the type of book you can revisit many years later and it will again be a worthy read.

LostInParadise's avatar

I remember reading Brave New World way back when I was in high school and I remember discussions of whether Brave New World or 1984 was the more likely model for social disintegration.

I think the most chilling vision of dystopia is H G Wells’s Time Machine. It is also quite well written. If you read it metaphorically you can take it to talk about the infantilization of consumer culture and of being preyed upon (in the book, quite literally) by technocrats.

Blondesjon's avatar

I don’t grok soma.

that was for you valentine michael smith

augustlan's avatar

@shilolo It’s even weirder… Soma is an actual prescription drug now! “Soma is a muscle relaxer that works by blocking pain sensations between the nerves and the brain.”

The most recent time I read the book was last summer (I’m 41). I don’t think it’s too complex to understand at a younger age. I just don’t like the writing style. The writing in 1984 was much better.

btko's avatar

I liked it at first and then the ending just went way too far for me… but I read it a long time ago. Maybe I should give it another go.

90s_kid's avatar

I did not.

amanderveen's avatar

@Blondesjon – Oh, to grok in fullness.

Blondesjon's avatar

@amanderveen…I know. I totally grok Heinlen.

jubal harshaw is one of the coolest literary characters of all time

mrswho's avatar

I read it in 9th grade and really liked it. The Model “T” thing and Ford worship was a little silly, but over all, it was a good read. The disposable clothes bit, delightful. That part is in our near future. I did not like the ending though. It felt like it was a last minute jab to finish the book. Same thing with “Fahrenheit451”. 1984 was better, the ending pwned. I know they’re different, but rockin the same dystopian theme. I still think about where I would be in that society.

kevinhardy's avatar

yes its a great book

augustlan's avatar

Oh! I just finished Anthem by Ayn Rand. I liked it much more then Brave New World. Now I’ve got to get my hands on Fountainhead.

mrswho's avatar

@augustlan I preferred Ayn’s writing style but I liked/agreed with the philosophy of Brave New World more. Anthem struck me as too cold and selfish. It is well written though.

fundevogel's avatar

It was interesting, but I didn’t like how at the end he stops to literally spell everything out for his audience. It was a pretty clear message, no further explanation needed Aldous Huxley.

sdeutsch's avatar

@augustlan Have you read Atlas Shrugged? I really liked Anthem, but Atlas Shrugged was even better (and I liked them both far more than Brave New World). Haven’t read Fountainhead yet, but it’s on my list…

augustlan's avatar

I have read Atlas Shrugged, but it has been many, many years. I remember that I liked it, but that’s all I remember! I need to read it again.

Siren's avatar

I liked it: thought-provoking, avante-garde (for its time) and just well-written. I read it over 15 years ago, and certain events in the book still resonate with me.

Worth a second read in my opinion.

Jiminez's avatar

Yep. Read it about a month or two ago; thought it was a bit overrated. I was expecting more. Maybe that was the problem, though; my expectations.

essieness's avatar

@Jiminez Maybe so. I had no expectations and loved it. I felt that way about The Stranger by Albert Camus. My English Lit major friend went on and on about it and how great it is, and maybe I’m just a literary idiot, but I hated it.

bea2345's avatar

I read it a long time ago. It is time to read it again.

EdMayhew's avatar

It’s a good book, but Huxley is a bit of a one trick pony. It’s just a shame that it was all so downhill from there – his other books really are lowest common denominator shite. After I read Brave New World I naturally wanted to read more from this great writer and it was a massive let down, spoiled it for me. My advice to you would be to enjoy the story, and don’t go within 100 yards of any of his other books!


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