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 Brave New World by Aldous Huxley

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Paul
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PostSubject: Brave New World by Aldous Huxley   Thu Jan 13, 2011 12:43 am

I still feel that "1984" is the best dystopian novel, but this one comes close. The two books are so opposite yet the main theme of control by an unyielding government is the same. While "1984" shows people controlled by fear, repression, and constant surveillance, "Brave New World" has people controlled by biological and psychological manipulation, a constant stimulation of pleasure senses and constant surveillance.

The main character is John "Savage", so named because he was not raised in the Society, but on a segregated Native American reservation in New Mexico. He is ostracized on the reservation, along with his mother (his biological birth, and not a birth through a test tube, is why he and his mother are there in the first place), and dreams of the "Brave New World" that his mother has described on the outside. The Savage and his mother are eventually removed from the reservation by a whiny Alpha named Bernard (everyone in Society has been biologically created to be a "Alpha", "Beta", "Delta", etc., with those with responsibilities made into Alphas and those made with lesser intelligence and given menial tasks made into Epsilons) who has issues of his own. "Society" has never seen anything quite like Savage. Savage, for his part, quickly becomes disillusioned with the "Brave New World".

Unfortunately, "Society" is loathe to give up John Savage, which leads to the sadly inevitable ending.

This "Society" controls its members by making them believe they have the happiest of lives, no matter their station and class, with unlimited sex and a "holiday" drug called soma. People are given hypnotic suggestions in their sleep (since birth) that this is all they need to be happy: that, and do the functions that "Society" has chosen for them. If people are happy, they will not feel discontent and rise up to challenge those in power. John Savage is the only one who truly sees the horrible lie that this is.

I enjoyed this book, and very much recommend it. It is a great companion piece to the Orwell novel.

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PostSubject: Re: Brave New World by Aldous Huxley   Sat Jan 15, 2011 8:35 am

Thanks for the review. I plan to read that novel sometime. I can't get a paperback copy, and I dislike electronic reading.
Anyway, it sounds interesting. If it's almost as good as 1984, it must be quite something.
I am generally attracted to the dystopia genre in both novels and movies. Although in my opinion the movies Equilibrium and the squeals of the Matrix were terrible and a disappointment, respectively, I hope to see a good adaption of 1984 by a director who actually respects the source material. If Jack Black plays Winston Smith (I'm referring to the recent Gulliver's travels) I will kill somebody Wink. V for Vendetta was something I liked, and it brought out the inner anarchist (I did hold a lengthy debate against anarchism; that is to say I am not one).

I read an article arguing that Ray Bradbury never meant Fahrenheit 451 (yes, it was on cracked.com Embarassed ) to be against government censorship, and was arguing against how modern society drives down the quality of life. It's actually quite conceivable, as that theme is the most prevalent, and is presented in a way to cause thoughtfulness and a reassessment in the reader.
How do you feel about dystopia novels? I once read an actually slightly intelligent argument against 1984 on Y!A, which was nice compared to the average teenager whining that it was boring. The user argued that it could not be of much use, as it was impossible to relate and draw comparisons between present society and Orwell's, so it just increased 'the Red scare'.
How was the recent hit The Hunger Games? I've heard positive reviews, but didn't like the sound of it.
I refuted his arguments (and was not picked for best answer, if I recall correctly,Very Happy), but I am interested in your thoughts, LC...
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PostSubject: Re: Brave New World by Aldous Huxley   Tue Jul 19, 2011 2:21 pm

I'm still a very big fan of dystopian novels, but more especially of dystopian short stories. However, I feel that in a globalised world like the one we live in today, they lose some of their power. Being constantly watched is becoming more and more normal, to the point that when the British were asked to send in suggestions for a new national motto, one of the suggestions with the highest ratings was "Smile - you're on CCTV". Nowadays, it's not biggie if Mr Zuckerberg decides to sell your private life to some obscure Russian internet company, or if your every movement can be watched online via Google. Your phone calls and mail can easily be screened by the government if they say you might somehow be connected to Al Qaida. (And hearing what comes out of Washington these days - sorry, US-American LCers -, practically everyone is somehow connected to Al-Qaida.)

Practically, we're living in "1984".

And that is exactly why dystopian novels lose their momentum. When today's teenagers read them, the worst I get to hear is "Well, it's not like they're in any real danger, is it?" - especially, but not exclusively, when reading "Brave New World". I can ask them why it is a problem that everyone must be happy all the time - and all I get are blank faces. In today's society, ruling out anything uncomfortable or unhappy actually seems to be desirable - and that scares me very much.

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PostSubject: Re: Brave New World by Aldous Huxley   Sat Jul 30, 2011 8:41 pm

I agree with your political view, Laura. I find it frustrating that privacy is not valued highly in society, especially in British society. Maybe I should stay in Taiwan Wink.

Dystopian short stories sound intriguing. Any recommendations??
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PostSubject: Re: Brave New World by Aldous Huxley   Sat Jul 30, 2011 11:48 pm

Ray Bradbury, A sound of thunder. It's not strictly dystopian, but it offers a very pessimistic view of what the world might be like soon.

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PostSubject: Re: Brave New World by Aldous Huxley   Fri Aug 05, 2011 2:23 pm

Thanks. That's actually not the first recommendation I've heard for his short stories, which are supposed to be quite something. I'll check it out when I get time...
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