Saturday, February 8, 2014

B/C BBC: February

The Banned/Challenged Books Book Club returns this month, and it is a "Brave New World!"

I first read Aldous Huxley's Brave New World in my freshman high school Honors English class, and at first I wasn’t sure how to process the story.  But after rereading a few years later, it has become one of my favorite books.

The dystopian story takes place in London, England in a time where family has become obsolete and children are born from bottles.  Sex and emotion don’t go together anymore.  People are bred into different intelligence castes to perform different roles in society.  People living by old ways are considered savages.  Henry Ford is their god.  “Everyone belongs to everyone else.”  A look into what society could become.

The book has quite a bit of controversy around it.  The sexual exploits of the novel have been considered “pornographic” by some.  Others have claimed it is anti-family and anti-religion.  Huxley eventually came back to the novel and did Brave New World Revisited in the late 50s, in which he estimated whether society was moving more towards the vision he saw in the novel or farther away.  He concluded we had moved closer to that vision faster than he previously thought.  An interesting observation given that that occurred quite a while ago, and you could argue society has come close to Huxley’s vision today.  What would he say about the world now if he saw it?

The reason I enjoy the novel so much is the dystopian element. So much of that society is reflective of what we live in today, yet so much is different.  The family is still valued, but sexual freedom has become far more prevalent.  We have a type of cast society based on wealth not intelligence, but we haven’t started mass producing offspring in bottles.

Here are some of my favorite quotes:

“What man has joined, nature is powerless to put asunder.” pg. 22

“They’ll be safe from books and botany all their lives.” pg.22 (as if books are dangerous! what nonsense!)

“A man can smile and smile and be a villain.” pg. 132

“One of the principal functions of a friend is to suffer (in a milder and symbolic form) the punishments that we should like, but are unable, to inflict on our enemies.” pg. 179

“No, of course it isn’t necessary.  But some kind of baseness are nobly undergone,  I’d like to undergo something nobly.  Don’t you see?” pg. 190

“He was a philosopher, if you know what that was.” “A man who dreams of fewer things than there are in heaven and earth.” pg. 231

My quote list could continue on for ages.  Since the concept and Huxley’s style of writing are so wonderful to me, the book holds too much to try and put down.  While some consider the topics enclosed in Huxley’s story taboo or inappropriate, I think nowadays it is more accurate to say people should be offended by it because that is what they’ve become.