Thursday, 15 December 2016


Aldous Huxley's BRAVE NEW WORLD is part of an unforgettable trilogy of masterpieces which are strictly connected each to the other. The other two novels are 1984 by George Orwell and Ray Bradbury's FAHRENHEIT 451. They are all science fiction dystopian novels, not my favourite genre,  but the three of them left an indelible mark inside me. There is science fiction and science fiction. These three novels are amazingly interesting and frighteningly premonitory.

They all imagine life in a dystopian society, under totalitarian regimes, in which human beings are dehumanized and totally deprived of their freedom.

In Brave New World , set in the future year A. F . 632 ( 632 years after the advent of the American magnate Henry Ford), the stability of the World State is maintained through a combination of biological engineering and exhaustive conditioning. The citizens have not been born but "hatched" to fill their predestined social roles. In infancy the virtues of passive obedience, material consumption and mindless promiscuity are inculcated upon them by means of hypnopedia or sleep - teaching. In later life the citizens of the World State are given free handouts of soma , the Government  - approved dope. The World State's motto is: "Community, Identity, Stability". The World State is divided into ten zones, each run by a Resident World Controller. "His fordshisp", Mustapha Mond, the controller of the Western European Zone centred in London, heads a hierarchical, factory-like concern with a mass of Epsilon- Minus Semi - Moron bred for menial labour at the base and with castes of increasing ability ranked above them. Immediately below Mond there are a caste of Alpha- Plus intellectuals. Bernard Marx and Helmhotz Watson are members of this elite, but both have developed subversive tendencies, taking delight in such deviant pleasures as being alone and abstaining from sex.

The only other human beings permitted to exist beyond the pale of the World State are the inhabitants of the various Savage Reservations. Segregated by electrified fences from the Fordian hell which surrounds them, the savages still get married, make love, give birth and die as of old. It is while visiting the Reservation in New Mexico that Bernard Marx meets a savage named John, whom he brings to London. John's disruptive presence in London will give the reader the possibility to share his perspective of that full totalitarian horror of AF. 632.

My favourite pages in this novel are in chapter 16. Mustapha Mond, the Controller of the Western European Zone, and John the Savage talk about books and the main values in the World State : Order and Stability. Bernard Marx and Helmhotz Watson are there too. According to Mond the freedom of knowledge is the first they have to deny their citizens. Freedom must be sacrificed to maintain order and stability...


 (first posted on my FLY HIGH! blog on  8th april 2010)

John the Savage and the right to be unhappy

But I don't want comfort. I want God, I want poetry, I want real danger, I want freedom, I want goodness. I want sin."
"In fact," said Mustapha Mond, "you're claiming the right to be unhappy."
"All right then," said the Savage defiantly, "I'm claiming the right to be unhappy."
"Not to mention the right to grow old and ugly and impotent; the right to have syphilis and cancer; the right to have too little to eat; the right to be lousy; the right to live in constant apprehension of what may happen to-morrow; the right to catch typhoid; the right to be tortured by unspeakable pains of every kind." There was a long silence.
"I claim them all," said the Savage at last. 

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