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July Books 43) Brave New World

43) Brave New World, by Aldous Huxley

After the Plato discussion a few days ago, I happened to spot a copy of Brave New World in a charity shop for 50p, and snapped it up, eager to see how accurately I had remembered it.

Two things I had forgotten: it is a very quick read - less than 240 pages - and the characterisation of the male characters is acute (less so the women). It is also pretty funny in places, although it does bring home to you how sexually neurotic the 1930s were. The final tragedy is entirely believable.

I was glad that I seem to have remembered correctly the key points of difference with Plato. In fact chapters XVI and XVII, the final confrontation between the Savage and Mustapha Mond, are in places almost an explicit argument with The Republic, especially on the crucial question of aesthetics. Mond actually says, "that's the price we have to pay for stability. You've got to choose between happiness and what people used to call high art. We've sacrificed the high art." He then goes on to tell the story of what sounds very like an unsuccessful attempt to establish a society along Plato's principles (in, of all places, Cyprus). So I am satisfied that I Am Right.


( 1 comment — Leave a comment )
Jul. 30th, 2007 07:49 pm (UTC)
It was only greatly in retrospect that I registered "Brave New World" is meant to be funny. What struck me the most when I read it (apart from the plot and the characters and the crazy future society and all that) was the book's technique. In particular the bit near the beginning where Huxley starts writing as though he is directing a film by Eisenstein is incredibly impressive, where the narrative gets all montage on our ass, breaking down into ever shorter snippets as it cuts between ten different scenes. I have often wondered whether Huxley ever wrote anything which in its formalism could compare with that.
( 1 comment — Leave a comment )

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