BBW Day 3: Brave New World by Aldous Huxley

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Friday – Contest to win The Chocolate War
Saturday – The Giver by Lois Lowry
Sunday – Harry Potter by J. K. Rowling
Monday – Today’s review of Brave New World

Today’s review of a banned/challenged book is for Brave New World by Aldous Huxley. I had managed to somehow avoid reading this novel right up until my third year of university, when it was assigned as one of the novels to read for ENGL 2262 – my Sci-fi/Fantasy class. I was actually worried about having to read this book – I had heard some not-so-good things about it. I’m glad I was ‘forced’ to read it, though. I ended up loving it! ENGL 2262 really cemented my love for post-apocalyptic, dystopian literature.

Brave New World Brave New World
by Aldous Huxley

Rating: 4 ♥ / 5 ♥ – I really liked it
ISBN – 13: 978-0-307-35654-3
Published: 1932
My edition: published in 2007, 272 pages long, Random House of Canada Publishing

Far in the future, the World Controllers have created the ideal society. Through clever use of genetic engineering, brainwashing and recreational sex and drugs, all its members are happy consumers. Bernard Marx seems alone in feeling discontent. Harbouring an unnatural desire for solitude, and a perverse distaste for the pleasure of compulsory promiscuity, Bernard has an ill-defined longing to break free. A visit to one of the few remaining Savage Reservations, where the old, imperfect life still continues, may be the cure for his distress.

 

REASONS FOR CHALLENGES/BANNING

Brave New World has not been on the Top 10 List since 2001. The book was on the list in 2008-2009. Aldous Huxley has not been on the Most Frequently Challenged Authors of the 21st Century (2001-now). Brave New World came in at number 54 on the 100 Most Frequently Challenged Books: 1990-1999 and can be found on the Banned and Challenged Classics list.

Most common reasons that were noted in suggestions for banning were: made promiscuous sex ‘look like fun’, language, moral content, sexual content, depictions of ‘orgies, self-flogging, suicide’, contempt for ‘religion, marriage and the family’, and drug use.

I don’t know if Brave New World hasn’t been on the lists in recent years because it’s 77 years old and people have newer books to object to, or just because it’s been challenged in so many schools and libraries there are none left.

REVIEW…beware of possible spoilers

I re-read the reading response on Brave New World I wrote for class two years ago, and I call the world that Aldous Huxley created “horrifying”. And it is. People are born into a caste system and they stay there. There is no possibility of moving up a caste. There are no families – people are conceived and grown in test tube-like eggs. Their formative years are spent in nurseries where they are routinely brainwashed with societal norms. They work, they play games, engage in recreational drugs and sex and form no monogamous relationships. To me, that is horrifying. But I absolutely loved the book. I’m a sucker for the end of the world and for horrifying worlds – they give me shivers.

While I may agree that the book does contain all the reasons people have stated to try and get Brave New World banned, it’s no reason to ban it. Personally, I think by the time we’re in high school we wouldn’t bat an eye at the book. And if people think other adults shouldn’t even read the book? Obviously they’re a lot more sensitive than most people. I read Brave New World when I was 21 and my reaction was not that promiscuous sex, orgies, and drugs were fun. It was not that the author showed contempt for religion, marriage and the family. I didn’t blink at the language (since we hear just as bad, is not worse, every day in school, in malls, on the streets, maybe even at home). I thought it was horrifying, which is what I believe Aldous Huxley was actually going for. I doubt he wrote this book hoping people would be like “oh yes, let’s go have sex with as many people as I can while hoped up on drugs”.

The main character in Huxley’s book, Bernard, seems to realize that his world is not perfect. He wants a monogamous relationship. He thinks the drug use and entertainment is getting boring. The book is about Bernard’s journey to try and figure out why his society is like it is, and if it’s really the best way – if the old way was not better after all. Brave New World makes you think, and wonder if “perfect happiness” is really perfect, or happy. The novel starts with a tour through the plant where children are made and grown, and the nurseries – it thrusts you into the science and disbelief immediately. I really enjoyed this book, even more so because it was written in 1932. Huxley’s mind was obviously a brilliant place.

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