Aldous Huxley (1894-1963), English novelist


The book

References to:
George Orwell - 1984
"Brave New World" (1932), written by Aldous Huxley, is an anti-utopian novel, juxtaposed to novels by Wells, and his positive idea of progress. According to Huxley, the modern civilization makes corrupted society: only apparently it's positive, but hides great eviles: with progress, the mankind is going to be dehumanised and manipulated, a perfect and hypocrit happiness is more important than human's freedom.
There's a clash between John, the Savage Man, and Mustapha, the Modern Man, on this question: John considers very important literature, especially Shakespeare, and freedom, Mustapha is persuaded that art has to be sacrificed to the stability, and that happiness is the most important principle of life and society: his idea of happiness is utopian, because it consists in a continuous satisfaction of any kind of desire. But this happiness is possible only through a general brainwash and taking on a synthetic drug named "soma".

OPPOSITION OF DIFFERENT WORLDS
Two worlds are opposed: a modern, aseptic, illusory, almost virtual world, represented by London, in which there are no boredom, no dissatisfation, no private property,no istitutions but only the duty to be happy and deprivation of natural rights; a primitive and savage world, represented by New Mexico, in which man lives according to nature, having the right to be unhappy, afflicted by diseases and aches, free from the conditioning of society. Between the two, the modern world will get the upper hand on the other: the Savage will committ suicide and the progress will triumph inevitably.

SOCIETY
Is a consumer and communist society based on three principles: Community, Identity and Stability:

-Community: it's more important than individual, it's omologated.
-Identity: the individual identity is lost in favour of the mass.
-Stability: it conveys the perfect happiness, and consists in an absence of dangers, emotions, novelties, imperfections, struggles to live or to be happy.

HAPPINESS VS FREEDOM
THE IMPORTANCE OF HAPPINESS:"(...)Our Ford himself did a great deal to shift the emphasis from truth and beauty to comfort and happiness. Mass production demanded the shift. Universal happiness keeps the wheels steadily turning; truth and beauty can't. And, of course, whenever the masses seized political power, then it was happiness rather than truth and beauty that mattered. Still, in spite of everytung, unrestricted scientific research was still permitted. People still went on talking about truth and beauty as though they were the sovereign goods. Right up to the time of the Nine Years' War. That made them change their tune all right. What's the point of truth or beauty or knowledge when the anthrax bombs are popping all around you? That was when science first began to be controlled–after the Nine Years' War. People were ready to have even their appetites controlled then. Anything for a quiet life. We've gone on controlling ever since. It hasn't been very good for truth, of course. But it's been very good for happiness. One can't have something for nothing. Happiness has got to be paid for. You're paying for it, Mr. Watson–paying because you happen to be too much interested in beauty. I was too much interested in truth; I paid too." (Mustapha Mond to John, Chapter XVI)
THE IMPORTANCE OF FREEDOM:"But do you like being slaves?" the Savage was saying as they entered the Hospital. His face was flushed, his eyes bright with ardour and indignation. "Do you like being babies? Yes, babies. Mewling and puking," he added, exasperated by their bestial stupidity into throwing insults at those he had come to save. The insults bounced off their carapace of thick stupidity; they stared at him with a blank expression of dull and sullen resentment in their eyes. "Yes, puking!" he fairly shouted. Grief and remorse, compassion and duty–all were forgotten now and, as it were, absorbed into an intense overpowering hatred of these less than human monsters. "Don't you want to be free and men? Don't you even understand what manhood and freedom are?" Rage was making him fluent; the words came easily, in a rush. "Don't you?" he repeated, but got no answer to his question. "Very well then," he went on grimly. "I'll teach you; I'll make you be free whether you want to or not." And pushing open a window that looked on to the inner court of the Hospital, he began to throw the little pill-boxes of soma tablets in handfuls out into the area. (John The Savage to the twins, Chapter XV)

DANGERS FOR STABILITY
These are especially two: art and science, because "truth and beauty are dangerous". But also individual consciousness, passions, istitutions and repression of desire.

TIME AND DEIFICATION OF PROGRESS
Time is divided into two epochs: before Ford (B.F) and after Ford (A.F). This choice is important for the analisys: it's the progress, the "Advent" of Ford T, to determine the division of history, the cross is a "T" and in this way Ford is considered like God. The God of Progress is the only cult in an atheist and "communist" society which refuses all the istitutions (family, church, marriage).
"All crosses had their tops cut and became T's. There was also a thing called God."
"God isn't compatible with machinery and scientific medicine and universal happiness. You must make your choice. Our civilization has chosen machinery and medicine and happiness. That's why I have to keep these books locked up in the safe. They're smut. People would be shocked it..."
(Mustapha Mond, Chapter III, XVII)

DEFINITION OF PROGRESS
"Now; such is progress; the old men work, the old men copulate, the old men have no time, no leisure from pleasure, not a moment to sit down and think; or if ever by some unlucky chance such a crevice of time should yawn in the solid substance of their distractions, there is always soma, delicious soma, half a gramme for a half-holiday, a gramme for a week-end, two grammes for a trip to the gorgeous East, three for a dark eternity on the moon; returning whence they find themselves on the other side of the crevice, safe on the solid ground of daily labour and distraction, scampering from feely to feely, from girl to pneumatic girl, from Electromagnetic Golf course to...;" (Mustapha Mond, Chapter III)
But all is a mere illusion, and a slavery for men.

PROGRESS AS EVIL
The Savage isolates himself from BNW to find purification and loneliness, and auto-fustigates himself to feel ache, to be free from the false happiness of BNW.

REFUSAL OF HISTORY AND FUTURE
"History is bunk" ("la storia una sciocchezza", Chapter III) is a motto of New Fordian Society, in which people prefer to forgot past and to live in present: history, infact, has not value and it's only a waste of time.
But neither future is considered important: "was and will make me ill," she quoted, "I take a gramme and only am." (Lenina Crowne about the soma, Chapter VI)

CHARACTERS
The choice of their names isn't casual: they're named Lenina Crowne, Bernard Marx, Polly Trotsky, Sarojini Engels. The use of names belonging to teoricals and politicals of communism reveals a critic of marxist ideas of history and society: in this society, there isn't the "fight of class", because every man is predestinated to a social class (Alpha, Beta, Gamma, Delta or Epsilon) before his birth. There is not revolution, because the principal purpose of society is the stabilitity, which aim is to achieve the general happiness, that's possible with a massification of population, thoughts and opportunities.
The critical on this political and scientific system derives from an irrationalistic rebellion, and from a deep sense of disillusion from the idea of progress.


Turn back to: (The great dictatorships of '900)