Aldous Huxley

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Banned Books 2018 – JUNE READ – Brave New World by Aldous Huxley

Published June 25, 2018 by bibliobeth

What’s it all about?:

Now more than ever: Aldous Huxley’s enduring “masterpiece … one of the most prophetic dystopian works of the 20th century” ( Wall Street Journal ) must be read and understood by anyone concerned with preserving the human spirit in the face of our “brave new world”

Aldous Huxley’s profoundly important classic of world literature, Brave New World is a searching vision of an unequal, technologically-advanced future where humans are genetically bred, socially indoctrinated, and pharmaceutically anesthetized to passively uphold an authoritarian ruling order–all at the cost of our freedom, full humanity, and perhaps also our souls. “A genius [who] who spent his life decrying the onward march of the Machine” (The New Yorker), Huxley was a man of incomparable talents: equally an artist, a spiritual seeker, and one of history’s keenest observers of human nature and civilization. Brave New World, his masterpiece, has enthralled and terrified millions of readers, and retains its urgent relevance to this day as both a warning to be heeded as we head into tomorrow and as thought-provoking, satisfying work of literature. Written in the shadow of the rise of fascism during the 1930s, Brave New World likewise speaks to a 21st-century world dominated by mass-entertainment, technology, medicine and pharmaceuticals, the arts of persuasion, and the hidden influence of elites.

Logo designed by Luna’s Little Library

Welcome to the sixth banned book in our series for 2018! As always, we’ll be looking at why the book was challenged, how/if things have changed since the book was originally published and our own opinions on the book. Here’s what we’ll be reading for the rest of the year:

JULY: Julie Of The Wolves -Jean Craighead George
AUGUST: I Am Jazz– Jessica Herthel
SEPTEMBER: Taming The Star Runner– S.E. Hinton
OCTOBER: Beloved -Toni Morrison
NOVEMBER: King & King -Linda de Haan
DECEMBER: Flashcards Of My Life– Charise Mericle Harper
For now, back to this month:

Brave New World by Aldous Huxley

First published: 1932

In the Top Ten most frequently challenged books in 2010 (source)

Reasons: insensitivity, offensive language, racism, sexually explicit.

Do you understand or agree with any of the reasons for the book being challenged when it was originally published?

BETH:  First of all, I’m so, so surprised that this book was only put on the ALA Banned & Challenged Books List in 2010! Not because I believe it should be banned or challenged, not at all. But Brave New World is counted as quite the classic and is one of the oldest books we’ve read and reviewed, being published in 1932 so I’m wondering if there were so many issues with it, why wasn’t it put on the list earlier? Food for thought. Anyway, I’ve already mentioned that I love trying to figure out the reasons why a book might be problematic (for some) before looking at the reasons and I’m always, ALWAYS surprised by the reasons they end up listing. For example, in Brave New World, they worship Henry Ford (founder of the Ford car company) as their God and in one particular scene at the end, suggest that the people who worshipped Jesus/God in the past were delusional. Aha, I thought! One of the reasons for this book being challenged is that it is anti-religion! Nope. That’s not a reason.

Instead, as with many of the books we’ve looked at so far, the reasons just make me laugh. Even thinking about back in the thirties, I’m struggling to figure out how this story could have been insensitive or offend anyone with the language. Unless they’re considering the whole growing embryos in bottles thing? Or deliberately depriving said embryos of certain vital materials i.e. oxygen to make them a lower class of people? Which of course makes for horrendous reading but at the end of the day, it is just a story and if you’re particularly sensitive to that sort of thing, you just put the book down, right?

CHRISSI: I can’t believe that it wasn’t banned earlier as well. I’ve known about it forever, even though I hadn’t read it earlier.  It was always one that I had known as a controversial read. Some of the reasons do make me roll my eyes. However, I can see that this book would make people uncomfortable. I certainly felt that way with this book.

How about now?

BETH: It’s quite frightening to think that nowadays we live in such a scientifically advanced age that things like this could be possible. Aldous Huxley has chosen a controversial and insightful topic to base his novel around and the culture and world he describes is horrifying of course! Yet when you mention reasons as racism or being sexually explicit as reasons for taking it out of people’s hands, I just don’t get it. The lower classes in Brave New World are treated disgustingly and this made for quite an uncomfortable reading experience at times but I think the author is deliberately trying to push our buttons and realise what living in a world like this could be like. And with the sexual explicitness? I roll my eyes. Our female lead removes her underwear by unzipping it. Saucy! Also, the people living in this world have quite open sexual relationships with a number of partners. Okay. BUT there is no graphic mention of sexual acts at all (which counts as sexually explicit in my opinion). So just by mentioning the word “sex,” it’s too graphic? Please!

CHRISSI: I think there’s much more explicit content out there. I think Aldous Huxley was totally pushing the boundaries, especially the time in which he wrote this book. As I mentioned before, this book made me feel uncomfortable. Perhaps because, as Beth mentioned, things like this could potentially happen now. That scares me.

What did you think of this book?:

BETH:  Brave New World is a re-read for me and I seem to get something different out of it every time I read it. The part with the embryos and the way they are modified depending on the social class they are in is horrible and I’m always moved when I read it. This time around, I did find some parts a bit slower and hard to digest but generally, this is a fascinating classic that I think everyone should be exposed to at some point in their lives.

CHRISSI: I feel like I recommended this book because it was a book I ‘had’ to read rather than wanted to read. I felt like it was a hard, heavy-going read that didn’t grip me. I just couldn’t get excited by it. I hate not liking a classic like this but it didn’t work for me.

Would you recommend it?:

BETH: But of course!

CHRISSI: It’s not for me!

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Coming up in the last Monday of July on Banned Books: we review Julie Of The Wolves by Jean Craighead George.

 

Banned Books – The Titles For 2018 Revealed!

Published January 1, 2018 by bibliobeth

I’m delighted to say my sister and fellow blogger Chrissi Reads and I will be continuing our Banned Books challenge into 2018. Here is what we’ll be reading each month:

WWW Wednesday #3

Published May 22, 2013 by bibliobeth

WWW Wednesdays is hosted by MizB at Should Be Reading. Click on the image to get to her blog!

To join in you need to answer 3 questions..
•What are you currently reading?
•What did you recently finish reading?
•What do you think you’ll read next?

Click on the book covers to take you to a link to find out more!

What are you currently reading?

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This is a bookclub choice by Deborah Moggach, I’m about halfway through it, it’s quite good so far, I’d definitely be interested to see the film. My sister and I (ChrissiReads) are doing a comparison post about it soon so look out for it on my blog!

What did you recently finish reading?

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I loved this book, and can’t believe I didn’t read it earlier. You can see my review HERE.

What do you think you’ll read next?

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This is the first book on the Richard and Judy Summer Reads 2013 list (please see my previous post HERE). It’s a debut novel, and looks like a great beach read.

Please feel free to share your own WWW Wednesday, happy reading everyone!

Brave New World – Aldous Huxley

Published May 20, 2013 by bibliobeth

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What’s it all about?:

Far in the future, the World Controllers have finally created the ideal society. In laboratories worldwide, genetic science has brought the human race to perfection. From the Alpha-Plus mandarin class to the Epsilon-Minus Semi-Morons, designed to perform menial tasks, man is bred and educated to be blissfully content with his pre-destined role.

But, in the Central London Hatchery and Conditioning Centre, Bernard Marx is unhappy. Harbouring an unnatural desire for solitude, feeling only distaste for the endless pleasures 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…

What did I think?:

I cannot believe I haven’t read this book until now, it’s a brilliant science fiction “warning” story about the dangers of human manipulation, written in 1931 yet still original and fresh today. The engineering of our species operates not only on a genetic level, but on a psychological level, where humans are conditioned from infancy by means of the whispering of subliminal messages during sleep. Humans are designed and programmed for different levels of employment – the Alpha Pluses with their higher brain power, down to the Epsilon Minuses who perform more servile roles. The author explains that to carry this out, the Epsilon’s brains are deprived of oxygen in the embryonic stage, which I found particularly shocking. Individuals are kept quiet or negative feelings are suppressed by the use of a “soma” drug which is taken liberally and quite extensively.

The characters in this novel are incredibly intriguing, stand-outs include  Bernard Marx, an Alpha Plus who seems unhappy with the system, Lenina who enjoys being promiscuous and attractive to men, and John (or Mr Savage), a visitor from a world outside the system that (shock horror!) still have mothers, marriage and Shakespeare. The Shakespeare becomes particularly important to John, as he fantasises about Lenina and himself in a Romeo and Juliet scenario but also dwells on Othello and King Lear. As he is given the tour of the “brave new world” his mood becomes darker and lower as he discovers what lengths humans have gone to while engineering the species. Bernard just plain disappoints me as he seems to change his attitude from disdain about his position in life to pure hypocrisy when he becomes surrounded by women and friends. I find myself still thinking and analysing this novel a while after I’ve finished it which is definitely the sign of a good book for me.

Would I recommend it?:

But of course!

Star rating (out of 5):

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