Brave New World
Sacrificing Shakespeare in the name of the Centrifugal Bumble-Puppy?
Brave New World was written by Aldous Huxley, first published in 1932 and derived its title from The Tempest, a play by William Shakespeare, namely from its heroine Miranda’s speech which is at the same time both ironic and naive. Miranda, raised her whole life on a solitary island, comes to encounter people for the first time only to find drunken sailors and their ship which they happened to wreck. The line is: O wonder!
How many goodly creatures are there here! How beauteous mankind is! O brave new world! That has such people in it!
Aldous Huxley’s ironic allegory is quite clear. It is the future into which we project our hopes and dreams and it is the future again who twists and turns them into ludicrous dissapointments. But at least the citizens of Huxley’s dreamworld are unaware of their absurd condition and float through their existence with ease that men of today can hardly come to know. Written during The Great Depression and inspired by the novels of H. G. Wells, Huxley’s Brave New World tells the story of a suprisingly happy and contended society (one should bear in mind that this book is usually labeled as dystopian fiction, genre which relishes in apocalyptic and catastrophical visions of the future). People are not born but grown (in the book’s words ˈdecantedˈ), they are specifically conditioned through various means such as sleep-teaching to love what they would otherwise hate and to think only within the confines of their caste, they are distracted by the consumerist nature of their world to buy new and throw away the old, to dread solitude and to never doubt, question or fear. The need for religion and self-transcendence is achieved through the use of hallucinogen called soma. And into this world of blissful ignorance arrives John the Savage, the novel’s protagonist though he does not make an appearance until the middle of the narrative. He...