Synopses & Reviews
About the Book
Unlike the earlier book that inspired it, ""Brave New World Revisited"" is not a work of fiction -- although its message is, in many ways, more disturbing than the classic novel's. For while Brave New World, published in 1932, predicted a totalitarian society precipitated by various forms of mind control, these 1958 essays postdate the rise of Hitler, Stalin, and other dictators who actually manipulated whole populations in some of the ways that Huxley had predicted. ""Brave New World presents a fanciful and somewhat ribald picture of a society, in which the attempt to recreate human beings in the likeness of termites has been pushed almost to the limits of the possible," Huxley writes. "That we are being propelled in the direction of Brave New World is obvious. But no less obvious is the fact that we can, if we so desire, refuse to cooperate with the blind forces that are propelling us."
Huxley is concerned primarily with the loss of human freedoms. He views overpopulation due to advances in medicine and technology as the most pressing problem, resulting in widespread misery around the globe. At the same time, modern technology has led to the concentration of economic and political power, to a society controlled by Big Business and Big Government, which Huxley calls "over-organization." In "Brave New World, Huxley "imagined" dictatorship by drugs (he invented a euphoria-inducing drug called "soma"), but his fictional depiction of chemical persuasion, he feels, has nothing on the reality of our over-medicated society. There are many other kind of mind control at work today as well -- propaganda spewed by media owned by a corporate elite, the subtle (and not sosubtle) manipulation of advertising, and the possibilities of subconscious persuasion through hypnosis, subliminal projection, and hypnopaedia (teaching a person while he sleeps).
Huxley feels that we know what ought to be done to guarantee our freedoms, yet forty years after "Brave New World Revisited" was published, so many of the threats to individual freedom that he cites continue, and new ones have appeared. His book continues to challenge complacency and enter a plea that we educate ourselves in freedom before it is too late.
Topics for Discussion Huxley wrote "Brave New World Revisited" at the height of the Cold War. Can any of his predictions now be dismissed in light of the fall of the Soviet Union? Do you think that Huxley's concerns about dictatorship by drugs has become even more possible in the age of Prozac and other psychological medications? When Huxley wrote these articles, DDT still was considered a scientific advance. What other aspects of Huxley's articles now, seem dated? Which of his predictions have become even more timely? Huxley writes of economic censorship, with the press controlled by the Big Business/Big Government elite. Has this censorship been diluted by the rise of the Internet? Alternatively, in what ways could the Internet pose new threats to our freedoms? The birth control pill was not available when Huxley wrote "Brave New World Revisited." Has its dissemination helped solve any of the problems that he predicted? Should legislation be enacted that curtails the rights of government, advertisers, or religious organizations to manipulate the mind of individuals?
About the Author: Poet,playwright, novelist and short story writer, travel writer, essayist, critic, philosopher, mystic, and social prophet, Aldous Huxley was one of the most accomplished and influential English literary figures of the mid-20th century. He was born in Surrey in 1894, and his books include "Crome Yellow, Antic Hay, Those Barren Leaves, Point Counter Point, Brave New World, and "The Doors of Perception. From 1937 on, Huxley made his home in Southern California. He died in 1963. Today he is remembered as one of the great explorers of 20th century literature, a writer who continually reinvented himself as he pushed his way deeper and deeper into the mysteries of human consciousness.
When the novel Brave New World
first appeared in 1932, its shocking analysis of a scientific dictatorship seemed a projection into the remote future.
Here, in one of the most important and fascinating books of his career, Aldous Huxley uses his tremendous knowledge of human relations to compare the modern-day world with his prophetic fantasy. He scrutinizes threats to humanity, such as overpopulation, propaganda, and chemical persuasion, and explains why we have found it virtually impossible to avoid them. Brave New World Revisited is a trenchant plea that humankind should educate itself for freedom before it is too late.
About the Author
The longer fiction of Aldous Huxley has been in the mainstream of the "Novel of Ideas" since the publication in England in 1921 (America 1922) of Crome Yellow, his first novel. Huxley is one of the most skillful and most successful social satirists of the twentieth century. His novels go far in defining the character of modern man, while his later work reflects an interest in mysticism and the effect of the consciousness-expanding drugs.
Born in England in 1894, Mr. Huxley took to writing when his eyesight temporarily failed. From 1934 until his death in 1963, Aldous Huxley lived in California.