Bookreport Aldous Huxley - Brave new World referat

Bookreport Aldous Huxley:Brave new World

The author

The book

2.1) The report

2.2) The characters

2.3) Society and Religion


1) The author                  

Aldous Huxley was an English novelist and critic and best known for his novel Brave New World (1931). Besides novels he published travel books, histories, poems, plays, and essays on philosophy, arts, sociology, religion and morals.

Aldous Huxley was born in Godalming, Surrey on July 26, 1894, into a well-to-do upper-middle-class family. His father, Leonard Huxley, was a biographer, editor, and poet. He first studied at Eton College, Berkshire (1908-13). When Huxley was fourteen his mother died. At the age of 16 Huxley suffered an attack of keratitis punctata
(an eye disease resulting in near blindness) and became for a period of about 18 months totally blind. By using special glasses and one eye recovered sufficiently he was able to read and he also learned Braille. Despite a condition of near-blindness, Huxley continued his studies at Balliol College, Oxford (1913-15), receiving his B.A. in English in 1916. Unable to pursue his chosen career as a scientist - or fight in World War on the front - Huxley turned to writing. His first collection of poetry appeared in 1916 and two more volumes followed by 1920. He married in 1919 a Belgian refugee, Maria Nys, and they had a child, Matthew Huxley, the year after.

Huxley's first novel, Crome Yellow (1921), a witty criticism of society, appeared in 1921. Huxley's style, a combination of brilliant dialogue, cynicism, and social criticism, made him one of the most fashionable literary figures of the decade. In eight years he published a dozen books, among them Point Counter Point (1928) and Do What You Will (1929).

During the 1920s Huxley formed a close friendship with D.H. Lawrence with whom he travelled in Italy and France. For most of the 1920s Huxley lived in Italy. In the 1930s he moved to Sanary, near Toulon, where he wrote Brave New World, which was first published in 1932. In the1930s Huxley was deeply concerned with the Peace Pledge Union. He moved in 1937 with the guru-figure Gerald Heard to the United States, believing that the Californian climate would help his eyesight, a constant burden. After this turning point in his life, Huxley abandoned pure fictional writing and chose the essay as the vehicle for expressing his ideas.

Brave New World Revised appeared in 1958. He stated that in writing Brave New World he had failed to recognize the ominous potential of nuclear fission, 'for the possibilities of atomic energy had been a popular topic of conversation for years before the book was written.' He believed that individual freedom was much closer to extinction than he had imagined. Huxley's other later works include The Devils Of Loudon (1952), depicting mass-hysteria and exorcism in the 17th-century France. Island (1962) was an utopian novel and a return to the territory of Brave New World, in which a journalist shipwrecks on Pala, the fabled island, and discovers there a kind and happy people. But the earthly paradise is not immune to the harsh realities of oil policy. In 1963 appeared Literature And Science, a collection of essays.

In 1954 Huxley published an influential study of consciousness expansion through mescaline, The Doors Of Perception and became later a guru among Californian hippies. He also started to use LSD and showed interest in Hindu philosophy. His first wife died in 1956 and he married the violinist and psychotherapist Laura Archera the same year. In 1961 Huxley suffered a severe loss when his house and his papers were totally destroyed in a bush-fire. Huxley died in Los Angeles on November 22, 1963.
In the media news of his death were overshadowed by the assassination of President Kennedy.

2) The book

2.1) The report

Aldous Huxley. Brave New World. Hong Kong: Longman Group Limited: 1932 (Brave New World Revised 1958)                                                                                                                             

This Book, a novel with satirical contents, gives a dark picture of life, as it might be six hundred years from now. All human values have changed, babies are produced in bottles and are conditioned for their later use, family life has disappeared and the whole world and the people on it are controlled by science.

After 9 years of war, humans decided to build a New World with one state, the "World State" which was ruled by so called "Controllers". For centuries the World State held its principles on community, identity and stability. This means that everyone lives with everyone else in order to identify themselves as a group. They must serve the State and not attempt to change the social system in any way. Basically, the World State knows what's best for everyone so the people have no need to think for themselves, they only have to obey the rules.

All babies were "produced" in bottles by big Hatchery and Conditioning Centres. Using Bokanovsky´s Process you can clone up to 92 identical twins from one fertilized egg. The embryos are conditioned for their later use and divided into five groups: Alphas, Betas, Gammas, Deltas and finally Epsilons. 

In this world 632 A.F. (Anno Fordii) lives Bernard Marx who is a psychologist. Bernard is different to others, he is an extremely clever 'Alpha plus', but his body is small compared to other 'Alpha plus' people. He does not only look different, his thoughts are also not the same as the others. Bernard sometimes prefers to be alone what is unimaginable for anyone else, because they were conditioned to enjoy doing everything together. His behaviour made him into an outsider. This Alpha plus does not often take Soma when he feels sad. Soma is the "perfect drug" that makes people forget their problems and feel happy without any side effects such as illness. Nobody seems to like him because of his "anti-social" behaviour and his look. In addition nobody respect his friend, the well-known writer Watson Helmholtz who is the only person who can understand Bernard's thoughts. Because of this he is very grateful to have Watson as a friend.

One day, a young and beautiful girl called Lenina asks Bernard to come with him to the reservation where the savages live. In the reservation they do "things" that citizen of the World State would never do: they get married, live as man and wife together, have their own children and believe in gods. Such incredible and disgusting activities are unheard of in the New World. Only a few people, Bernard and Lenina are but two, obtain permission to visit the reservation. For these two so called civilized people, the strange habitudes and behaviour of the savages is a unique experience.

But one of the savages is different, his skin is like Bernard's, his name is John and he original came from the New World. Years before, his mother Linda visited the reservation like Bernard and Lenina have. Linda disappeared and never returned from her visit. People thought the savages killed her although usually they would never harm a citizen of the New World, because they are all frighten by their weapons and strength. In fact she had fallen, injured herself and managed to survive with the help of the savages. This forced her to act and live like a savage.

John and Bernard began talking together and discussed many things like the World State and life in the reservation. During their talks Bernard learns that John's mother was the girlfriend of his boss, the DHC, who is the director of the Hatchery. Bernard Marx doesn't like the DHC at all, because they disagreed and argued on several issues. He even thought about sending Marx to an island where all the people there are either too clever or generally disagreeable to the World State. The small Alpha plus has a plan that the director wouldn't send him to the island if he could bring back his girlfriend so they take the Savages with them.

When they arrive back at the Hatchery, the good-looking young man John and the ugly old woman Linda became an sensation for the people. Linda identified her old lover but he did not remember her as in the World State,because people don't get old, they retain a youthful look throughout their life. The director could hardly remember her, he knew her only as beautiful young girl. Her ugliness makes him and the other citizens of the New World feel sick and they avoided meeting this ugly creature again. Linda begins to take Soma. So much that she dies of an overdose and the Director then lost his reputation and is sent away.

After a meeting with Helmholtz and John, Bernard becomes jealous of the way that they get along together and seem to impress each other. Bernard's reaction is rather stupid. He makes jokes about the great Shakespeare (Shakespeare was not known in the World State but Bernard knew that the strong words impressed the writer Helmholtz deeply). John reacted immediately, he was so disappointed with Bernard and Helmholtz's behaviour he stopped talking to them and became very angry. Watson couldn't avoid laughing as he heard the pathetic comment from his friend.

Bernard introduces John to several very important people, John hates to have so many people around with not a single minute of silence but Marx enjoys being in the limelight. On a day when the most important people come to talk with John the Savage, he refuses to see them. These mighty men remembered the will of the earlier boss of Marx who wanted to send him to an island. Helmholtz, Bernard and John the Savage are ordered to Mustapha Mond, the controller of Europe. Here they talk to Mr. Mond, who explains that people in the New World no longer need a god or poetry, they can stop thinking and take Soma if they have problems. But the three rebels, can't agree with Mustapha Mond. So he sends Helmholtz and Bernard to islands and John out of London to an old tower building.

After this, John looses contact with Bernard and Helmholtz. He begins a new life in the old tower. The Savage remembered what he had learned in the reservation and begins to plant his own food, construct his own tools and live like he did in a time before. Sometimes he has the habit of striking himself with a whip to help forget about the Brave New World and the beautiful Lenina.

But the people don't leave him in peace and return with noisy helicopters. John becomes seriously aggressive and shoots at them with his self-made arrow. After this event they keep a respectful distance from John's tower.

Eventually the people and the radio reporters lose interest in the Savage until the day when a movie called "The Savage of Surrey" is shown in the cinemas. The movie shows scenes of John while he was beating himself with a whip, which was secretly filmed by the reporters. Later, interested people come back and ask the Savage to hit himself with the whip in the way they had seen in the movie. But that's too much for John. When they return the following day they see John the Savage hanging from the ceiling with a cord around his neck, turning slowly from one side to the next, back and forth.

Although written in a satirical way, this novel is a warning to us to think about how the world is developing before it is too late. His idea that in centuries to come, a one-world government will rise to power is not new, but it is new that his fictional society not only lives in this totalitarian government, but embraces it like mindless robots. Soma, not nuclear bombs, is the weapon of the World Controllers in Brave New World. Mind-altering drugs appear to have no side effects and the people can be handled easily.

In the beginning I was very sceptical whether the book would be interesting, because the system Huxley described in the beginning with all details was very confusing and difficult to understand. But while reading I found the book more and more interesting, because nowadays the topic in Huxley's Brave New World is more actual than ever. Today we have the possibilities to "produce" people.

So I can recommend the book to everyone!

2.2) Main Characters

Bernard Marx is in love with Lenina Crowne, contrary to all of the social conditioning. He is short and physically inadequate for the status of Alpha-Plus, and therefore has an inferiority complex. Other characters believe that he may have accidentally received a dose of alcohol while in the fetal stages. He is more independent thinking as a result of feeling separate. Bernard Marx is close friends with Helmholtz Watson.(The name Marx remind us on the great Communist thinker.)

The Director of Hatcheries and Conditioning (DHC), also called Tomakin, leads a group of students on a tour. He introduces them to the techniques of fertilization and segregation into classes. Tomakin is later humiliated by the arrival of Linda and John the Savage and resigns in disgrace.

Helmholtz Watson is an Alpha-Plus with slightly too much intelligence. He is friends with Bernard Marx because both he and Marx have become outsiders within the society. Watson eventually writes a poem which gets him in trouble. He quickly becomes enamoured by John's Shakespearean verse before being sentenced to live in the Faukland Islands.

Henry Foster is an expert on statistics within the Central London Hatchery and Conditioning Centre. He joins the student tour at the Director's behest and quotes facts about the processes of the hatchery. He is also in charge of maximizing the number of embryos each ovary can produce. Foster is one of Lenina´s most frequent dates.

His Fordship Mustapha Mond is the Resident Controller for Western Europe and one of the Ten World Controllers. He alone makes the rules for society and decides what may be published. Mustapha has read Shakespeare and other forbidden books, making him one of the most independent thinkers within the society. He is the man who gives Bernard permission to bring the Savage and his mother back to London.

Lenina Crowne is a beautiful woman who is introduced to the group of students while inoculating the infants against yellow fever. She is dating Henry Foster in the beginning, but agrees to go out with Bernard Marx to the Savage Reservations. After the Reservations Lenina becomes popular by her association with the Savage. She continually tries to sleep with the Savage, but becomes frustrated by his unwillingness. After she strips in front of John, he tries to beat her. Lenina visits John at his lighthouse at the end of the novel and he starts to whip her. It is unclear whether she is killed or not. (The name Lenina remind us on the great Communist thinker.)

Linda is the mother of the Savage and the woman whom the Director brought to the reservation. She is an alcoholic and rather obese. After her return to the Utopian society she consumes too much soma and dies soon thereafter.

John "The Savage" is the son of the Director and Linda. He was born on the reservation in a city called Malpais (translated to mean 'bad city'). He grew up as a hybrid of the Indian and Utopian cultures, with a volume of Shakespeare serving as his guide to life. As a result, he was often excluded from Indian rituals. He and his mother Linda accompany Bernard Marx back to London where he soon becomes a celebrity. John falls in love with Lenina and imagines his love for her is similar to that of Romeo and Juliet. He soon has trouble conforming to the ideals of the Utopian world and strikes out in an effort to assert his individuality. John Savage finally runs away from the society but is hunted down by a mob of sightseers. In the end he is forced to commit suicide. 

2.3) Society and Religion

Society:   Community, identity and stability (main aspects) are nearly perfect.

Everybody belongs to one group of people: Alphas, Betas, Gammas, Deltas and Epsilons. Alphas are people with high abilities and knowledge. They work for example as scientists. Epsilons are the last group in this hierarchy. They can't read and do low work. Epsilons are the only black group. If somebody is an Alpha or an Epsilon is decided by doctors when their life starts. All babies are made in bottles were chemicals influence their development. After the unbotteling electro shocks and sleep-teaching is used to condition the babies till they are 12. So nearly nobody asks why he isn't an Alpha, because this conditioning erases the real person. The identity is forced by Bokanovsky groups. This means that from one egg up to 94 twins are born.

Nothing that can be compared with marriage does exist. So family life has disappeared.

A drug called soma is used by everyone. It isn't illegal. But nobody of the lower classes knows that it is drug. Every day after the work they get their ration. This helps people to be happy all the time. This leads to the stability the world controller wants.

Religion: The whole story is set in 632 A.F. (Anno Fordii). Henry Ford lived from 1863 to 1947. His book "My Life and Work" is like the "Holy Bible" in our days. The "Fordson community singery" building is like our church. And the "T" as a religious sign is like the crucifix. The "T" comes from Model T which was the name of the first mass-produced car.

3) Annotations

Alpha, Beta, Gamma, Delta, Epsilon: the first five letters of the Greek alphabet, often used to grade examination candidates according to the quality of their answers. Plus and Minus are used with the letters to give grades in between them. Alpha Plus is the highest and Epsilon Minus the lowest.

Bokanovsky: this is one of the names invented by Huxley in the book to give colour to his picture of the new world. Bokanovsky is an imaginary Russian name, used possibly to remind us of the work of Russian scientists, especially Ivan Petrovich Pavlov (1849-1936), who became famous for experiments in controlling the behaviour of dogs.

Braille a system or reading and writing for blind people.

Ford: This refers to Henry Ford (1863-1947), who founded the first factory for the production of cheap motor cars at Detroit, in the USA. He is taken as the god of the new world by Huxley, because of the method of mass-production used in his factory which, in Huxley´s opinion, made the workers mere slaves to the machines which manufactured the cars.

Henry Ford is reported to have said "History is bunk". This saying would obviously please the leader of the new world, who did not want people to know anything about the lives and deeds of those people who had lived in earlier times.

In 1922 Henry Ford published a book called My Life and Work. In this book he described his attitude to industry and to people working in factories who, in his opinion, should be well paid and well treated but should not be allowed to have any influences over their own conditions of life. In the new world this book becomes a holy book, taking the place of the Christian Bible.

Hatching: to hatch is to produce a living creature from an egg.

inferiority complex: a feeling that one is less important.

obey: to do what one is told or required to by somebody

Soma: an Indian drug, used in certain Hindu religious ceremonies. It has the effect of making people forget their troubles and feel happy. Aldous Huxley, like other members of the same family, was interested in the effect of various Eastern drugs on human beings. He makes soma necessity for everybody in the new world, because it makes them feel continually satisfied with their lives.

Important and interesting quotations

"Community, Identity, Stability'

'Bokanovsky's Process is one of the major instruments of social stability!'

'And that,' put in the Director sententiously, 'that is the secret of happiness and virtue - liking what you've got to do. All conditioning aims at that: making people like their unescapable social destiny.'

'Moral education, which ought never, in any circumstances, to be rational.'

'Imagine the folly of allowing people to play elaborate games which do nothing whatever to increase consumption. It's madness. Nowadays the Controllers won't approve of any new game unless it can be shown that it requires at least as much apparatus as the most complicated of existing games.'

'History is bunk.'

'Wheels must turn steadily, but cannot turn untended. There must be men to tend them, men as steady as the wheels upon their axles, sane men, obedient men, stable in contentment.'

'You've got to choose between happiness and what people used to call high art. We've sacrificed the high art.'

'You can only be independent of God while you've got youth and prosperity; independence won't take you safely to the end.' Well, we've now got youth and prosperity right up to the end. What follows? Evidently, that we can be independent of God.'

'Christianity without tears- that's what soma is.'

'But I don't want comfort. I want God, I want poetry, I want real danger, I want freedom, and I want goodness. I want sin.'

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