Huxley Finishes Brave New World
The 24th of August 1931 AD
Aldous Huxley wrote Brave New World while living in Central America, finally finishing his revisions on August 24 1931. He was a close friend of D.H. Lawrence , and acquainted with members of the Bloomsbury Set; but Brave New World owes far more to H.G. Wells and strangely to Henry Ford, whose ideas had horrified Huxley when he chanced on one of his books during an ocean voyage; and it has also been suggested that Huxley plagiarised novels by Eastern European writers.
Whatever the inspirations, Brave New World is one of the great landmark novels of the 20th century, often paired with George Orwell ’s 1984 though the two nightmare worlds depicted are diametrically different: Orwell’s reliant on terror and repression; Huxley’s on social conditioning backed with consumerism. Interestingly Eric Blair, Orwell’s real name, was a pupil of Huxley when the latter briefly taught at Eton .
It is too often overlooked that Brave New World is a satire, and sometimes not too subtle in that aim – character names identifying contemporary or historical figures relevant to some of the ideas pursued in the book for example. The work remains scary in spite of that, partly because of the accuracy of the author’s perceptions about the way the world was going: our continuing need to sort ourselves into classes; the use of recreational drugs to blunt sensibilities; the drive to consume to fuel the economy; the dehumanising effects of mass production; the attraction of conformity. It may be set in a future half a millennium away but much of Huxley’s dystopian view is very recognizable already.
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