Published: 6th Dec 2007 (1932)
Publisher: Vintage Classics
Readership: Adult fiction
Genres: Science fiction, dystopia
Challenge: Classics Challenge – #3
I chose Brave New World to be my third classic of the year for one simple reason: How can I possibly say that one of my favourite genres is dystopia without having read Brave New World or Fahrenheit 451?
Brave New World begins in the Central London Hatching and Conditioning Centre where the Bokanovsky Process is taking place. It’s a scientifically and technologically advanced process that develops embryos in bottles and produces thousands of twins. Embryos are put into one of five castes before they’re fully developed, with Alphas at the top and Epsilons at the bottom. Each embryo within a caste is conditioned – physical ability and intelligence are altered – to make sure each person will be as useful to society as possible.
I loved reading one of the novels that inspired so many of the dystopian books I enjoyed over the past year. I loved delving deeper into, and learning more about, this strange yet eerily familiar society, and I loved it for being a satire – something I didn’t realise I was enjoying back when I read Shades of Grey. It was originally considered to be a view of a utopian society and it’s easy to see why – all members of society are happy regardless of their social position: “people are genetically designed to be passive, consistently useful to the ruling class”. Brave New World never felt dated to me – it reads like a critique of today’s society. I felt a little disconnected when the attention turned to John, but I think that’s because the meaning behind the ‘Savage’ character and what he represents is more explicit. I instead enjoyed thinking about the morality behind the scientific and technological developments that were a result of (or a cause of?) this immense shift in social attitudes and culture. It’s definitely a book that will have a lot to offer even when two or three more times.
Brave New World offers a horrifying but fascinating view of how society can be – and, unintentionally, how society already is. It’s, again, a novel that I can see being analysed to death in a literature class, but one I hope is still incredibly exciting and thrilling even when you do have to write an essay on it.
Someone! Quick! Get me Fahrenheit 451!