Flashback Friday: Brave New World

Flashback Friday is my own little weekly tradition, in which I pick a book from my reading past to highlight — and you’re invited to join in!

Here are the Flashback Friday book selection guidelines:

  1. Has to be something you’ve read yourself
  2. Has to still be available, preferably still in print
  3. Must have been originally published 5 or more years ago

Other than that, the sky’s the limit! Join me, please, and let us all know: what are the books you’ve read that you always rave about? What books from your past do you wish EVERYONE would read? Pick something from five years ago, or go all the way back to the Canterbury Tales if you want. It’s Flashback Friday time!

My pick for this week’s Flashback Friday:

Brave New World by Aldous Huxley

(published 1932)

Synopsis:

Far in the future, the World Controllers have finally created the ideal society. In laboratories worldwide, genetic science has brought the human race to perfection. From the Alpha-Plus mandarin class to the Epsilon-Minus Semi-Morons, designed to perform menial tasks, man is bred and educated to be blissfully content with his pre-destined role.

But, in the Central London Hatchery and Conditioning Centre, Bernard Marx is unhappy. Harbouring an unnatural desire for solitude, feeling only distaste for the endless pleasures of compulsory promiscuity, Bernard has an ill-defined longing to break free. A visit to one of the few remaining Savage Reservations where the old, imperfect life still continues, may be the cure for his distress…

A fantasy of the future that sheds a blazing critical light on the present–considered to be Aldous Huxley’ s most enduring masterpiece.

Brave New World has been a fixture on high school reading lists for decades now, alongside 1984, Animal Farm, and Lord of the Flies. Does it stand the test of time? I certainly think so. I reread Brave New World about five years ago, and was startled to see how prescient Aldous Huxley was about everything from assisted reproductive technologies to the rampant consumerism prominent in leisure and entertainment activities today. Brave New World is about a dystopian society — but written at a time when the concept was new and shocking, a true cautionary tale.

The class structure and predefined roles, the learning systems and government control, the Savage Reservations and birth control mandates, all are futuristic and yet scarily recognizable. As with so many “required reading” standards, I don’t think I fully appreciated Brave New World when I read it for school. Reading it again as an adult, I was struck by the tight narrative flow, elegant descriptions of a fully-formed social structure, and plot turns that manage to surprise even though dystopian settings are everywhere these days.

Did you read Brave New World in school? How do you think it holds up after all these years?

PS – I amused myself by looking for different versions of the Brave New World cover. The nine above are just a small portion of what I found!

 

♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥

Do you host a book blog meme? Do you participate in a meme that you really, really love? I’m building a Book Blog Meme Directory, and need your help! If you know of a great meme to include — or if you host one yourself — please drop me a note on my Contact page and I’ll be sure to add your info!

12 thoughts on “Flashback Friday: Brave New World

  1. I’ve never read Brave New World but it’s been on the cusp of my “must read this one day” list for a while. After reading your thoughts on the book, as well as the tantalising synopsis, I’ll have to move it from the cusp right into the guts of the list! Cheers for the flashback 🙂

    • I like the concept of the “guts of the list”! I wonder which of my to-read books qualify as guts books? 🙂 If you do check out Brave New World, let me know what you think!

  2. I didn’t have to read Brave New World in high school, but it is on my five-year LIST, which means I will be reading it some time in the near future.

    • Wow, that is some list! I love the ambitious challenge you’re setting for yourself. Good luck! I’d love to hear how it goes… such a great concept. 🙂

  3. When I first met my husband at uni (mumble, mumble 25 years ago…) we both picked our favourite book that the other had to read. I gave him P&P to read and he gave me Brave New World.
    We’ve been talking about it quite a bit again lately – we would like his eldest son, now 16 to read it.
    It would be good for both of us to reread it too – thanks 🙂

    • That’s so sweet and romantic — trading and reading favorite books! One of my big pleasures in my reading life has been sharing books with my daughter as she’s grown and seeing her seek out authors that I love! I hope your 16-year-old follows in your reading footsteps! 🙂

  4. Just finished reading BNW in my college English Class. We are reading it as well as 1984. Both books are timeless. I think the most important thing is to remember that the authors were writing in the future even though for us it is the past.

    Although our world isn`t identical to Huxleys there still is that basic concept happening.

    Love this meme, might try to particpate

    Ashley
    Books Buying Beauty
    http://books-4-review.blogspot.com

    • Exactly! They were envisioning a world that would have been far, far in the future for them, and it’s interesting what we can learn about the issues that were on people’s minds (and the fears) from reading these books. I hope you do participate in a Flashback Friday — I’d love to see what you pick! Thanks for stopping by!

  5. I adore dystopians and really have no idea why I have not yet read this one. Funny that you mention 1984, Animal Farm and Lord of the Flies though… those three are a couple of my favorite classic reads. Noticed my library has it on audio, may have to try it that way. 🙂

    • Ooh, yes, I bet that would be good! I think there are at least a couple of movie/TV versions as well. I want to re-read Lord of the Flies this year — it’s been such a long time!

      • I don’t even remember a single thing about LotF but I remember that I adored it and that was back when I wasn’t really much of a reader so that means a lot.

        • When I was traveling this past summer, I kept seeing teens carrying around LotF for their summer required reading — made me realize just how long it’s been!

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