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!