I’m sure I don’t really need to tell anyone what Brave New World is about, but for my own sake I’ll write it down anyway (feel free to skip the next paragraph). Also, spoilers ahead:
Brave New World is about a futuristic dystopian society where babies are born in laboratories, conditioned for a certain kind of life, take soma as an anti-depressant, where no one is interested in culture, literature, or art, but only in instant gratification and sex without commitment, etcetera. The book consists of three parts. The first being an introduction to the basic workings of the society, and two main characters: Bernhard and Helmholtz, who both feel they do not completely fit into the new world order. The second part narrates Bernhard’s holiday at a savage reservation in New Mexico, where he and the woman he travels with meet Linda and her natural-born son (oh, the shame!) John (referred to mostly as “the savage”). Linda used to live in London, but didn’t dare return because of the shame of having become pregnant. The third part has Bernard bring Linda and John to London, where they become extremely popular as sights, before John, together with Helmholtz and Bernard (the latter half-heartedly) rebel and are brought before Mustapha Mond, the world controller of Western Europe, with whom they discuss the pros and cons of the current society.
So, I don’t know. I couldn’t love this, at all. I’m not even sure if I found it to be anything special [I know, the fault is all mine]. I’m still puzzling over the why though, why didn’t I enjoy this classic?
I have been trying to come up with reasons why my first reading of Brave New World did not work for me:
Reason the first: I am still getting used to audiobooks. And I wonder if it wasn’t reading this book in audio that made me feel more removed from the story and less able to enjoy it. At times, the narrative is very slow (especially when characters were having thoughts or making long speeches about their stance towards the society). I do enjoy audiobooks, but I do think I’m not comfortable enough with the format yet to enjoy all books in audio form. This may very well be one that just works better in print.
Reason the second: I feel that this book would have been perfect to discuss with people who are knowledgable on the content, the philosophy behind it, and the context in which it was written. Listening to this book I kept feeling that I probably *should* have opinions on all of this, there were glimmers of them here and there, a lot of interesting subjects came up (othering; mass-production vs. “culture”; the importance of a nuclear family (or not); the boundaries of freedom & instant gratification, etc.), but I often just didn’t know what to make of them. A classroom setting, as Buried in Print suggested in the comment section on Goodreads may have been a way in which I might have enjoyed this one more.
Reason the third: This may have been the book itself. The story just felt.. a little boring to me. I am nervous about telling you this because I know it is a classic, I know that pdlace in its context it was probably revolutionary or refreshing. And usually I am all for doing that. But in this case I couldn’t really.. I don’t know, the whole absurdism of the society (which is also echoed in feared-for-realities, I get that), the whole “let’s have all the sex and no feelings!”, the things that were probably meant to make me laugh and think at the same time.. They just left me mostly apathetic. And I hated feeling that way. But I did feel that way.
Perhaps I should really just put this back on the shelf and reread it in a couple of years, in print, perhaps with a reading guide next to it, and see how I feel about it then.
I kind of hope I’m not alone in this though. I’m very nervous about publishing a post saying that I just didn’t “get it”.
Other Opinions: I’m lazy today and there really are too many reviews out there to mention them all. You can find all listed reviews on bookblogs by clicking here.