Have you ever thought you were re-reading a book, but then realise you’ve actually never read it in the first place? I did this last week with Brave New World. It’s once of those books that has so permeated popular culture that it’s familiar as you read it.
Which is ironic considering how it’s the pinnacle of dystopia: Bernard Marx is a citizen of a beautifully happy, caste-based society founded on genetic engineering, pointless consumption and highly sexualised behaviour. A square peg in a round hole, the book charts Marx’s encounters with the leftover savages from society as you and I know it. It also has a whole load of literary allusions and Shakespeare liberally scattered about to create a GCSE coursework perfect storm.
It sounds like bog-standard contemporary science fiction, and in a way it is, but what strikes me is how contemporary and relevant Huxley is. Published in 1932, here is an author with the vision to articulate fears around dehumanisation and scientific advancement that are so pertinent today, amongst the cases of reproductive law, porno culture and state intervention into the life of the individual.
Also it blows my mind that Huxley predicted virtual reality entertainment about 80 years before Oculus Rift came along.
Brave New World informs my thinking around future societies and pretty complex politics in an accessible way- I’m a sucker for a love story. Plus now I can nod along knowingly to all those references to Room 101…or was that 1984?