On the 75th anniversary of its publication, this outstanding work of literature is more crucial and relevant today than ever before. Cloning, feel-good drugs, anti-aging programs, and total social control through politics, programming, and media: has Aldous Huxley accurately predicted our future? With a storyteller's genius, he weaves these ethical controversies in a compelling narrative that dawns in the year 632 A.F. (After Ford, the deity). When Lenina and Bernard visit a savage reservation, we experience how Utopia can destroy humanity.
©1932 Aldous Huxley; ©1998 BBC Audiobooks America; (P)2003 BBC Audiobooks America
"British actor Michael York's refined and dramatic reading captures both the tone and the spirit of Huxley's masterpiece." (AudioFile)
I love listening to or reading books--especially fantasy, science fiction, children's, classics, & historical.
Brave New World is a bitterly funny and humorously tragic dystopian novel in which Aldous Huxley satirizes modern civilization’s obsession with consumerism, sensual pleasure, popular culture entertainment, mass production, and eugenics. His far future world limits individual freedom in exchange for communal happiness via mass culture arts like “feelies” (movies with sensual immersion), the state-produced feel-good drug soma, sex-hormone gum, popular sports like “obstacle golf,” and the assembly line chemical manipulation of ova and fetuses so as to decant from their bottles babies perfectly suited for their destined castes and jobs, babies who are then mentally conditioned to become satisfied workers and consumers who believe that everyone belongs to everyone. In a way it’s more horrible than the more obviously brutal and violent repression of individuals by totalitarian systems in dystopias like George Orwell’s 1984, because Huxley’s novel implies that people are happy being mindless cogs in the wheels of economic production as long as they get their entertainments and new goods.
Michael York does a great job reading the novel, his voice oozing satire for the long opening tour of the Hatchery and Conditioning Centre, and then modifying in timbre and dialect for the various characters, among them the self-centered brooder Bernard Marx, the budding intellectual poet Helmholtz Howard, the sexy, sensitive, and increasingly confused Lenina Crowne, the spookily understanding Resident World Controller of Western Europe Mustapha Mond, and especially the good-natured, sad, and conflicted Shakespearean quoting “savage” John.
I had never read this classic of dystopian science fiction, so I’m glad to have listened to this excellent audiobook, because it is entertaining and devastating in its depiction of human nature and modern civilization, especially timely in our own brave new Facebook world.
i found "brave new world" to be...interesting, interesting in a "make your skin crawl at the reality of how close to home this story hits" kind of way. a disturbing tale, written many years ago, it's tempting to dismiss the possibilites for a future like this as unthinkable, impossible, improbable...an alarmist's view of the future from so far in the past as to be almost laughable. in truth, laughing will be the last thing on the listener's mind. "brave new world" is presented in such a way as to make the listener think long and hard about our own current events and where they could potentially go in the not so distant future. a bit of a stuffy read at times, it may be a bit hard for many to understand due to both the english accent and the multisyllabic words used nearly constantly. find yourself a dictionary and settle in, just don't be surprised at the disturbing bent your dreams may take. use it as an entertaining listen, but be certain to take away the startling glimpses of what could so easily be our own "brave new world" in the not so distant future.
As an Audible Editor I listen for a living! British classics, YA novels, speculative fiction, and anything quirky, fascinating, or heart-wrenching.
When I first read Brave New World it gave me nightmares. I was hooked. It might be strange to say that a book that gave me bad dreams is a good thing, but I was intrigued that a story could worm its way so powerfully into my psyche. It was really my first encounter with dystopian speculative fiction and I ultimately credit Huxley with sending me on my recent nosedive into YA lit. He probably wouldn’t appreciate this association, or the one I’m about to make, which is that I think this book is one of the most powerful and accessible works of dystopia ever created, and can be seen as a forebear to much of today’s hottest literature.
Sometimes when I’m not sure what I want to listen to next I’ll return to a book that I loved fervently in print and check it out in audio, and that’s what I did with Brave New World. I’m so glad that I did. Michael York is an excellent narrator and he captures the different characters admirably. But what I found most impressive is how he handles dialogue. Brave New World is more than dystopian sci-fi; it’s a novel of ideas and discussion. There’s a lengthy rapid-fire debate that takes place between John the Savage and Mustapha Mond near the end of the book that is generously peppered with obscure Shakespearian references. When reading you can gloss over anything you do not get immediately because you understand the merit of their discussion: is it better to be happy and controlled, or is the freedom to be unhappy the greatest of human liberties? But I found while listening that Michael York carried me along through their debate and the individual Shakespearian references sang clearly. Just as seeing a play acted out on stage is easier than reading it, I really feel that listening to this book was a heightened experience, and an improvement on the print version. Now when I recommend Brave New World to people I suggest they listen to it first.
And I’m going to recommend it again now: There’s a reason this is a classic, and read by most freshman English students. If somehow you’ve missed it, now is the time to pick this one up.
St. Louis, Missouri
Huxley for writing the book, York for reading it and Audible for making books like this available in their Daily Deals. I would never have bought it had it not been on sale—and I would have missed an amazing work of literature as well as a fine audio performance.
Like many people, Brave New World was always one of those books I meant to read. Whenever a new tech marvel hit the scene or a new question of medical ethics made headlines, a news writer somewhere was sure to make an allusion to the title of Aldous Huxley’s masterpiece. But that’s as far as my understanding of the book went: a nebulous sense that it presented a less-than-savory picture of some indefinite, but very possible, future.
But as Mustapha Mond, the World Controller for Western Europe might say, that’s just the tip of the iceberg.
In the interest of full disclosure, you need to know I was born and bred in Detroit. Hence, a good deal of my enjoyment of the book stems from the author’s complete agreement with my own estimate of Henry Ford. Yes, he made America mobile. Yes, that mobility was affordable. But delve into some of the man’s writings, sayings and methods and you understand what Huxley is driving at.
One day Ford was walking through his factory when he noticed a pile of short wooden boards. Upon inquiring about them, he learned they were broken up packing cases that had contained auto parts; they were about to be thrown away. In a flash of ingenuity, he ordered the wood to be used as floorboards for his Model T’s.
It’s a story that appeals to all our recycling instincts (that’s the way we’ve been conditioned, right?) But dig a little deeper. Behind Ford’s idea there lurks a sort of maniacal drive for complete and utter efficiency.
It goes hand in hand with Ford housing his workers in barracks. Yes, they were clean, bright places to live. But they were also places where the workers could be supervised. Drinking was frowned upon for obvious reasons. Dancing was encouraged because Ford had some odd theory about its moral benefits. Random inspections were a normal feature of life.
Then there’s the famous $5 a day wage. Accepted now as a humanitarian measure—so much more, we are told, than what other industrialists were offering the downtrodden proletariat. In actuality, the downtrodden proletariat only got $2.50 an hour—the other $2.50 was held back, to be paid at a later date if the workers’ behavior met Mr. Ford’s exacting standards.
If none of this is giving you the chills, then you may not want to bother with Brave New World.
There’s a photograph of Ford relaxing (if that was possible for him) in his home in Dearborn—incidentally, an architectural monstrosity of conflicting styles. In the background a piece of needlework proclaims: “He who chops his own firewood warms himself twice”. Ok, that’s true as far as it goes. But again there’s that maniacal drive for efficiency, an almost Uber-Puritanical focus on work—a focus that excludes all other considerations.
Ford crystalized that focus with the infamous remark, “History is bunk”. The blowback from those words was so widespread he tried to atone by building Greenfield Village, the open-air museum that is as much a monument to himself and his friend Thomas Edison as homage to the past. Nevertheless, the unguarded remark reveals his true thinking.
In Brave New World, Huxley takes that thinking and follows it out to its extreme, “logical” conclusion. I understand that there’s more underpinning the book than just the wit and wisdom of Henry Ford. For example, I sense a critique of our Declaration of Independence (why did Jefferson include “happiness” among our inalienable rights, rather than keep to the classic Whig triumvirate of life, liberty and property?) It’s a piece of our foundational rhetoric that, taken to its “logical” extreme, can be just as culturally destructive as Ford’s hatred of the past.
So much for the roots of the book. I’ll leave you to draw your own conclusions about how much of what Huxley imagined has actually come to pass.
On top of a masterpiece you also get Michael York’s performance, which is simply extraordinary. And again, big kudos to Audible for making literature like this available at sacrifice prices—and here’s hoping they’ll do it again soon. Many of the blockbusting best sellers that usually make the Daily Deal are, as the Savage would point out if he were here, a far cry from Othello.
After only a few chapters into Brave New World, you will be so shocked and appalled that you may feel inclined to emphatically put it down and disconnect yourself from it for the fear that someone else will overhear the spill of your headphones. I challenge you to keep reading; although it never explains itself in a way that eases our consciences, it categorically forces you to reconsider every quantum of morality and ethics you possess. Once done, you will certainly not agree with the hypothetical future set forth by Aldous Huxley, but you will understand why not, and thus have a far more solid foundation for why you believe what you believe.
Jumps on his bed while licking the bottom of one foot. He persists in this life affirming act despite interference from the head nurse.
There are some books which, sooner or later, one must read. Here is one of them. Although quite famous, most of its worth lies in its insight than in its uneven prose. In fact, there are times when Huxley cannot write his way out of a paper bag, contrasted with other moments when, for some reason, he does better. He is best when describing objects and surroundings rather than conversation and human interactions. In any event, his writing is mediocre rather than great. Ideas and images buoy the text up: human embryos raised in bottles, then "decanted" (as the book's society calls it) into faux placentas until birth; humans given all the sexual thrills they can handle from childhood, and all the emotion-draining hallucinogenic drugs they want, in order to maintain social order. Michael York as narrator is superior, with my only complaint being that his voice gets strident at times.
To be honest, I had never heard of the book before in my life. With my interest in dystopian worlds and lives, this book seemed like a good on to read. And it was. The narrator's performance was good and the storyline, as eccentric as it turned out to be, was very strong. This is no run-of-the-mill story, you will need to immerse yourself in the world and the style that it is written in, but when you do, be prepared for a mind-bending dystopia!
There are books of the same chemical composition as dynamite. The only difference is that a piece of dynamite explodes once, whereas a book explodes a thousand times. ― Yevgeny Zamyatin
What a blasphemous question to ask!
It looks real. That's human nature never to learn from your mistakes.
The narrator did a brilliant job of bringing the characters to life. He had no problem with the female character as well.
I loved every minute of it. And to Michael York's credit, the experience will stick in my memory.
I value intelligent stories with characters I can relate to. I can appreciate good prose, but a captivating plot is way more important.
Brave New World is often help up as being the partner of 1984. Both have different versions of dystopian futures where humanity loses its individuality to a faceless system that destroys independent thought.
1984 stuck with me long after I read it, but Brave New World never touched me on an emotional level. I found it redundant, slow and boring. I also think that the book failed to make it's point.
Huxley examines the world government that is based on control through pleasure-induced apathy, without ever providing evidence as to why it was a bad system. We're just supposed to take it on faith that it is. Art is gone, and passion is gone, even love is gone... which is appalling on its face. But that's a subjective reaction on the part of the reader. I love my family and I can't imagine being happy in world without families... but objectively, and undeniably these people ARE happy.
What we don't hear about is the progress of the sciences outside of the sciences which support the system of control. Is humanity still exploring the universe? Are we learning and progressing as a species? In 1984, the answer to these questions was an obvious "no". Humans and humanity as a whole were getting stupider. In Brave New World we know they're being systematically cut off from literature and art... basically all the "humanities" subjects. But what about everything else?
There is plenty to think about here, but while 1984 is a perfect 5-star book in my opinion, Brave New World falls short. Still an important read, and an interesting cautionary tale.
Aldous Huxley presents a world so... Sci-fi, it's hard to believe it was first released in 1932. It succeeds in providing a detailed picture of a world where genetic modification is the commonplace way to provide societal stability. We find ourselves outsiders to the morality and values that must be maintained to accept this way of life but I think it's ultimately less a question of right/wrong but more about the nature of humanity, the value of human life and individuality (and yes, our sense of right and wrong).
Where I feel this book falls short is in the enjoyability of the story. It has been a few years since I read it, so I can't be too detailed here but I definitely remember loving the book through the first half. As I drew near to the end, however, the story lost steam and I found myself trudging through the last chapters. When I finally got to the end, I just felt bad and had lost the enthusiasm for talking about the complex ideas presented by this futuristic society that seemed so interesting when I started.
I give it 3 stars. Good book not great. Not the kind of book that I'll probably read more than once.
Bleak and excellent. An interesting thought experiment. As opposed to Orwell's "1984", in which a totalitarian government rules by fear and brutality, the Brave New World leaders remain in power by enslaving their population to unbounded, self-indulgent pleasures. All humanity is lost when grief, pain and suffering are eradicated, and the book cleverly introduces a 'savage' from an 'old world' reserve who understands the loss that the new world has undergone. Despite it's cautionary tone (that seems to be more relevant in this day and age than when it was written) I couldn't help feeling I could do with just a little bit of unbounded, self-indulgent pleasure. Huxley would turn in his grave!! Clear sound and excellently narrated.
"Marred by narration"
Great book, no doubting that, but I'm half way through and had to break to come on here and say I can't STAND Michael York's narration. Really after 20 audiobooks or more from Audible this is the first time it's happened, and it's particularly surprising given he's such a well known actor, but absolutely every moment of his performance is over-egged. It's Jackonory story-telling, subtle as a brick and prone to spasms of indulgent and frankly frightening wailing and crying. And the accents, entirely his contribution from what I gather, are atrocious. I'm probably in the minority given other reviews here, but give the sample a go and try before you buy, that's my advice!
I have never posted a review before, as I have never felt strongly enough, in either direction, to want to make a public comment on something - until now. It is more years than I care to remember since I last read Brave New World, and what a delight to listen to Michael York as the narrator. For anyone who thinks that they 'ought to' read this book, then this is the perfect way to do it; and anyone who wants to revisit this timeless classic, then you are in for a sublime 8 hours. If only all audio books were of this standard.
"Better than a gram of soma...."
Superb. An absolute classic! This thought provoking tale of social engineering is made even more accessible by the masterly narration of Micheal York. Sheer auditory pleasure!
"Imaginative, But Flawed!"
Set sometime in the distant future (A.F. 632 which may translate to around 2540 A.D. according to some calculations), in an advanced dystopian world; this was at times a fascinating but challenging listen. However, I could not help feeling somewhat disappointed by the end as I did not find it to be the classic that it was alleged to be.
Often compared to Orwell's "Nineteen Eighty-Four", but very different in terms of the worlds both authors so carefully constructed, I found Huxley’s style of writing at times to be overly verbose and difficult to follow. It also made me wonder at times how far he was trying to exhibit his own philosophical beliefs at the expense of the plot and overall story.
I found nearly all the characters unlikeable. Naturally, the only ones I truly sympathised with were John and Linda. No doubt this was deliberate on Huxley's part, as to an outsider looking into this so called "civilised world" where people had been conditioned to show no real lasting unity to one another, you could only feel appalled at their self-centredness. John the Savage (as he was unfairly referred to), represented our world and programming, and his reaction to the likes of Lenina and some of the lower caste members and their behaviour was at times desperate, but understood.
When you take a step back and take it all in, the world Huxley created here is truly frightening, but nonetheless captivating.
Finally, I found Michael York's narration rather strange and somewhat irritating at times. Some of his choice of accents for the characters were quite bizarre and not well thought out (Bernard's and John's especially), and kind of took some of the gloss off of this work.
"Interesing characters and ideas of the future."
Michael York makes listening to this book very easy.
The story portays a world where human engineering has advanced so far that children are grown in test tubes rather than born naturally. Distinct classes of people are manufactured in the test tube. Love and partnerships no longer exist as everyone belongs to everyone else. Subliminal teachings repeat the mantras of the new world order, ensuring stability and conformity. Drugs are freely available to wash away any hardship or stress. Gone are the writings of Shakespeare and all references to God.
But there are a few that are not content with the way of the world and look for answers to their feelings of emptiness.
The story follows these characters through their journey of self realisation and weakness, exploring the state's reaction to their outspoken views.
I really enjoyed the story and considering its age was impressed by the forward thinking.
I first read this book 25 years ago at school. Time (or my age) has made this book even better! Well read by Michael York. If you like George Orwell's 1984, you'll love this.
"Parody not prophecy."
This novel has to be read with the writer's historical context kept firmly in mind to appreciate its absolute genius. It's a parody - and a very funny one - of all the utopias being prescribed and promised by the political theories that are sweeping the world in that very strange period that was the 1930s. Capitalism was being battered - due to the Great Depression - and Socialism, Communism and Fascism were vying for dominance of people's hearts and minds; each declaring they had the keys to human happiness. And, alongside this, the science of eugenics seemed to be justifying the European dominance of its empires as well as the right of the upper-classes to rule the lower. So throw into this already very heady mix the hedonism of the Roaring Twenties, and the still very fresh memories of the Great War, and Alduous Huxley is writing in an extremely volatile time. So what does he do? He takes the piss out of everybody.
We follow the petty proto-revolutionary bureaucrat Bernard Marx (what a great name: George Bernard Shaw/Karl Marx) in his pathetic and ultimately futile quest for respect and importance in the genetically 'stable' utopia that has been manufactured. It's a very uncomfortable read at times - the erotic play of the toddlers comes to mind - and brutal too - the death clinics, and the descriptions of the Savages' reservations - but Huxley's point is to show that no matter what the grand Social Theories promise, they won't be able to take into account each individual's little weaknesses and lusts and ambitions; humans can't be put into little boxes and expected to be happy. The Shakespeare quoting savage John isn't happy in the reservation nor in the Brave New World; the stunted Bernard won't ever find acceptance from his peers, and Lenina ("Wonderful girl; splendidly pneumatic.") will never be able to understand her taste for something 'different'. Huxley isn't being prophetic, he's being parodic in Brave New World and he's having a lot of fun too. 5 stars
"Great ideas, pulpy plot, hammy performance"
The performance and the plot.
Fix the clunky dialogue and sketchy characters.
Hammy delivery. Wobbly regional accents randomly distributed. For example, Pueblo Indians that sound like they come from Bristol, my luvverr.
Yeah probably, just to see how they do it.
Seek out an alternative version.
"what an amazing book!"
I simply could not believe that a book as prescient as this was written in 1931 / 1932. This gets to the heart of so much that is wrong in our own era and reads like a creepy but amazing prophecy speaking into all the problems of our age.
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