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)
Wow... just finished listening to this book, penned over 75yrs ago, and am amazed to think how little the desires of men have changed, nor what we are willing to give up to obtain said desires. In the journey for happiness, stability and pleasure, what would you be willing to give up?
Science? It delivers us new possibilities, solutions to existing problems and the tools with which we can redesign our world and our place in it. But with this ability is destabilises societies between the haves and the have nots. It bends and breaks the ability of those enforcing and defining the process of our socialisation.
High art? It enables radical redefinition of our views of this world. The creativity seeks to push the boundaries of our preconceived notions, while opening us up to the potential and promise of imagined futures. With these promises, can we continue to be happy with what we have, or will will be willing to throw it all away for the promise of something better?
Religion? With faith people are giving an inner power of self belief. Their position is solidified within their society, and their approach on life becomes justified thanks to their connection to the historical links within their religion. And yet, divisive beliefs set upon the foundations of faith result in immovable forces constantly clashing, with all views seeking domination, validation, and acceptance. From these basic desires comes some of the ugliest destruction of humanity and simultaneously, the most beautiful creations of high art.
So in this journey of life where happiness, stability and pleasure is what we seek, perhaps we should hope that we never find it. Instead, let us enjoy the roller coaster that life brings with all the colour, light and shade of the experiences we gain. Let us laugh and cry, dream and discover, destroy and create.
While we may never truly obtain happiness, stability nor pleasure, the whispers of them we do find will make life worthwhile, and the journey worth pursuing...
Looks like it is time for me to get another coffee... :-)
A lot of older science fiction starts to feel anachronistic after a while due to the advances in technology that an author is unable to predict at the time of writing. 'Brave New World' still has a futuristic tone that doesn't feel cliche and still feels like a haunting possibility for our culture if we're not careful.
York does a great job with some great material. Some of his character delivery could be a bit grating, but I think that was on purpose much of the time.
Probably not Huxley, but York's performance is fine.
The discussion of the birth process and facilities.
I suppose, but it was rather heavy handed.
The story loses its originality near the end, with the introduction of the savage. It seems disjointed and unrelated to the first half of the book. I lost interest, but listened to the rather predictable end.
Brave New World is imaginative since it was written before WWII and is very accurate in predicting technologies that would come after it. The novel is lacking in a dramatic story. It is great as commentary and speculation of possible dystopian or utopian ideals. Even with everything that happens to all of the characters, none of them seem fleshed out and the story constantly jumps between them to illustrate different societal issues. If you like philosophical books this story is a classic and a must listen. Like in the society that is described, the characters are small pieces in the over arching ideal of describing the setting. If you don't mind that, then this book is well worth reading.
Must admit, I grabbed this one: 1) because for some reason I'd never read it in high school or college and thought I "should," and 2) the classics were a two-for-one sale. But, I was skeptical about listening to a classic. Is that even allowed? Is it appropriate? Should it be done?! Well, duh! Of course. Excellent decision on my part!
So the story? Wonderfully entertaining, of course. Also, creepily pertinent to today's world of "take a pill" to cure what ails you and the potential for science and good intentions to run amok.
The narrator? He was fabulous! I loved, loved, LOVED his characters. He did a stuffy British bureaucrat so well, it had me laughing. He was what a good narrator should be -- he didn't interfere, he just disappeared into the story.
I recommend this classic, and anything else by this narrator.
When I first listened to this reading of A Brave New World -- not having read it in 20 or 30 years -- I was actually very disappointed. Later, I stumbled upon some comparisons of ABNW and 1984 and was confused a bit by the possibility that some people consider the former the "better" book. So, I tried again and I realized that it was totally the preformance of the book that put me off. The narration of this edition comes across as too much Monty Python for my tastes and I wanted a darker more ominous delivery.
I don't think there is anything necessarily wrong with the narration, many reviewers have raves for Michael York. It just isn't what I imagine in my own mind and it bothered me and threw me off for most of the book. So I came away thinking ABNW was a really bad book but it isn't, it is a great book, just delivered here with, to my mind, a grating style.
The interesting take away for me is understanding the impact a narrator has on the quality and feel of a book, kind of obvious really. The difference for me is that the quality of the narration is good but it just does't suit the book -- if that makes sense. Maybe I'm just a dummy for having to listen to 800 books before realizing that :D
Still, I highly recommend this wonderful book with its "interesting" choice of narration.
There is always a freedom for me in reading and conjuring even the accent given to certain phrases that will make the reading of a print version of any book a slightly more enjoyable experience than a spoken or audio edition; that being said, Michael York is a more than capable actor and narrator and effectively brings the characters to life... well done.
John the savage strikes me as the one truly honest person in the story, and his innocence betrays him in the midst of the altered reality of the other main characters and society of the BNW
Bernard Marx - Michael York shows his fragilities very well I felt
It certainly has that page turner feel... yes!
A Brave New World has the haunting feeling of an all-too-possible scenario; frightening in the insistent prospect of how convincingly a new order might be propagated on an entire social set or populace; yet refreshing in the sense of the likelihood that a John Savage will also emerge no matter what... so all is not completely doomed. Enjoy...
Very clever story. Huxley's depth of knowledge of religion, philosophy and society provides a great foundation for his dystopian tale, where happiness has become more important than individuality and self-determination. Funny and sarcastic while being appallingly prescient. I've read it twice in print and it gets better (as I understand it better) each time.
All of them. He does an excellent job of giving each character his or her own voice. His professionalism as an actor shines.
It is a bit long for that. I did it in about three sessions. It is dense enough that you might want to digest for a bit after a couple of hours before you 'read' more.
Don't miss this book!
It's hard to believe it's been well over half a century since this book was first published. It's important to read and understand. This should be a cautionary tale about those who want to control us. I see parallels in modern advertising to much of this book. It's well read and very enjoyable.
"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!
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.
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.
"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
"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!
"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.
"A classic, but period piece"
I read this book many, many years ago when it still had resonance for many fearing the emergence of regimented, totalitarian, mainly communist, states. Being set in the distant future it contains all sorts of predictions about technology and how societies function. It's funny to read it again and to see how things have turned out and how technology like mobile phones and computers simply weren't envisaged in the 1930s. Although it's force has in many ways been superceded by events, it's still a classic and fascinating read.
"Great book, some volume issues"
First of all, this is a great book which I recommend. I do think there is a problem with the sound volume however, in that the volume difference between the most quiet and the loudest parts is too big. I listen a lot while commuting and I had to frequently lower the volume at the loud parts, and increase the volume at the most quiet parts to save my ears / be able to hear. I think it would have been clever if the publishers edited or mixed the sound to prevent that.
I don't think that should stop you from listening to this book still. Because it's great.
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.
Brilliant! This is not the sort of thing I normally read, but thoroughly enjoyed it. The narration is great, each character is very distinctive making the story very easy to follow.
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