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)
Ok, it's a classic so definitely a book with deep things to say. Generally I like the classics outside a classroom setting, but I'm just not sure this book was all I was hoping it was going to be. The first half of the book (give or take) is almost entirely consumed with setting the scene of a dystopian future (can you really call it dystopia if the people living in it are 'happy'?). I think the second half was supposed to be plot, but I couldn't really tell. There were a number of main characters, but none of them really seemed to be the 'hero' of the story, or even the focus of the story. There were tons of plot holes and loose ends, and some oddities in the society described (seriously this homogeneous society is ok with just sending the intellectuals off to a random island and hoping they never cause trouble? It just doesn't ring true to me) which betray this book for what it is: not so much a book but an extended discussion of a hypothetical future. It is an interesting concept, and one of those things that you can sort of see happening in a frightening future. Long story short: listen to it, contemplate the overall concept, don't expect a riveting plot.
I read science, biographies, histories, mysteries, adventures, thrillers, educationals, linguistics but not no way, not no how, romances.
There's no getting around it, Brave New World is a bad book. It's the story of a world where humans are engineered to fit a specific purpose and the engineering doesn't end after birth. The characters have come to accept this life, even the scheduling of their free time and the people they have relationships with, as normal. Our main character shifts halfway through the book to a man born on a reservation who is known as the savage. Then he comes into conflict with the New World.
That's the plot, but here's the juice: it's boring. The characters never challenge the world, they rarely come into conflict with its boundaries, and frankly, they're boring. They don't grow or want to grow in any significant way. The conflict only happens when the savage comes to the city, and even then it's too little and way too late. Not only that, but Michael York is an okay narrator - but his American accent is atrocious.
This stock is a definite Don't Buy.
Husband, father, lifter, recovering alcoholic
I really liked the world the writer has created. It was very well developed and easy to picture. However the story wasn't any good. It's almost like the story was an after thought. None of the characters were likable so I really had nothing invested in what happened to them.
My interests run to psychology, popular science, history, world literature, and occasionally something fun like Jasper Fforde. It seems like the only free time I have for reading these days is when I'm in the car so I am extremely grateful for audio books. I started off reading just the contemporary stuff that I was determined not to clutter up my already stuffed bookcases with. And now audio is probably 90% of my "reading" matter.
There was a time when the situation described in this book would have inspired universal horror in its readers. Yet nowadays many people seem to be yearning for a lot of the things described in this dystopian society. Maybe they should read the book and reconsider what they really want.
Huxley did a great job extrapolating from his own times what the ultimate end of contemporary trends would be. It would be nice to think we have steered clear of what he warned us about, but I dare say we have stayed more or less on course to become what he describes.
Traditional families and their values have completely disintegrated in this new world. It is a statist paradise, and it's hard to see how the new world order can be brought down. Thankfully, it's equally hard to see how the old world order could be so completely superseded.
This is the second book I've listened to read by Michael York. There will not be a third. York does OK with a lot of the dialog. He tends to read the prose in between in kind of a singsong voice that is very annoying. One gets the impression he thinks everything he reads is being read to a kindergarten class. When he gets dramatic, he gets REALLY dramatic. It is frankly a little surprising coming from a movie actor known for giving relatively flat, unexpressive performances.
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.
Faced with mindless duty, when an audio book player slips into a rear pocket and mini buds pop into ears, old is made new again.
“Brave New World”, by Aldous Huxley, is a dystopian view of the world that describes the potential consequence of idolatry, media conditioning, and drug dependence.
Huxley’s atheism peeks through the pages of “Brave New World”. His main character, the Savage, is raised in an Indian culture that venerates a god that stipulates what is good and evil. The Savage leaves this Indian culture to live in a “Brave New World” that believes in another god named “Ford”.
The logical extension of Huxley’s primitive world is no better than a “Brave New World”. Dictatorship, the opiate of media entertainment and a drug culture are evident in both worlds.
Huxley was one of those extraordinary human beings that have what Abraham Maslow called a “superior perception of reality”.
I am a daily commuter, 1 hour each way. Audible rides shotgun with me every day. The time flies by when I am listening to a good book.
Women in the future seem to be little more than "STRUMPETS" according to John Savage. I really liked the first half of the book and was firmly on Bernard's side. In fact, I pictured one of my favorite actors, Martin Freeman, as Bernard. However, when Bernard and Lenina visited the reservation and found Linda and John Savage, it all began to unravel for me. I wanted to root for John Savage but found that I could not even like him. It was hard to believe that in all the progress of the brave, new world that Linda could not have found some way to be rescued from the reservation. The women in the book are portrayed as shallow and empty headed and I could not get any sense of character from them at all. I enjoyed Michael York's narration of the book. I'm glad I read this classic but won't revisit it again.
It had been a long time since I had originally read "Brave New World", and - as this title came up as a daily deal - I thought I'd take the opportunity to enjoy it once again.
The story is still nearly as fresh and provocative as it was the first time I read it, albeit a bit tempered by the long years of reading and thinking about hosts of other utopian/dystopian societies.
Still, if you're not familiar with this story of an engineered and conditioned society, it offers an interesting perspective on what it means to live a life worth living; and if it's been so long that it is only a faint memory, the theme and delivery still hold up and provide plenty of food for thought (and a fair share of pure entertainment, for that matter).
There are very few mis-steps in the way of anachronistic "future" developments that might slightly distract you from the story, but overall the tale does not feel out-of-date and hold together quite well.
The narration and production is superb, I can only complement the efforts of BBC Audio - the clarity of recording and the voice work come together for an excellent listening experience.
If you are interested in utopian/dystopian speculative fiction, stories that examine what it means to be human and how we might accidentally subvert that, or just interesting "non-hard" SF, I would recommend giving this title a listen.
How did I not read this before? Michael York is great! The book is a little dated (some cringe-inducing racial slurs & oh the rampant sexism) but really is a hoot. (Where are our
personal helicopters, anyway?!? Isn't it about time?}
It did bother me how messed up John Savage is. That point of Huxley's I honestly don't understand.
But I now know what soma means.
Brave New World is Huxley's best known novel and a classic for good reason. This is a unique novel and a gripping expose on human nature. With overtones of Orwell's Big Brother this novel is set in a Utopia where the focus is on happiness, and where freedom and truth are removed from society. Huxley explores what happens when there is a clash with tradition ideals of moral obligation, religion, family, truth and free will.
This is a novel that is well ahead of its time and the description of the world is very clever and the language and turn of phrase employed is wonderful.
Micheal York really brings this to life with a masterful performance.
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!
"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.
"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
"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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