The CBS Radio Workshop was an experimental series of productions, subtitled "radio's distinguished series to man's imagination" that ran between 27 January 1956 and 22 September 1957. The premiere production was Brave New World, narrated by Huxley himself, with a complicated sound-effects score that evidently took a long time to construct, and comprised a ticking metronome, tom-tom beats, bubbling water, an air hose, a cow's moo, an oscillator, and three kinds of wine glasses clicking together. There was also a cast of some ten actors.
What was most evident about this two-part adaptation, now available on podcast, was the vocal contrasts: between Huxley the narrator, telling the story in a cut-glass marked RP accent interspersed with occasional Americanisms ("diaper" instead of "nappy," for instance); the Controller, who spoke throughout in jovial tones, appropriate for the Brave New World of perpetual happiness; and the Savage, the representative of feeling, emotional humanity - now consigned to a reserve in darkest Mexico - whose tones became increasingly desperate as he understood how mechanized the universe had become.
The Brave New World was a topsy-turvy environment, which despised institutions such as marriage and parenthood (any mention of such terms was greeted with scornful laughter), and advocated free love without passion. Everyone belonged to everyone else, and no one needed to think any more. Despite the Director's jovial protestations that this was the best of all possible worlds (shades of Voltaire's Candide), the doom-laden consequences of what had happened were suggested by Bernard Herrman's specially composed score, full of doom-laden chords, and metronome-like chimes played on the tubular bells. The adaptation was announced by the actor William Conrad - who subsequently found fame on television as the corpulent detective Cannon: at the end of the first episode he informed listeners in no uncertain terms about the moral purpose of Froug's adaptation. It was intended as a "warning against the destruction of moral standards, family life and the soul of man."
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HAPPINESS IS A HARD MASTER
Just this morning on my way to work, I was listening to the BBC. The story I was listening too was about India. It seems in India, many women make extra money, being surrogate birth mothers. The country is thinking about passing a law to make it more difficult for foreigners to hire women for that purpose.
In the book there is talk about it being disgusting to breast feed a child. On face book a few weeks ago, some women were complaining about disapproving looks they get when breast feeding in public.
WE BELONG TO EACH OTHER
When this was written, most couples were virgins when they got married. Both my adult children, had multiple partners and lived with their girlfriends before marriage. They are happily married and I am not making a judgement call, but mentioning the changes in society since Huxley wrote this book and more toward his predictions than away.
This is a good production and I find, for me, dramatized productions help to make certain writings more understandable. If you are thinking about reading the book, spend 95 cents and one hour listening to this as a preview.
I just finished the full version of this book in audible and saw this for $2, so I thought I would give it a listen.. So much of the story is cut out from the book that it's hardly recognizable. =\
Ground-breaking works (take early film noir for example) can suffer from dilution -- imitators flock in, and slicker copies are produced with newer techniques. Last year's special effects quickly seem awkward and unbelievable. It this era of data-and-slick-media-deluge, I have had to learn to consume older sci-fi in a new way. (I mean, sci-fi older than one minute old, with that margin shrinking exponentially.) One noisy aspect of any older sci-fi is the clutter of wrong guesses or clunky unguessed old technologies (like old phones or no Internet) or social norms (such as nuanced inflections of speech, tied to some unfitting moment in cultural history) that are scattered across the stories. I must ignore these quaint flaws and translate the deeper themes into usefulness. The story has to pass through a quick live filtering or sorting in my head. But this was always demanded by archaic works. In this case, we have a strikingly imaginative novel written in the mid 20th century, and then (with the author's sanction and participation) dramatized in a sort of late 50s-early 60s (pre-hippie) set of dramatic idioms by actors, using the voice styles (and embedded cultural nuances) of THAT era. So, there is a little bit of contortionist mental filtering involved. However, the underlying story SCREAMS about now: our era dawning of mail-order children from catalogs, post-structuralist deconstruction and fragmentation of relationships and emotions into for-profit and user-surveilling apps, etc. And this radio work does so in a perfect cartoon style (of its own era) to highlight what is so chilling about this emerging world of ours right now, what is lost and gained in the latest mutations of complexity and creative destruction, now winding beyond control toward equilibria unseen. Orwell was probably more wrong, about society becoming a gulag, and Huxley probably more right, about society becoming a smoothly equilibrated pleasure-saturated consumer dystopia. (And yes, this has become a central meme for countless reams of "dark" literature ever since.) Listen and weep. But of course Shiva will wipe that Etch-a-Sketch yet again, on and on ....
This was much better than I expected for a one hour "radio" show. It was worth the time but for a true taste of the story you must read or listen to the unabridged version.
I was a bit disappointed in this. I've been listening to a lot of classics lately I've never read before and this was one. I guess I just expected a bit more out of it. Granted this is a shorter dramatized version but I read that it was better than the actual book. Maybe I need to try the full length version because this was a bit of a let-down for me. I didn't feel it had a lot of impact.
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