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Brave New World

By: Aldous Huxley
Narrated by: Michael York
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Publisher's summary

Originally published in 1932, this outstanding work of literature is more crucial and relevant today than ever before.

“One of the most prophetic dystopian works of the 20th century”—Wall Street Journal

Cloning, feel-good drugs, antiaging 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 AF (After Ford, the deity). When Lenina and Bernard visit a savage reservation, we experience how Utopia can destroy humanity.

A powerful work of speculative fiction that has enthralled and terrified readers for generations, Brave New World is both a warning to be heeded and thought-provoking yet satisfying entertainment.

©1932 Aldous Huxley; 1998 BBC Audiobooks America (P)2003 BBC Audiobooks America

Critic reviews

"British actor Michael York's refined and dramatic reading captures both the tone and the spirit of Huxley's masterpiece." (AudioFile)

Featured Article: 35+ Quotes About Books That Truly Speak to Bibliophiles


Novels, memoirs, short stories, essay compilations, and more continue to shape who we are and how we view the world, no matter what format—physical book, ebook, or audiobook—we use to absorb and enjoy them. Books are pathways into different worlds and different lives, and one can never be truly bored with a good book. Celebrate your literary love with these quotes about books that will inspire you to dive into your next story.

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  • SD
  • 08-21-19

Michael York should stick to the stage and leave narration to the pros.

Do you like having one of your favourite books of all time ruined by a pompous Brit who thinks he’s performing Shakespeare? Do you love having to constantly turn up the volume so you can hear unnecessarily exaggerated whispering, only to have your eardrums blown when the narrator unexpectedly
switches to shouting at the top of his lungs like a lunatic? Well then, this beautiful story being ruined by the over the top performance of Michael “Head So Far Up His My Ass” York is for you.

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“Oh, Ford, Ford Ford, I Wish I Had My Soma!”

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.

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  • Em
  • 04-16-12

Nightmare-Inducing (in a Good Way)

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.

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Great Story, Distracting Narration

The narrator's large shifts in volume and multiple British accents detracted from the overall experience.

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    4 out of 5 stars

Stick with it!

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.

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Hedonist Nihilism and the Centrifugal Bumblepuppy


"O brave new world, that has such people in it!"
Shakespeare's The Tempest

I was enraptured while reading this remarkable futuristic fable of a society somberly envisioned as one of hedonist nihilism in which humans are all hatched from incubators, graded, sorted, brainwashed and drugged to accept their position in the social order.

In doing a bit of research about the novel after reading it, I found this candescent passage from the late Neil Postman, a social critic and distinguished professor, comparing 1984 with Brave New World:

What Orwell feared were those who would ban books. What Huxley feared was that there would be no reason to ban a book, for there would be no one who wanted to read one. Orwell feared those who would deprive us of information. Huxley feared those who would give us so much that we would be reduced to passivity and egotism. ... Orwell feared we would become a captive culture. Huxley feared we would become a trivial culture, preoccupied with some equivalent of the feelies, the orgy porgy, and the centrifugal bumblepuppy.

N. Postman, Amusing Ourselves to Death: Public Discourse in the Age of Show Business.


I found this novel quite frightening in the longer view (compared to 1984) considering, as Christopher Hitchens so rightly pointed out, that 1984's "house of horrors" showed its weakness with the downfall of the Soviet Union, whereas Huxley's type of Brave New World "still beckons toward a painless, amusement-sodden, and stress-free consensus," a "true blissed-out and vacant servitude" for which "you need an otherwise sophisticated society where no serious history is taught." C. Hitchens, "Goodbye to All That: Why Americans Are Not Taught History." Harper's Magazine, Nov. 1998.*

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    4 out of 5 stars

still frightening all these years later

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.

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the narrator sucked

it was a hard listen just because the narrator wasn't my favorite person to listen to. the shot was annoying, but maybe that's what they were shooting for.

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HE WAS COVERED WITH CONFUSION

WOMEN'S HEAVYWEIGHT WRESTLING
Everyone has heard of this book, while few have read it. All of my reviews are based on entertainment value here and now. This was my second reading of the unabridged version and it is a must for anyone who claims to be a science fiction fan. Written in 1958, the predictions of a possible future are amazing. The main problem in reading it, is that is more of a thesis than a story. I strongly suggest that instead of reading this, spend 95 cents and get the one hour dramatized version. Not long ago I listen to the dramatized version and was very pleased. The shorter version hits all the high points and really gets you thinking. If you go ahead and get this version, it is more enjoyed in shorter bites.

Breast implants
The world Huxley dreams up, has partly come true and other parts might come true. The book is extremely thought provoking. One thinks of Hitler's desire to build a master race. In 1958 monogamy was the norm and women lost their virginity on their wedding night. In 1958 who would have dreamed of the amount of women who would get breast implants, essentially leading to such a large commonality in looks, plus lip plumpness, etc...

In the seventies I liked Michael York as an actor and I believe he makes a great narrator.

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Hats Off to Aldous Huxley, Michael York & Audible

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.

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