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LIDIA VIANU

 

Essays on ALDOUS HUXLEY  in

LIDIA VIANU,

British Literary Desperadoes at the Turn of the Millennium, ALL Publishing House, Bucharest, 1999;

http://editura.liternet.ro/ebooks/lvianudesperadoes/lvianudesperadoes.pdf 

http://www.e-scoala.ro/desperado/table_of_contents.html 

 

The Desperado Age: British Literature at the Start of the Third Millennium,

Bucharest University Press, 2004; 
 
http://editura.liternet.ro/ebooks/lvianudesperadoage/lvianudesperadoage.pdf 

http://www.e-scoala.ro/desperado/contents_the_desperado_age.html

 

 

 

 

 

Brave New Novel – Aldous Huxley (1894-1963)

© Lidia Vianu

Published in

LIDIA VIANU,

British Literary Desperadoes at the Turn of the Millennium, ALL Publishing House, Bucharest, 1999;

http://editura.liternet.ro/ebooks/lvianudesperadoes/lvianudesperadoes.pdf 

http://www.e-scoala.ro/desperado/table_of_contents.html 

 

 

 

Huxley’s novels were mostly written between the two world wars. It is almost impossible to pinpoint him to a particular group of writers, which makes him a Desperado avant la lettre. Huxley is first and foremost an excellent writer, and saying that we have rescued him from all classification, which is exactly what Desperado authors aim at.

 

Brave New World (1932) may not be his most representative novel. This book includes it into a larger group of anti-totalitarian, more obviously politically minded works, whose ideas do not compare but converge insofar as they take the iron curtain very seriously. Huxley’s Brave New World is of course a dystopia, written much earlier than Doris Lessing’s novels, which could more easily afford being realistic.

 

In some respects, Huxley’s imagination comes pretty close to the communist nightmare. It applies to the future of all mankind, in his intention, and, only as far as terror and lies are concerned, it definitely strikes the anti-totalitarian note. Those who have lived under a communist regime of course understand him better. His warning, made very obvious from the first page, by the motto of the book, states that utopias must never become real, that life need not be ‘perfect,’ it must merely be free.

 

Brave New World is an image of a possible future (now present) society, written with delightfully resourceful imagination, abundantly spiced with irony, and unified by an interesting narrative. It is, therefore, an enjoyable novel with a plot.

 

Huxley is a master of the story, and the fact that he tells it by placing himself inside the characters’ minds is no impediment. On the contrary, he enriches the area of incidents with their broader echo in human reactions, which are analysed with insight and even warmth – rather unlike the Desperado writers of today.

 

In spite of the fact that he actually dissects his characters, showing us their innermost, painful secrets, Huxley surrounds their maimed souls with a halo of mesmerizing sympathy. Precisely because we understand even the vilest of their acts, all his heroes become likeable. Reading Huxley is an alchemy of understanding, which changes into sympathy. The more we understand, the more closely we feel bound, even to the most abject beings. What can be explained must be loved.

 

How does Huxley’s irony keep pace with his need for warmth, for human feeling, that his novels evince? Many people have judged Huxley by his irony alone. We must admit his irony is so unbearably intelligent that it becomes devastating. But it is not an end in itself. It merely makes our inclination to love his characters more painfully clear. On the other hand, Huxley is not in the least a sentimental. But his readers – that is an altogether different matter – his readers must take care of their own sensibilities before they are stolen from them. Because Huxley can handle his readers and turn them round his little finger like nobody else.

 

Brave New World is placed sometime around the 25th century, and the background is the Central London Hatchery and Conditioning Centre. Science and technology have taken dominion of life on earth. They are so highly developed that hardly any more thought can go into them. As a matter of fact, intelligence, the power of thinking are not needed any more. Everything goes on as planned long ago. Very few (out of whom only one is described) know anything except their particular division of work, which consists of mechanical gestures. People are turned into sophisticated robots. As Huxley puts it, they are ‘standard men and women,’ artificially produced in bottles, conditioned for a certain field of life and work. Even their happiness is planned: they get a ratio of ‘soma’ a day, a kind of drug which gives them a night’s escape into ‘eternity.’ All superlatives, all dreams have been achieved. Nothing to struggle for, nothing to pine for, no soul necessary any more. An earth peopled by soulless beings, who hardly know who or why they are at all.

 

The classes of standard beings are Alpha, Beta, Delta, Epsilon... The Alphas are the best provided and very well off. They do the skilled work in this self-sufficient society. The Epsilons are the lowest workers, those who have to queue for their daily ratio of ‘soma,’ and about whose lives we learn nothing from Huxley. The plot of his novel winds among Alphas mostly. The story is very uncomplicated. Lenina is a healthy Alpha young girl, who goes to bed with as many men as possible, because this is an imperative of her world, and who knows that she must never ever beget a child, because that would be the utter disgrace. Children are combined in bottles, socially predestined, preconditioned by hypnopaedia. A family is a shame. Father and Mother are disgusting words. The slogan which is sacred, taken for granted, is ‘Everyone belongs to everyone else.’

 

Bernard Marx, on the other hand, is a rather under-developed Alpha male, in whose bottle with blood-surrogate people suspect someone put alcohol, thinking he was a Gamma, so he came out somewhat weird. He likes solitude – a great sin, he hates Lenina for giving herself to man after man, as a mere creature of meat and no brains, he even tends to think, but there he fails. His friend, Helmholtz, also aspires to think, to become a writer. They are both punished in the end, by being sent from the comfortable centre of the Brave New World to some peripheral island, like Iceland.

 

But, before the end, something very significant takes place. Bernard and Lenina go for a holiday to the ‘New Mexican Reservation’ (Malpais), where, among savages (people who grow old, still have families, worship gods – in short, people who still live at the level of the 20th century), they discover a civilized woman, Linda (a Beta), who was lost on a similar trip and stayed there. The reason why she was forced to stay there was that, inadvertently, she became pregnant and was forced to give birth to a boy, John. This shame was never allowed to happen among civilized people, so she had to live with the savages, took to drinking and – ghastly – grew old.

 

Her son grew up rejected by all the savages, as the son of the whore, since Linda preserved the civilized habit of going to bed with anyone who wanted her. John alighted on a book by Shakespeare and read it voraciously. When Bernard, who remembers his director saying something about having lost a travel companion in the Reservation years ago, brings these two beings back to civilization, the director is overwhelmed with shame and hurriedly resigns. Linda stuffs herself with ‘soma’ to forget her past misery, and soon dies. John, who thought he was entering Shakespeare’s Brave new world, is so utterly disillusioned that he sees no escape other than committing suicide.

 

The novel is well written. The characters are alive. It is the work of a well trained mind, which mixes imagination (utopia, or rather, dystopia) with keen psychological analysis, and with a remarkable sense of humour. Let us examine a few of the imaginary operations which take place in this centre that produces human beings, and see if they are only ironical, or they also aim at political prophecies, some of which, in some countries, have indeed come true.

One statement is, ‘fertility is merely a nuisance.’ Most of the females are predestined to become ‘free martins,’ only thirty percent of the female embryos are allowed to develop normally. The man in charge of this explains:

 

‘The others get a dose of male sex-hormone every twenty-four metres for the rest of the course. Result: they’re decanted as free martins – structurally quite normal (except,’ he had to admit, ‘that they do have just the slightest tendency to grow beards) but sterile.’

 

The embryos in the Hatchery are given more or less oxygen, according to their future higher or lower caste. The lower the caste, the less oxygen they get, the shorter they are. The first organ affected by the lack of oxygen is the brain, then the skeleton. Some beings, like the Epsilons, need no human intelligence at all.

 

These embryos are carefully conditioned to do what they have to. As the Director explains to his students, who visit the Hatchery,

 

‘All conditioning aims at that: making people like their unescapable social destiny.’

 

The State Conditioning Centres have replaced the old idea of a family, and human beings no longer need to be ‘viviparous.’ Their moral education must be anything but rational. They must be taught ready-made sentences, in their sleep. ‘Home’ is an obsolete notion, described as:

 

‘...a few small rooms, stiflingly overinhabited by a man, by a periodically teeming woman, by a rabble of boys and girls of all ages. No air, no space; an understerilized prison; darkness, disease and smells.’

Imagine a mother maniacally loving her children! Imagine anyone trying to withdraw into privacy and to cherish someone as his own! The conclusion is simple:

 

‘No wonder those poor pre-moderns were mad and wicked and miserable.’

 

In the first half of the novel, Bernard is a promising character. The fact that he turns out to be a failure in the end, just as superficial and vain as all the other Alphas, is more his author’s fault than his own. Huxley got more interested in the savage John on the way towards the denouement, and changed his mind about Bernard Marx, using him as a counterpart for the pre-modern John.

 

Bernard is a specialist in hypnopaedia. He feels how harmful it is, but he does his work all the same. He hates everything he has been taught in his sleep, which shows that there must be something wrong with him, or he would not make such desperate (not very fruitful) efforts to think on his own. He is eight centimetres short of the standard Alpha, he is slender, and he resents this inferiority. It is unfair to this so promising character that mere spite sets him against the established order. Huxley seems to have been too much in a hurry to dismiss him. His revolt is interesting and it could have become highly significant, but it did not fit the novelist’s idea of the plot. The best definition for Bernard is: ‘his self-consciousness was acute and distressing.’ He felt an outsider, alien and alone. He felt he was not one of many, but an individual.

 

We must not forget that, for the brief space of this novel, we live in a world where everybody is happy. Huxley tries hard to create a soothing atmosphere, which would make the sharpest brain go dull. Where he fails, ‘soma’ is offered, and his characters flow out into free timelessness. Lenina says she is ‘free to have the most wonderful time.’ In contrast with her, Bernard wonders what it would be like if he could be free, not enslaved by his conditioning. If he could experience passion, or feel something strongly. This is exactly where John comes in. He is free from conditioning. He does experience everything very strongly. Bernard and John turn out to be one character, if put together.

 

Bernard finds John in the Reservation and asks him if he wants to come to London, where his mother came from. The answer comes at once, in Miranda’s words:

 

‘O brave new world that has such people in it. Let’s start at once.’

 

John falls in love with Lenina, but rejects her violently when he discovers that, from the Shakespearian point of view, she is a whore. Miranda no longer exists. As a matter of fact, man himself has disappeared.

 

Bernard could have become a man again if Huxley had not prevented him too soon. John’s arrival makes him an Alpha-Plus once again. Proud of his civilization. Only John’s disappearance (to a lonely lighthouse) makes him recover his former individuality, but he is soon punished, in the following condemning speech, uttered by the Director himself:

 

  ‘The security and stability of Society are in danger. Yes, in danger, ladies and gentlemen. This man,’ he pointed accusingly at Bernard, ‘this man who stands before you here, this Alpha-Plus to whom so much has been given, and from whom, in consequence, so much must be expected, this colleague of yours – or should I anticipate and say ex-colleague? – has grossly betrayed the trust imposed in him. By his heretical views on sport and soma, by the scandalous unorthodoxy of his sex-life, by his refusal to obey the teachings of Our Ford and behave out of office hours <like a babe in the bottle> (here the Director made the sign of a T), he has proved himself an enemy of Society, a subverter, ladies and gentlemen, of all order and Stability, a conspirator against Civilization itself. For this reason I propose to dismiss him, to dismiss him with ignominy from the post he has held in this Centre; I propose forthwith to apply for his transference to a Sub-Centre of the lowest order and, that his punishment may serve the best interest of Society, as far as possible removed from any important Centre of population. In Iceland...’

 

As a matter of fact, this speech is uttered precisely when John comes on stage, and Linda rushes to embrace his father, the Director. But its content applies to the end of the novel as well. In the meantime, Bernard records John’s reaction when confronted with civilized London, and wonders at John’s attachment to his ‘m_’ (meaning the shameful word mother). Linda is old and ugly, and the fact that her son loves her is to Bernard an interesting example in which

 

‘Early conditioning can be made to modify and even run counter to natural impulses (in this case, the impulse to recoil from an unpleasant object).’

 

The Savage, on the other hand, is just as amazed at what he sees. ‘Do they read Shakespeare?’, he asks. Of course not. Helmholtz explains it to him:

 

‘The world’s stable now. People are happy; they get what they want, and they never want what they can’t get. They’re well off; they’re safe; they’re never ill; they’re not afraid of death; they’re blissfully ignorant of passion and old age; they’re plagued with no mothers or fathers; they’ve got no wives, or children, or lovers to feel strongly about; they’re so conditioned that they practically can’t help behaving as they ought to behave. And if anything should go wrong, there’s soma.’

 

The life of the Savage in the Reservation was plagued with too much loneliness, his life in London suffers precisely because of lack of privacy. He rejects too much comfort. He wants, he says, God, danger, freedom, goodness and sin. As someone wisely notices, he claims ‘the right to be unhappy.’ His suicide is the proof of man’s growing inability to stay human.

 

From the point of view of the narrative technique, Huxley’s novel is a science-fiction story told by an omniscient author. The point counter point device is alertly used. The major source of irony in the book is the implicit contrast between our own condition and what is going to become of it in a future which, owing to some details that have already come true, is fairly likely to come about. The novel is also a dystopia which faces us with a total loss of human attributes, moral values, joys, passions, curiosity, even unhappiness. It turns out, from the way Huxley handles the landscape, that unhappiness is essential to man’s life. As Blake put it, ‘Damn braces; bless relaxes.’

 

Huxley’s warning is savoured with ‘soma’–like comforts of an ultra–technical existence. There are taps with perfume, for instance, in every flat. If you are an Alpha, you are lucky. If you are a low Epsilon, you are preconditioned to be satisfied with working hard. The pill he makes us swallow tastes sweet, but, once it takes effect, it has devastating consequences. We feel our only alternative in that Brave New World would be to commit suicide, like John the Savage.

 

Brave New World is a likeable book with a meagre plot, that leaves you hopeless. The causes of this hopelessness, which are political as well as economic, are not analysed. Huxley has a scientifically-biased mind. Politically speaking, unlike Orwell – who does that more than anything else, he does not take much trouble. Do we accept dystopia without an accurate view of politics today? Is mere imagination sufficient? Can Huxley convince us we are going to be dehumanized by too much well being? Whoever has experienced the deprivations of a communist society may be skeptical about that.

 

Many of us are more than charmed by the contrivances for human comfort imagined by Huxley. Communism was a dungeon. It is not the progress of science, but its arrest in our countries, that is scary. Our countries have had too little, not too much of that good thing. From the point of view of anyone who was born under communism, Huxley failed to create a credible dystopia, probably because he knew too little about the economic absurdity and the disastrous effects of communism on the human soul. He wrote his book as a warning for England. He did not have totalitarian Eastern systems in mind. Only the Soviet Union existed at the time. Although he mocks at the names of Lenin and Marx, he is still superficial. His choice of a pleasurably funny science-fiction book ruins his chances of becoming a prophet. He overlooked the evolution of communism, which Orwell, sixteen years later, was in closer contact with. Huxley wrote a book which we read today in hopes of finding it revolting, and which fails to relieve our resentment. Is this a brave new novel, and do we recognize this brave new world?

 

                                                                    ***

 

Ape and Essence (1948) was published during the same year Orwell published his 1984. It is meant to be a sequel to Brave New World, placed in southern California (Los Angeles, Hollywood) in 2108. It actually is a script within a story. A script by William Tallis is found, having been inadvertently dropped from the truck that was taking it to be cremated. On the last page of the novel, which takes place in a desert that was once Los Angeles, two runaway lovers stumble upon the grave of this writer, who foretold his own death:

 

 

‘WILLIAM TALLIS

1882-1948

Why linger, why turn back, why shrink, my Heart?

Thy hopes are gone before: from all things here

They have departed, thou shouldst now depart!’

 

Huxley’s own story begins on the day of Gandhi’s assassination, on Calvary. Bob has a wife, a mistress, and an idea for a script, plus a huge need of money. He is with the first person narrator when they find the manuscript of Ape and Essence, by ‘William Tallis, Cottonwood Ranch, Murcia, California,’ followed by the note

 

‘No self-addressed envelope. For the Incinerator...’

 

The following Sunday the two who found the doomed manuscript go to look for its author. They find the house, and right at the entrance they read:

 

‘The leech’s kiss, the squid’s embrace,

The prurient ape’s defiling touch:

And do you like the human race?

No, not much.

THIS MEANS YOU, KEEP OUT.’

 

Actually the owner of the house, an elderly woman, tells them Tallis had rented the house for a year, but he ‘passed on six weeks ago.’ He has no relatives in the States. He was sixty-six when he died. He had written the script for money:

 

‘...he wanted some extra money to send to Europe. He’d been married to a German girl, way back, before the First World War. Then they’d been divorced and she had stayed on in Germany with the baby. And now there wasn’t anybody left but a grand-daughter. Mr. Tallis wanted to bring her over here; but the people at Washington wouldn’t let him. So the next best thing was to send her a lot of money so she could eat properly and finish her education.’

 

He often repeated that if he died there, he wanted to be buried in the desert. It seems, from the script, that he was. Without further ado, the narrator says:

 

‘I print the text of ‘Ape and Essence’ as I found it, without change and without comment.’

 

What follows is entitled ‘The Script.’ It has directions for the producer, bits of strange poetry, quotations from Shelley, like the one on Tallis’ grave. The directions alternate with the voice of ‘the narrator.’ The story is pretty uncomplicated. Dr. Alfred Poole comes with a ‘New Zealand Rediscovery Expedition to North America,’ on ‘the twentieth of February, 2108.’ This is the time after the Third World War, during which New Zealand was spared, being too far away and isolated. It ‘flourished in isolation,’ keeping away from radioactivity for a century. The danger being over, explorers start ‘rediscovering America from the West.’

 

Two baboons drag two Einsteins on a leash. The narrator announces

‘the death, by suicide, of twentieth-century science.’

 

The Rediscovery Expedition lands west of Los Angeles. They have come in a ship with sails. Its thirteen members start finding the effects of radiation. Dr. Alfred Poole is a botanist. He stays behind and is caught by

‘three villainous-looking men, black-bearded, dirty and ragged.’

 

Los Angeles is a desert strewn with ruins. Its inhabitants worship Belial, make the sign of the ‘horns,’ call the Third World War ‘the Thing,’ and feel sure that this is the moment when God died and a new religion was born, their own. They live on what they find in coffins – from jewels to clothes – as they can produce nothing. The landscape is apocaliptic:

 

‘...it becomes increasingly obvious that the great Metropollis is a ghost town, that what was once the world’s largest oasis is now its greatest agglomeration of ruins in a wasteland. Nothing moves in the streets. Dunes of sand have drifted across the concrete.’

 

Huxley’s Ape and Essence is supposed to be a dystopia, the worst imaginable fears of dehumanization come true. It is a dystopia of science and religion. It shows the opposite of scientific progress and the opposite of God. People live without producing anything, just pilfering old graves, and Belial, ‘the Lord of the Flies,’ has taken dominion. The sign of horns is ironically similar to the famous V from Victory. Actually the political regime is supposed to be a Democracy. The chief states:

 

‘...the Law says that everything belongs to the Proletariat – in other words, it all goes to the State.’

 

Politically, Huxley is not really a prophet. Again and again, he knows too little to compete with Orwell, whom he actually tries to belittle in Brave New World Revisited. His scientific bias saves him from mere improvisation, but it is insufficient to create a real dystopia.

 

We learn that, three generations after the consummation of technological progress, a few thousand survivors live in the wilderness, and for thirty years they have found it safe to put to use the buried remains of modern comfort. Since they threaten to bury Dr. Poole alive, having lost the other twelve members of the expedition, the botanist offers to help them get better crops, consequently more food. He is partly integrated in their society. This is how we learn what could be in store for us.

 

The first hideous surprise is Belial Day. For two weeks men and women (called ‘Vessels of the Unholy Spirit’) mate at random, desperately, with no feelings, fidelity or morals. We are at the opposite of Christian religion. Because of gamma radiation, a while later babies with deformities are born, which are all killed by the Purification Centre. Poole makes his first mistake: he falls in love with eighteen-year-old Loola – some twenty years younger than he is, thus managing to escape the rigid morality of his mother back home, and the prospect of marrying his fellow, Dr. Hook.

 

Loola hopes with all her heart to have a normal baby. As she informs us,

 

‘They allow you up to three pairs (of nipples). And seven toes and fingers. Anything over that gets liquidated at the Purification.’

 

She herself has two pairs of nipples, she says. And she is terribly afraid of having her head shaved and her baby liquidated. Poole accepts everything with extraordinary ease. He eats bread baked at the heat obtained from burning the huge Californian libraries (one of which – in Berkeley – I am using at the very moment I am writing this book). He manages to save a book by Shelley, whom we find quoted extensively.

 

At school children learn that their duties are:

 

‘...to do my best to prevent (my neighbor) from doing unto me what I should like to do unto him; (...) to keep my body in absolute chastity, except during the two weeks following Belial Day...’

 

Woman is ‘the source of all deformity,’ ‘the enemy of the race,’ as opposed to the cult of the Holy Virgin, Mother of God in Christianity. Remembering the ‘dry bones’ of the Bible, maybe those in Eliot’s Waste Land, too, the narrator addresses us directly:

 

‘The dry bones of some of those who died, by thousands, by millions, in the course of those three bright summer days that, for you there, are still in the future.’

 

There are bones everywhere, constantly brought to the surface, constantly used to make glasses, necklaces and whatever else is useful. This long tradition of death ends in the reign of ‘His Eminence the Arch-Vicar of Belial, Lord of the Earth, Primate of California, Servant of the Proletariat, Bishop of Hollywood.’ Religion, communism and the world of movies are crammed together. The main religious hymn is ‘Glory to Belial, to Belial in the lowest.’ Mother is ‘the Breeder of all deformities,’ ‘the chosen vessel of Unholiness,’ ‘the curse that is on our race.’ Belial is propitiated by blood, and, when Poole is horrified by the impaling of deformed babies, the Arch-Vicar reminds him that his religion washes the sinners in the blood of the Lamb, too. Huxley’s irony is sharp and bitter. It is the time of ‘the chaos of lust,’ of ‘the Soul’s death,’ for ‘the Person to perish,’ ‘the Baboon to be master.’ The blessing is ‘His curse be on you.’

 

People who still believe in love are called ‘Hots,’ and Poole and Loola join them. They are faithful and live somewhere across the desert. They are monogamous. The narrator comments on a different life than the one reigning in Los Angeles in 2108:

 

‘Love, Joy and Peace – these are the fruits of the spirit that is your essence and the essence of the world. But the fruits of the ape-mind, the fruits of the monkey presumption and revolt are hate and unceasing restlessness and a chronic misery tempered only by frenzies more horrible than itself.’

 

This explains the title of the novel and also ends it almost. Poole and Loola have not turned into animals, they still have human feelings. The lovers are last seen by the script as fugitives across the Mojave desert. Loola is converted to God, and they come across the grave of William Tallis, which implies that he died while running away towards real love, a love that he could not find in California before the Third World War. Or maybe he did not even have that hope then.

 

Written in the spirit of the hybridization of genres, mixing script, fiction, drama, poetry and the essay, Ape and Essence is a captivating beginning, which ends too soon. Huxley seems to have been impatient with this book. Short as it is, though, it is at the core of many science fiction works today. The reign of the ape has been extensively exploited. On the other hand, Jonathan Swift’s Houyhnms are very early signs of dehumanization, and Huxley merely follows in the tracks of bitter irony.

Uninterested in politics, not very original in his previsions of an upheaval in science, religion, human nature, Huxley could horrify us in this novel if we managed to take him seriously. Unfortunately, his irony turns against himself. He discredits his own creation, discouraging the reader to become involved in the nightmare, so very much unlike Orwell, Lessing, Ishiguro. Teaching us to read mockingly, the novelist undermines himself. He slips into doubt, and the reader learns how to doubt him, too. The poignant reality of the text is absent. Ape and Essence is a hypothesis which we are in a hurry to discard, not having had enough time to become attached to it.

 

                                                                            ***

 

Brave New World Revisited (1958) is a long essay written after Huxley’s going to America, in 1937. It ends with Huxley’s concern with human freedom:

 

‘Meanwhile there is still some freedom left in the world. Many young people, it is true, do not seem to value freedom. But some of us still believe that, without freedom, human beings cannot become fully human and that freedom is therefore supremely valuable. Perhaps the forces that now menace freedom are too strong to be resisted for very long. It is still our duty to do whatever we can to resist them.’

 

The foreword warns us that we should read this essay against the background of the Hungarian uprising and its repression. The very first sentence of chapter 1 states:

 

‘In 1931, when Brave New World was being written, I was convinced that there was still plenty of time.’

 

We are now told there may not be so much time left before God is replaced by Belial. Huxley proceeds to discuss all the problems he raised in Brave New World: overpopulation, morality, propaganda, democracy, dictatorship, brainwashing, chemical and subconscious predetermination, hypnopaedia. He is positive that his prophecies are coming true, even sooner than he had thought, he says. He compares himself to Orwell, whom he appreciates, although it is obvious that he thinks more of his own dystopia. Some of his statements are memorable, such as:

 

‘It is a pretty safe bet that, twenty years from now, all the world’s over-populated and underdeveloped countries will be under some form of totalitarian rule – probably by the Communist party.’

 

He is certain that the world is in for a permanent crisis. In his own words, overpopulation and over-organization are pushing society in the direction of a new mediaeval system. He discusses censorship in the East and the West. In the East it is exerted by the state, by state propaganda. In the West it is economic and controlled by a Power Elite. He feels that the latter may be less objectionable. He makes the huge mistake of actually applying his dystopia to the Communist world, writing:

 

‘Throughout the Communist world tens of thousands of these disciplined and devoted young men are being turned out every year from hundreds of conditioning centers.’

 

Orwell had the intuition that dissidence was inherent to human nature, that such a thing as total mass loyalty to Communism was out of the question. Huxley is quite innocent in matters of Eastern politics. And his innocence is quite annoying to those who know the truth from their own experience.

 

On the whole, this apology of Brave New World, written by its own author, meaning to prove the concrete truth of prophecies springing from mere imagination, is irritating. It shows lack of insight and even of modesty. It fails to make a point. As brave new novels, Brave New World and Ape and Essence are remarkable. Huxley is a very special writer, who can turn irony into most anything. His imagination works in literary terms. Once he steps over the boundary, trespassing into politics mostly, he is undermined by his own inexperience. Much earlier than many, he showed the way to Desperado literature, mixing genres, pushing the novel into the art of film-making, which is remarkable. His point counter point technique foreshadows contemporary movies and finally lies at the basis of all cheap, popular soap operas. Although he was almost Eliot’s and Joyce’s age, his literature runs ahead, into this brave new novel that we keep reading, under so many masks, today.


1997