Brave New World Topics of Discussion

Brave New World Topics of Discussion



Brave New World Topics of Discussion

Where does the title come from? 

It is a quote from William Shakespeare’s The Tempest, which states, “O brave new world/ That has such people in’t” (V,I). 

What is the translation of the Nicholas Berdiaeff quote after the title page?

Utopias appear to be much easier to realize than one formerly believed.  We currently face a question that would otherwise fill us with anguish:  How to avoid their becoming definitively real?

Main Characters (in order of appearance)

Director of Hatcheries and Conditioning (D.H.C.)/Thomas-


Henry Foster-


Lenina Crowne-


Mustapha Mond-


Bernard Marx-


Fanny Crowne-


Benito Hoover-


Helmholtz Watson-




Who do you think is the actual main character of the book?  Explain.



Twenty-sixth century London and a traditional pueblo Malpais (or “bad country”) on an Indian Reservation in New Mexico. 



            External- between Mustapha Mond and Bernard and John; others?

            Internal-within Bernard, within John; others?


1.  The price for technological progress is the loss of individuality and human freedom.


2.  The triumph of reason over passion and science over art leads to distortions of human nature.


Additional Questions:

Note:  These will be broken down and assigned to a group.  YOU DO NOT HAVE TO DO ALL OF THESE QUESTIONS ON YOUR OWN, but you should be able to answer all of them by the time we take a test on the book.

Chapter 1:

1. Why is the first sentence strange? What does it set up?
2. What is the meaning of the World State’s motto “COMMUNITY, IDENTITY, STABILITY?”
3. Why does the fertilizing room look so cold, when it ia actually hot inside? What goes on there?
4. Why do particulars “make for virtue and happiness,” while generalities “are intellectually necessary evils?”
5. How do people know who they are in this society?
6. Why use the Bokanovsky process at all? How is it an instrument “of social stability?”
7. Why don’t the Epsilons “need human intelligence?”

Chapter 2

1. What work does the conditioning do? Who gets conditioned? How does hypnopaedia work?
2. Why condition the Deltas to hate nature but love outdoor sports?
3. How does time work in this book? History? Why does Ford say “History is Bunk?”
4. What are the various castes like, and why?
5. How do the students demonstrate their own conditioning?

Chapter 3

1. How do the children play together? What is childhood like?
2. How is our world depicted? How do we get from here to there?
3. Why must games be so complex in this society?
4. Why are strong emotions dangerous? Family relationships? Romance? Religion? Art? Culture?
5. How is sexuality used in this novel? Do you see any problems with it?
6. What does Mustapha Mond do? What is his relationship to history?
7. Is there anything unusual about Lenina Crowne? Bernard Marx? What? Why?
8. How does Huxley use the cinematic technique toward the end of this chapter?
9. What is soma? What are its uses?
10. How do people age in this society?

Chapter 4

1. What is life like for the Epsilon-Minus Semi-Moron who runs the elevator?
2. How do the other Alphas relate to Bernard?
3. What does Lenina do on her date?
4. What does she think of the lower castes?
5. Why is Bernard the way he is? What does he really want?
6. Why is Helmholtz the way he is? What does he want? How is he different from Bernard?

Chapter 5

1. What do Lenina and Henry talk about on their way home? What happens at the crematorium?
2. Why are stars depressing?
3. What are the solidarity services like? What role do they play? How does Bernard fit?

Chapter 6

1. Why is being alone a bad thing?
2. What do Lenina and Bernard do on their first date? Why is the ocean important? The moon?
3. What does Bernard say about freedom? What does he mean?
4. How does the date end?
5. What does it mean to be infantile in this society?
6. How does the director feel about Bernard? Why is he warning him?
7. What does his story mean? What does it show us about him?
8. How does Helmholtz feel about Bernard after he hears the story of the meeting with the director?
9. What do we learn from the Warden? What are the reservations like?
10. What does the word Malpais mean?

Chapter 7

1. How is the mesa like a ship?
2. Why doesn’t Lenina like their Indian guide?
3. What is the city itself like? What are the people like? How does Lenina respond? Bernard?
4. What ceremony do the witness? What does it mean? What does it seem like to Lenina?
5. What idols emerge from the ground?
6. How is John Savage different? What does he want? How does he respond to Lenina?
7. What is Linda’s story? What has her life been like here? How does Linda react to her?

Chapter 8

1. What was John’s upbringing like? His relationship with Linda? His education?
2. Why doesn’t linda want to be called a mother?
3. What social positions do Linda and John hold in Malpais?
4. What does John want in his life?
5. What does Linda tell him about the Other Place?
6. What does he learn from Shakespeare? How does he relate to Hamlet? The Tempest?
7. What does it mean to discover “Time and Death and God?”
8. What do John and Bernard have in common?
9. Why does Bernard want to take John to London?

Chapter 9

1, Why does Mustapha Mond agree to the plan?
2. What happens when John watches Lenina sleep? What does he think or feel?

Chapter 10

1. How and why was the DHC planing to make an example out of Bernard?
2. Why is unorthodoxy worse than murder?
3. How does Linda act in the hatchery? How does the DHC react? The spectators?


Chapter 11

1. Why does John become popular, but not Linda?
2. How does Bernard’s life change? How does he react? What does Helmholtz think?
3. How does Linda spend her time?
4. How does Bernard talk in public?
5. What does Mustapha Mond think of Bernard’s reports?
6. What does John think of the caste system? Of the clones? How does he use The Tempest now?
7. What do we learn about the reservations at Eton? What does John think?
8. How do the children respond to dying? Why?
9. How does Lenina feel about John?
10. What does John think about the feelies? Why?

Chapter 12

1. Why does John decide not to come to Bernard’s party? What does this mean for Bernard?
2. How does Lenina feel at the party? Why does she feel this way?
3. How does John feel? Why is he reading Romeo and Juliet?
4. What does it mean that Lenina likes looking at the moon now?
5. What role does Mustapha Mond play as a censor? Why des he do it? What does he censor? What does he really want?
6. How does Bernard’s position change? How do John and Helmholtz respond to Bernard now?
7. Why is Helmholtz in trouble with the authorities? What has he done that is dangerous, and why is it dangerous? Why did he do it? What does he want?
8. What does Helmholtz think of Shakespeare? Romeo and Juliet?
9. What does Helmholtz think is necessary for good writing?

Chapter 13

1. What are the consequences of Lenina’s emotion? What is happening?
2. How does she feel for John? What does she do to get what she wants?
3. How does John feel for Lenina? What does he want to do to prove it?
3. How does John react to Lenina’s actions? Why does he respond this way? What did he want from her?

Chapter 14

1. What is the hospital for the dying like? What are the dying like?
2. Note the television. (Recall TV did not exist as we know it in 1932.)  What is significant about it?
3. Why is Linda dying?
4. What memories flood over John as he stands before his mother? Why these particular memories? What are his memories of the “other place”? What role does memory play in civilization?
5. Why are the Delta children at the hospital? What does John think of this?
6. Why isn’t death terrible for those in the civilized world? What does this mean for the individual?

Chapter 15

1. The title phrase recurs here. How is it used differently than before? What does it mean now?
2. Why does John decide to interfere with the soma distribution? Why does he say it is poison?
3. What is John’s conception of slavery and freedom? Manhood? Liberty?
4. What does he think of the Deltas to whom he delivers his speech?
5. What roles do Bernard and Helmholtz play here? What does this tell us about their characters?
6. How does the soma riot end? What does it mean to be happy and good?


Chapter 16

1. How would you describe Bernard’s behavior in this chapter? Why does he act this way?
2. Why doesn’t John like civilization?
3. Why does Mond say old and beautiful things are forbidden?
4. Why can’t tragedies be written now? What is necessary for tragedy?
5. What does art mean in the new world? What can’t it mean? What is Helmholtz’s role?
6. What does Mond say is the role of liberty? Happiness? Stability? Truth and Beauty?
7. How does Mond explain the caste system? Do you agree?
8. What would happen with an entire society of Alphas?
9. Why must science be constrained? Progress? Do you agree?
10. What choice did Mond make as a young physicist? Why? What is his real position?
11. Why does Helmholtz make the choice he makes?

Chapter 17

1. Why does Mond want to talk with John alone? What do they talk about?
2. What is the significance of their discussion of religion? What does John argue religion can give to civilization? Why does Mond argue that it is unnecessary and potentially dangerous?
3. What does Mond believe is the role of God? How is it related to the self?
4. What role does solitude play in spirituality?
5. How does John argue that the civilized man has been degraded? From what and to what?
6. What are your conceptions of the roles of self-denial, chastity, nobility, heroism? What would John or Mond say?
7. What role does Mond say soma plays in this? What is an “opiate of the masses”?
8. What does it mean “to suffer the sling and arrows of outrageous fortune” or oppose them?
9. What does John mean by saying that nothing in civilization costs enough?
10. In saying no to civilization, what does John say yes to? Would you make the same decision?

Chapter 18

1. How does John purify himself?
2. Where does he go, and what does he plan to do there?
3. Does this represent a healthy alternative from society?
4. Why the self-flagellation?
5. What are his thoughts of Lenina?
6. What makes the film so popular back in London?
7. What does Lenina want? What does John think she wants?
8. How does the crowd respond? What happens that evening? What becomes of Lenina?
9. What is John’s decision? Why does he make it? Were there alternatives?


1. How do you know who you are? 2. Is this a utopia or a dystopia? What might this decision entail?
3. What is so special about Ford or Freud?
4. At what price happiness?
5. What should be the goal of any society?
6. Who has power here?
7. How is stability maintained?
8. What role does the individual play in this society? How is that individual defined?
9. Who is the stability good for?
10. From whose point of view are we seeing this society?
11. What point of view does John represent?
12. Isn’t this “peace on earth and goodwill towards men”?
13. What would you be willing to give up for world peace, an end to poverty, hunger, etc.?
14. What would you consider to be a utopia?
(Source for Additional Questions:  http://wiki.english.ucsb.edu/index.php/ English_192 _Brave _New _World_Discussion_Questions by M. Stevenson)
Group Review Activity:

Each group will be assigned two to three chapters to cover.  You should then come up with a typed:

  • Summary of the chapters in at least fifteen sentences
  • Have three quotes from each chapter that you feel are significant.  Explain their significance in at least one sentence.
  • List at least five occurrences in your chapters that shocked/amazed/humored you in terms of its prophetic nature or in regards to its subject.
  • Answer the questions (under Additional Questions) that pertain to the chapters you have been assigned.
  • Have a one sentence review of the book.  This can be done as a group or each individual can come up with his or her own sentence.

We will work on this in-class on _________.  It is due to me on _______ if you would like me to photocopy for the class.  Otherwise, you are responsible for photocopying it for the entire class (and your period has ____ students) when you present on _______.  This is worth 25 points. 

Group Creative Activity (Note:  Choose ONE of the following):

You will complete this activity in a group of your choosing (of no more than four).  

1.  Society of the Future- Create your own vision of how you picture society in the twenty-sixth century.  You will need to present (on a poster) your ideas on the buildings, the clothing, the technology, the cars, and anything else you can think of.  Please do not just google “future cars” and tape a bunch of pictures together.  Instead, your poster should be well-thought out and impressive.  You also need to include a short written explanation of whether you believe your society will be better than the society we currently live in and why.

2.  Create Your Own Dystopian Society!- If you had me as a teacher last year, you created your own utopian society.  Now, think of a society in the exact opposite way.  Give the community a name, a geographical setting, a government system, an economic base, the “attractions” of life available, the population, a map, and a list of five reasons why your society would fail. The map should be in the center of a poster, with the other information neatly organized around it.

3.  Create a PSA (Public Service Announcement) for Mustapha Mond’s Department of Propaganda  Your group needs to pretend you are currently living in Huxley’s vision of 26th century London.  You need to videotape a PSA that will be polished and smooth, upbeat yet to the point, and simple but catchy.  It must effectively and dramatically convey the message that obedience to the values and organization of our society leads to individual virtue and sanity, thereby bringing about stability and happiness for all.  The broadcast should last between [one to two] minutes and should be perfectly understandable and equally digestible to both an Alpha-Plus and Delta-Minus” (Geib).  You should also think about including the slogans of this society in your presentation.  In addition, make sure you have answered the following questions in your videotaped presentation:

  • How can you fashion your message so as to gain maximum acceptance by the target audience?   
  • What tricks can you use to make your message seem reasonable and not overbearing? 
  • What techniques can you use to influence people without their feeling manipulated or controlled? 
  • Is your message upbeat and is the tone appropriate to our brave new world? 
  • Will your slogans and/or jingles stay in people's minds afterwards?  Are they simple? Are they catchy? 
  • Is the video broadcast polished and attention grabbing? 
  • Does it reinforce the core values of the society?

You should consider covering one of the following aspects in your PSA:

  • Encourage people to shop
  • Explain why being a test tube is so wonderful
  • Encourage people to take soma
  • Other ideas?

 In fact, you must run your idea by me before you film.  Since aspects of this novel are adult in nature, you do not want to film a PSA that will A. Get you into trouble or B. Have your parents ask “What on earth are you filming?”

(Source of This Assignment:  By R. Geib at http://www.foothilltech.org/rgeib/english/bnw/culminating

We will work on this activity in class on ________.  It will be due on _______.  It is worth 25 points.

Creative Writing Activity:

-Pretend you are an Alpha, Beta, Gamma, Delta, or Epsilon writing in your diary.  Describe a typical day in your life.  You can be serious or humorous in tone.  This assignment should be 250-350 words.  It will be completed in class on ____________.  It is worth 10 points.

Short Essay #2—Comparison/Contrast Essay on The Catcher in the Rye. 

Your essay should be 500-750 words.  It needs to be typed, Times New Roman 12 point font, double-spaced, include at least two quotes from the novel with parenthetical citations, and include a works cited page crediting the novel.  It is not necessary to do additional research in the writing of this paper, but if you do choose to include literary criticism you should credit your source (in a parenthetical citation in the paper and in a works cited entry).  Please keep in mind Sparknotes, Cliffs Notes, the summary on Wikipedia, and the like are not considered literary criticisms, so talk to me if you are thinking of using an outside source.  (In ENC 1102 in our second semester, we will work on using literary research.  It is perfectly fine to depend on YOUR OWN OPINION IN WRITING right now.)

Some aspects to consider comparing/contrasting:  any two suitable characters, savage society vs. “modern” society (such as view of art or love in each), Huxley’s fictional “modern” society vs. today’s society

Your rough draft will be due on ______ (and is worth 10 points) your peer editing will be done in class on ______ (and is worth 10 points) and your final draft is due on _______ (and is worth 75 points).

List of Some Awesome/ Not-So-Awesome (Depending on Your Taste) Dystopian Movies:

(Note:  No, we are not watching these in class.  This is just because I happen to like dystopian movies and I thought you might like to Netflix a few if you do as well.)

  • Equilibrium
  • Idiocracy
  • Strange Days
  • Logan’s Run
  • I Robot
  • 1984
  • Artificial Intelligence (A.I.)
  • A Scanner Darkly
  • Gattaca
  • V for Vendetta
  • Pleasantville
  • Twelve Monkeys
  • Minority Report
  • The Matrix
  • Children of Men
  • Blade Runner
  • A Clockwork Orange


Can you think of any others?

Aldoux Huxley Biography (1894-1953)
English novelist and critic, grandson of the prominent biologist T.H. Huxley (see further below) and brother of Julian Huxley, also a biologist. Aldous Huxley's production was wide. Besides novels he published travel books, histories, poems, plays, and essays on philosophy, arts, sociology, religion and morals. Among Huxley's best known novels is BRAVE NEW WORLD (1932), which is one of the classical works of science fiction along with George Orwell's Nineteen-Eighty-Four.
"Half of the human race lives in manifest obedience to the lunar rhythm; and there is evidence to show that the psychological and therefore the spiritual life, not only of women, but of men too, mysteriously ebbs and flows with the changes of the moon. There are unreasoned joys, inexplicable miseries, laughters and remorses without a cause. Their sudden and fantastic alternations constitute the ordinary weather of our minds. These moods, of which the more gravely numinous may be hypostasized as gods, the lighter, if we will, as hobgoblins and fairies, are the children of the blood and humours. But the blood and humours obey, among many other masters, the changing moon. Touching the soul directly through the eyes and, indirectly, along the dark channels of the blood, the moon is doubly a divinity." (from 'Meditations of the Moon' in Music at Night and Other Essays, 1931)
Aldous Leonard Huxley was born in Godalming, Surrey, into a well-to-do upper-middle-class family. Leonard Huxley, his father, was a biographer, editor, and poet. Huxley's mother, Julia Arnold, was the daughter of Thomas Arnold, a brother of Matthew Arnold, the great British humanist. Julia's sister was the novelist Mary Augusta Ward, who published under the name Mrs. Humphry Ward. Julia Arnold died of cancer when Huxley was fourteen. Later Huxley said that it gave him a sense of the transience of human happiness.
Huxley first studied at Eton College, Berkshire (1908-13). At the age of 16 Huxley suffered an attack of keratitis punctata and became for a period of about 18 months totally blind. By using special glasses and one eye recovered sufficiently he was able to read and he also learned braille. Despite a condition of near-blindness, Huxley continued his studies at Balliol College, Oxford (1913-15), receiving his B.A. in English in 1916. Unable to pursue his chosen career as a scientist - or fight in World War on the front - Huxley turned to writing. He worked for the War Office in London in 1917, and taught briefly at Eton College and Repton. His first collection of poetry appeared in 1916 and two more volumes followed by 1920. In 1919-20 he was member of the editorial staff of Athenaeum under Middleton Murray, Katherine Mansfield's husband. Huxley wrote biographical and architectural articles and reviews of fiction, drama music and art.
"I met, not long ago, a young man who aspired to become a novelist. Knowing that I was in the profession, he asked me to tell him how he should set to work to realize his ambition. I did my best to explain. 'The first thing,' I said, 'is to buy quite a lot of paper, a bottle of ink, and a pen. After that you merely have to write.'" (from 'Sermons in Cats' in Music at Night)
In 1920-21 Huxley was drama a critic for Westminster Gazette, an assistant at the Chelsea Book Club and worked for Condé Nast Publications (1922). His first novel, CROME YELLOW (1921), a witty criticism of society, appeared in 1921. Huxley's style, a combination of brilliant dialogue, cynicism, and social criticism, made him one of the most fashionable literary figures of the decade. He was a friend of Lady Ottoline Morrell and the Bloomsbury group, which included such writers as Virginia Woolf, Clive Bell, Lytton Strachey, and E.M. Forster. In eight years he published a dozen books, among them POINT COUNTER POINT (1928), in which the numerous characters, among them D.H. Lawrence, Murray, Mansfield, and the author himself, are compared to instruments in an orchestra, and each character plays his separate portion of Huxley's vision of life. Later these early works, mostly satirical comments on contemporary events, have been criticized for their rather one-dimensional characters, which the author used as a mouthpiece to say "almost everything about almost anything" - as Huxley once described the nature of the essay. In DO WHAT YOU WILL (1929) Huxley predicts that Karl Marx's Proletariat becomes "a bourgeoisie with oily instead of inky fingers", compares the first motion picture in which spoken dialogue is heard, 'The Jazz Singer', to a "brimming bowl of hog-wash", and sees that at out time "monotheism has lost the value which circumstances once gave it. It lacks political utility, and to the individual it is a poison." In the essay 'Fashions on Love' he defends D.H. Lawrence's doctrine of the 'natural love' but rejects "the sexual impulse, which now spends itself purposelessly..."
During the 1920s Huxley formed a close friendship with D.H. Lawrence with whom he traveled in Italy and France. For most of the 1920s Huxley lived in Italy with his wife and son Matthew. With her Huxley also traveled in India and the Dutch Indies. In the 1930s he moved to Sanary, near Toulon, where he wrote in four months Brave New World, a dystopian vision of a highly technological society of the future (the word "utopia" comes from Thomas More's novel Utopia). Huxley turned upside down H.G. Wells' scientific optimism. Developments in sciences and cultural changes in his own time inspired much of imagination - such as mass production, which revolutionized industry, air travel, glamorized by Charles Lindbergh and Amelia Earhart, behaviorist psychology, and explorations in genetics. Margaret Mead's Coming of Age in Samoa (1928) also was among the books he read for the novel. In the book Huxley answered to fears of hopes of wide variety of his readers and in its first year it sold a total of twenty-eight thousand copies in England and in the United States, and enjoyed respectable sales throughout the remainder of the century.
In the1930s Huxley was deeply concerned with the Peace Pledge Union. He moved in 1937 with the guru-figure Gerald Heard to the United States, believing that the Californian climate would help his eyesight, a constant burden, which he treated with Dr. W.H. Bates's eye-training method. The results he described in THE ART OF SEEING (1942). After this turning point in his life, Huxley abandoned pure fictional writing and chose the essay as the vehicle for expressing his ideas. He also wrote screenplays in collaboration with Christopher Isherwood for film studios, but did not gain success in this field. Among their unproduced film treatments was Jacob's Hands, a story about healing powers and disappointment in love. Huxley also was a regular contributor to Vedanta and the West, the magazine Isherwood edited while a discipline of Swami Prabhavananda.
Brave New World - A cry of warning and nightmarish black comedy of a future society.- The Nine Year War, a global holocaust, has reshaped the history. In the year 632 after Ford (i.e., the 26th century) the world has attained a kind of scientifically balanced communist utopia. Universal happiness is preserved by psychotropic drugs. Religion, art, theoretical science are unimportant, but life is free of illness and old age. Scientists are able to produce babies who will fit their future job exactly. There are five types of humans, ranging from the intellectually superior Alphas to the semimoronic Epsilons. Alpha-Plus Bernard Marx resists soma, the soporific drug carried by all citizens. It helps to stop any signs of stress or dissatisfaction and longing for a fuller life. Eventually Bernard is exiled to Iceland. John the Savage, raised in a reservation of American Indian primitives and abandoned by his mother in a primitive outpost, comes into this world. John is thinking, feeling individual, who has read Shakespeare and witnessed primitive religious rituals. Bernard brings John and his ruined Beta-Minus mother Linda to England. When his mother dies of an overdose of the feel-good drug, John swells a violent revolt. He engages in a dialogue with the World Controller Mustapha Mond and debates the merits of freedom and passion. He is harassed as a freak of the accepted social order. In the end the Savage yields to the temptations of the carefree world, and kills himself in disgust. - The book received mixed critics. H.G. Wells was offended by what he regarded as Huxley's betrayal of science and the future. Bertrand Russell and Hermann Hesse recognized the serious intent beneath the surface of playful wit. The novelist, essayist and critic C.P. Snow dismissed in a 1959 review both Orwell's Nineteen Eighty-Four (1948) and Brave New World especially for their pessimism about scientific progress and social purpose.
Several of Huxley's screenplays never got filmed. His best screenplays for Hollywood included MGM's Pride and Prejudice (1940). The first film project offered was an adaptation of Galsworthy's Forsyte Saga, which Huxley turned down, explaining in a letter, ''Even the lure of enormous lucre could not reconcile me to remaining closeted for months with the ghost of the late poor John Galsworthy. I couldn't face it.'' In 1938 he wrote an uncredited treatment for Madame Curie, directed by Mervyn LeRoy. With John Houseman and Robert Stevenson he worked for the 20th Century-Fox film Jane Eyre (1944), starring Orson Welles and Joan Fontaine. Woman's Vengeance (1947), directed by Zoltan Korda and starring Charles Boyer and Jessica Tandy, was based on Huxley's story 'The Gioconda Smile.'
"One Folk, One Realm, One Leader. Union with the unity of an insect swarm. Knowledgeless understanding of nonsense and diabolism. And then the newsreel camera had cut back to the serried ranks, the swastikas, the brass bands, the yelling hypnotist on the rostrum. And here once again, in the glare of his inner light, was the brown insectlike column, marching endlessly to the tunes of this rococo horror-music. Onward Nazi soldiers, onward Christian soldiers, onward Marxists and Muslims, onward every chosen People, every Crusader and Holy War-maker. Onward into misery, into all wickedness, into death!" (from Island, 1962)
BRAVE NEW WORLD REVISITED appeared in 1958. He stated that in writing Brave New World he had failed to recognize the ominous potential of nuclear fission, "for the possibilities of atomic energy had been a popular topic of conversation for years before the book was written." He believed that individual freedom was much closer to extinction than he had imagined. Huxley's other later works include THE DEVILS OF LOUDON (1952), depicting mass-hysteria and exorcism in the 17th-century France. ISLAND (1962) was an utopian novel and a return to the territory of Brave New World, in which a journalist shipwrecks on Pala, the fabled island, and discovers there a kind and happy people. But the earthly paradise is not immune to the harsh realities of oil policy. BRAVE NEW WORLD REVISITED (1958) was a sequel to his classic novel. Huxley compared the predictions of his earlier work with subsequent developments in science and society. In 1963 appeared LITERATURE AND SCIENCE, a collection of essays.
In his later years Huxley wrote two books about mind-altering drugs, becoming a guru among Californian hippies'. While writing Brave New World Huxley had read about drugs, but it took 22 years before he experimented with them himself. In a article from 1931, Huxley stated that drug-taking "constitutes one of the most curious and also, it seems to me, one of the most significant chapters in the natural history of human beings." THE DOORS OF PERCEPTION (see Jim Morrison), published in 1954, was an influential study of consciousness expansion through mescalineand. Huxley also started to use LSD and showed interest in Hindu philosophy. The Doors of Perception prompted Thomas Mann to write in a letter, that it is a "completely – I don't want to say immoral, but one must say irresponsible book, which can only contribute to the stupefaction of the world and to its inability to meet the deadly serious questions of the time with intelligence." Kingsley Amis said in the Spectator that Huxley's "present role" is "that of a crank". In 1961 Huxley suffered a severe loss when his house and his papers were totally destroyed in a bush-fire. Little survived apart from the manuscript of Island. Huxley died in Los Angeles on November 22, 1963. In the media news of his death were overshadowed by the assassination of President Kennedy. Huxley was married twice. In 1919 he married Maria Nys, a Belgian, who died 1955. They had one son. In 1956 he married the violinist and psychotherapist Laura Archera. They had first met in 1848 when Laura Archera was planning to make a film on the Palio, the annual horce race in Siena. She hoped that Huxley would write it.
As a essayist Huxley was concerned about the power of science and technology. His skepticism caused much controversy among his readers. Huxley's philosophical cul-de-sac led him finally to seek answers from mysticism and the thought of the East. One of Huxley's most puzzling ideas was the education of the human being as 'amphibian', one capable of living in different environments. Late in his life Huxley remarked, "It is a bit embarrassing to have been concerned with the human problem all one's life and find at the end that one has no more to offer by way of advice than 'Try to be a little kinder.'"
(Source:  http://www.kirjasto.sci.fi/ahuxley.htm)
Information on Brave New World Revisited:
If you liked Brave New World, you might find it interesting that in 1958 Aldous Huxley wrote a sequel of sorts commenting on how many of his predictions had (sadly) come true.  He mentions “I feel a good deal less optimistic than I did when I was writing Brave New World.  The prophecies made in 1931 are coming true much sooner than I thought they would” (2). 
His chapters are:

  • Overpopulation- He considered it a major threat to our world
  • Quantity, Quality, Morality
  • Over-Organization- He explains “We begin to close our identity when society and technology becomes too organized and stabilized.”
  • Propaganda in a Democratic Society-
    • Rational- which enlightens those to whom it is meant for
    • Non-Rational- appeals to passion
  • Propaganda under a Dictatorship- Discusses Hitler’s use of propaganda
  • The Arts of Selling
  • Brainwashing- discusses Pavlov; Communist use of fear
  • Chemical Persuasion- discusses soma and how it causes no ill-effects.  Karl Marx said “Religion was opium of people” and in BNW  “soma was people’s religion” (83).
  • Subconscious Persuasion
    • If person is in “abnormally high suggestibility” (100) through stress or other influence one can be convinced to do something
    • Mentions his only mistake in BNW is “There is no reference in my fable to subliminal projection.  It is a mistake of omission which, if I were to rewrite the book today, I should most certainly correct” (102).
  • Hypnopaedia
    • In BNW only used for moral teaching
    • Does not actually occur when person asleep but almost asleep (i.e. person is told he is thirsty in sleep, gets up and gets a drink of water)
  • Education for Freedom- stresses individuality, even though we are programmed by society
  • What Can Be Done?- discusses solutions to society’s ills (140-143)

Which of these chapters (based on the brief information you see here) do you see as a problem in our modern society? 

Which do you not perceive as a problem?


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Brave New World Topics of Discussion


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