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Jan 07, Peggy Delong rated it did not like it. Stupid This is the worst book I have ever tried to read. Very boring, I only got to the third chapter. One star and that's being very generous. There are no discussion topics on this book yet.

A Tale of Forbidden Love

About Philippa Alon. Philippa Alon. Trivia About A Tale of Forbidd The technique reaches an extreme in Chapter Three, when we hear a babble of unidentified voices- Lenina's, Fanny Crowne's, Mustapha Mond's- that at first sound chaotic but soon give us a vivid understanding of this brave new world.

The word "Utopia" means "no place" in Greek. Sir Thomas More first used it in as the title of a book about such an ideal state. But the idea of a Utopia goes much further back. Many critics consider Plato's Republic , written in the fourth century B. Irony is the use of words to express an idea that is the direct opposite of the stated meaning, or an outcome of events contrary to what was expected. In this way two Utopian traditions developed in English literature. One was optimistic and idealistic- like More's, or Edward Bellamy's Looking Backward , which foresaw a mildly socialist, perfect state.

Wells, an important English writer, believed in progress through science and wrote both novels and nonfiction about social and scientific changes that could produce a Utopia.


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The second tradition was satiric, like Jonathan Swift's Gulliver's Travels , in which both tiny and gigantic residents of distant lands were used to satirize the England of Swift's day. Another satiric Utopia was Samuel Butler's Erewhon ; the title is an anagram of "nowhere" , which made crime a disease to be cured and disease a crime to be punished. In Brave New World , Huxley clearly belongs in the satiric group. Though toward the end of his career he wrote a nonsatiric novel of a good Utopia, Island. He told a friend that he started to write Brave New World as a satire on the works of H.

Soon he increased his targets, making fun not only of science but also of religion, using his idea of the future to attack the present. As in most works about Utopia, Brave New World lacks the complexity of characterization that marks other kinds of great novels. The people tend to represent ideas the author likes or dislikes. Few are three-dimensional or true to life; most resemble cartoon characters.

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As do many writers of Utopian works, Huxley brings in an outsider John the Savage who can see the flaws of the society that are invisible to those who have grown up within it. As Huxley worked on his book, his satire darkened. The book became a serious warning that if we use science as an instrument of power, we will probably apply it to human beings in the wrong way, producing a horrible society. Brave New World belongs firmly in the tradition of Utopian writing, but the Utopia it portrays is a bleak one, indeed.

For example, it starts like a movie, with a long shot of a building- but a "squat" building "only" thirty-four stories high. The building bears a name unlike any you've heard in real life- "Central London Hatchery and Conditioning Centre"- and the motto of a World State you know doesn't exist. The camera's eye then moves through a north window into the cold Fertilizing Room, and focuses on someone you know is a very important person from the way he speaks. He is the Director of Hatcheries and Conditioning, and he's explaining things to a group of new students who still have only a very limited understanding of what goes on here.

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You may find the Director and his Hatchery strange, but you probably know how the students feel as they try to note everything the Director says, even his opening remark, "Begin at the beginning. In fact, the functions of the Hatchery are hard to understand because Huxley has the Director throw large amounts of "scientific data" at you without giving you time to figure out their meaning. Huxley thereby undermines one of his intentions here- to use the Director as a cartoon character who expounds some of the scientific ideas that the author wants you to think about.

He also wants to satirize a world that makes such a know-it-all important and powerful. Sometimes the real world gives such people power, too. You may meet scientists like the Director in college or businesspeople like him at work. The Director talks about incubators and fertilizing, about surgically removing the ovary from the female and keeping it alive artificially.

He talks about bringing together ova the unfertilized eggs of a female and male gametes the cells or spermatozoa containing the father's half of the genetic material needed to make a new being in a glass container. He talks about a mysterious budding process that turns one egg into 96 embryos. The Director mentions all these things and more before Huxley tells you that the Hatchery hatches human beings.

The Director takes that fact for granted, but Huxley surprises you all the more by letting it sneak up on you.

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Do you think it's frightening or disgusting to breed human beings like chickens on a farm? In this Utopia, the price is worth paying to control the total population; it breeds as many or as few people as the world controllers decide are needed. Huxley's imaginary world is thus dealing with a real world problem- overpopulation.

You've probably read or heard warnings about this, warnings that the world, or the United States, or a developing country like Kenya, has more people than it can feed. China is trying to reward families that have only one child and penalize those that have more, but no country has yet tried to do what Huxley's brave new world does. The Director talks less about stemming overpopulation than he does about increasing population in the right way.

In the real world, it's unusual for a woman to produce more than ten children, and the average American family has two or fewer.

A tale of forbidden love lives on

In Huxley's world, Bokanovsky's budding process and Podsnap's ripening technique can produce over 15, brothers and sisters from a single ovary. You may know this idea from the word "cloning," used in science fiction and to describe look-alike clothing styles. Identical clones will make a stable community, the Director says, one without conflict. In the world of Bokanovsky and Podsnap, babies are not born. They develop in bottles and are "decanted"- a word that usually refers to pouring wine gently out of its bottle so that the sediment at the bottom is not disturbed.

The Director takes you and the students to the bottling room, where you learn that the clone-embryo grows inside the bottle on a bed of sow's peritoneum the lining of the abdomen of an adult female pig. Huxley makes a point of the distance because each meter represents a point at which the embryo is given specific conditioning for its future life. The days are approximately equal to the nine months it takes a baby to develop inside its mother in the real world, but neither Director nor students mention that kind of birth.

Although Huxley doesn't state it yet, if you think about it you'll see that bokanovskifying and bottling mean that nobody becomes pregnant. This gives you a hint of what will be said concerning sex and family life.


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In this world, a person's class status is biologically and chemically engineered. The genes that determine brains and brawn are carefully selected. Then, a bottled embryo undergoes the initial conditioning that will determine its skills and strength, in keeping with its destiny as an Alpha, Beta, Gamma, Delta, or Epsilon. These names are letters in the Greek alphabet, familiar to Huxley's original English readers because in English schools they are used as grades- like our As, Bs, etc. In Brave New World , each names a class or caste. Alphas and Betas remain individuals; only Gammas, Deltas, and Epsilons are bokanovskified.

Alpha embryos receive the most oxygen in order to develop the best brains; Epsilons receive the least because they won't need intelligence for the work they'll do, like shoveling sewage. Embryos predestined to be tropical workers are inoculated against typhoid and sleeping sickness.


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  4. Bottles containing future astronauts are kept constantly in rotation to improve their sense of balance. There's a conditioning routine for every function in this society.