Aldous Huxley (1894-1963)
Huxley was born in 1894 in a family that belonged in the English aristocrat literary and scientific environment. He spent most of the Twenties in Italy but then moved to France. He became politically active and wrote pamphlets against the Spanish civil war. In his last years, he lived in California and died in 1963.
His writings can be divided into three main phases:
• First: this phase was predominantly aesthetic and aimed to underline the nihilistic attitude of Modern society. Just like T.S. Eliot, Huxley wrote about the effects of the war on England and its People, who were affected by a moral breakdown and were condemned to a “world of broken images”. His main works in this phase are “Crome Yellow” and “Antic Hay”.
• The 2nd phase is characterised by a strong political and ethical commitment. In this phase belongs his most famous work “Brave New World” (1932), where he stated that the real enemy of humankind is human selfishness itself.
• Third: In his last phase, Huxley dedicated himself to the Metaphysical and experienced drugs trying to subvert the mechanistic world he lived in, by trying to deeply understand reality.
Brave New World (1932)
Brave New World is an anti-utopian novel, whose title comes from Shakespeare’s work The Tempest, where Miranda seeing another human being for the first time says “Oh brave new world that has such people in it!”. This book is about John, a Savage, who has the opportunity to go live in the “civilised” world, or “new world”. Here time is counted after Henry Ford and every individual is conditioned to happiness for life. One’s role in society is decided at birth and everyone is brainwashed to be constantly satisfied, and thanks to the use of “soma”, a drug used to solve any issue. John, disgusted by the new world, meets Mustapha, a Resident Controller, and discuss with him on the meaning of happiness and freedom, and the importance of “negative” emotions. John then becomes a victim of scientific experiments and this symbolises Huxley’s pessimism and lack of hope.
This novel is influenced by the Wellsian works “A Modern Utopia” and “Men like Gods”, and is a satire of what the former author feared and disliked.