Brave New World

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Brave New World

Postby Cannon_Fodder on Tue May 09, 2006 4:53 pm

I read Brave New World (by Aldous Huxley) for my grade 11 English course, and it served one purpose to me: reinforcing my opinion that all of the books that I will be reading for high school courses will be horrible pieces of trash that were included in the course reading for the purpose of providing "symbolism", which seems to be the favorite tool of torture employed by the school board, while still doing absolutely nothing for the students. I have maintained this opinion for a good while, but BNW was just past my point of tolerance. I finished the book quickly, thankfully, because if I hadn't I have severe doubts that I would have been able to finish it. Huxley, even though he has a nice style of writing that is pleasant to read, doesn't understand a couple of key things about writing. First, he doesn't quite understand the concept of subtlety (seriously, the guy names his characters Marx, Lenin and Benito Hoover). Also, he seems to think that a full length novel of not-so-subtle political commentary will keep people interested, and make them think that the book is decent. Apparently, the concept of plot has completely escaped him. Now, if we have such trash being spewed at us, one might expect to at least have a bit of continuity. But instead, he is constantly mixing up the colours that each caste should be wearing, and also seems to ignore that most of the main characters in the book should have dozens of clones of themselves. This never becomes clear, though, and any time that the clones come into the novel, it just seems as though he suddenly remembered the cloning concept and decided to make a reference to it.

The book also makes it quite obvious that Huxley never actually had a plan of what he wanted to happen in the book. The main character for most of the book is given a quite unforgiveable send-off, and never even becomes remotely likeable. At the end of the bok, after our not-so-beloved main character walks out of a single room and therefore out of the book, we switch over to another main character who has just as uninteresting a life as our previous main character. Some minor events occur with the local media, and then the book ends. Yes, the book just ends. Nothing explaining what happened to the other characters; we are meant to assume that they live completely uneventful lives fter the uneventful part of their lives that the book goes through. It's over.

I've discussed most of these points with my teacher, and she still maintains that the book has a less-than-trash status, which I can't understand. What furthers my disbelief is the fact that another English teacher whom I have spoken to agrees with my trash-status for this book. When I was in her class previously, and had brought up similar objections to the book we were reading then, she still maintained that it was not that bad, as did every other teacher I consulted (similar events occured in the ninth grade). It really seemed to me that speaking against a course book was fairly well sacrilege. To have a teacher actually admit how bad BNW is makes me wonder just how blind to the facts the school board. I ask you, why does my School Board hate children?

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Re: Brave New World

Postby Rex-Imperator on Tue May 09, 2006 5:18 pm

I can't believe you didn't like BNW, I enjoyed it when I read it (but then again I didn't read it for a class, so maybe that is what killed your enjoyment of the book).

Maybe you'll like George Orwell's books better...
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Postby Dr. Otis Lansa on Tue May 09, 2006 6:08 pm

Huh. It's a favorite of mine, probably because:

a) I never had to read it for school (no "symbolism"; the crude curriculum-based analysis used in HS English courses could destroy any good novel)
b) I skipped over the details (caste colours etc.), probably because the whole "baby in a bottle" system seemed ridiculous to me to start with (not bad for c. 1920, though)
c) Having read "Doors of Perception" previously, I forgave Huxley his more or less unnecessary and constant mescaline references.
d) I could emphasize with both main characters, and as one gets unlikable, the other one takes over.

Some books are funny like that, though. I've read "The Catcher in the Rye" a couple of times, and to me it's got a horrible narrative style, a stupid protagonist, no plot, and would be made much worse if I was forced to analyse symbolism in it. I'll probably read it again sometime though.

They should just teach the Alice books every year from K-12 and focus on different aspects. :wink:
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Postby alexrose on Tue May 09, 2006 7:11 pm

I agree Cannon...it was a horrible book. Thankfully, it's not curriculum here and I didn't have any assignment on it. It's been ages, but I'll try to comment.

I won't even go so far to say the writing was good. The switching back part bothered me a lot. Overall, the book had the distinct feeling of a rough draft.

The supporting sci-fi portion was ridiculous. The flat characters hardly helped. And, I got tired of the author crtitizing the sex and mother thing pretty quickly. We get the idea.

On the flip side...I admit it did raise some interesting questions...It pointed out the emptiness of an epicurean society, though failed to provide an answer to why. I got that Huxley wanted to show how awful it was...but most people were still happy.

A university student told me it was brilliant and that I should read it, so maybe it's something you need to be a little more mature enough for?

Anyhow, 1984 is brilliant. The opposite almost. Read that.
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Re: Brave New World

Postby Bob the Unbeliever on Tue May 09, 2006 8:21 pm

Cannon_Fodder wrote:... and it served one purpose to me: reinforcing my opinion that all of the books that I will be reading for high school courses will be horrible pieces of trash that were included in the course reading for the purpose of providing "symbolism", which seems to be the favorite tool of torture employed by the school board, while still doing absolutely nothing for the students. .....


I couldn't agree more.

I was forced to read Anna Karenna in 12th grade, and it was abysmal.

And I love to read* - a wide variety of works, but Tolestoy never heard of a period or comma. Not to mention he rambles more that I do - and that is saying alot! (example: one section sticks in my mind, he took pages and pages to describe a character buttoning his stupid shirt ... )

Another supposedly "classic" author I hate: F. Scott Fitzgerald. I had The Great Gatsby forced on me in a College literature class, and it was even worse than Tolestoy. Shorter, but far, far worse: I'd rather have had to re-read Anna K ... :P

Then there are some of Charles Dicken's more obscure works, which are not worth killing any trees to print - even pine-trees!

I had much of his junk force-fed to me during H.S.

...

OTOH, I did get to read Treasure Island, Guliver's Travels and several of the classical Greek authors. Which I enjoyed, mostly.
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* so much so, that I never once prepared for an oral book report; when my time came to present, I just decided at the last minute: "of the several books I've finished in the past few days, which one did I enjoy the most ..."

I was always amused by my classmates frantically trying to finish their oral-book-report book just before class ... <smirk>

Even my written book reports were usually written in the 5-minutes before class - I never minded writing or talking about a book I really liked. (Always got "A"'s, too - not to brag, but, well it is bragging, isn't it? <heh>)
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Re: Brave New World

Postby Dr. Otis Lansa on Tue May 09, 2006 8:36 pm

Bob the Unbeliever wrote:Another supposedly "classic" author I hate: F. Scott Fitzgerald. I had The Great Gatsby forced on me in a College literature class, and it was even worse than Tolestoy.


Agreed there!

If they want something "classic" and "symbolic" to read that might keep high school students interested, they should assign "Tropic of Cancer" or "The Beach".

Actually, The Beach might go over well. I'm NEVER watching that movie.
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Re: Brave New World

Postby Rex-Imperator on Tue May 09, 2006 9:30 pm

The Great Gatsby


To put it bluntly... This book sucked major BALLS!!!!

I tried to read it on my own and I stopped reading it after pg 5 (yes it sucked THAT badly) and I can thank GOD that I haven't been assigned this book... yet.
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Postby Bob the Unbeliever on Wed May 10, 2006 2:19 am

Auntie Dee Dee wrote:That was late '60s. 1984 scared me.

Fitzgerald has always seemed overwrought and overrated. :twisted:


I read 1984 and another classic Make Room, Make Room* by Harry Harrison and Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep** by Philip K Dick all at about the same time.

Oh, and Alas Babylon by Pat Frank as well.

It was the '70's and I was into distopias at the time. I read other distopian stories, but never did get around to Brave New World, having been warned off of it by a friend (lucky me!).

Of the ones I mentioned, Alas is by far the best, and is about a brave community in Florida shortly after WW 3, and what they did to make a Commmunity out of the mess they found themselves in. (No mutants or other silly trash - Alas could have happened as written.)

Make Room was better by far than 1984, hands-down. Either were better than Do Androids Dream, though. Poor Mr Dick was a depressing individual, sometimes.

But, Make Room led me to Harrison's fine Stainless Steel Rat series, but that is another thread.

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* Make Room, Make Room was made into Soylent Green, a lousy movie that totally missed the point of the novel, but focused on a tiny part of what was happening. The movie totally missed the HUGE overcrowding and severe lack of food (to the middle-class and poor) the novel stressed.

** Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep was made into an excellent movie, Blade Runner (with Harrison Ford and a very young unknown Daryl Hanna). One of the very few cases in history, where the movie was superior to the original novel. :)
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Sorcery

Postby black bart on Wed May 10, 2006 9:57 am

I've not read BNW but I have read another book by Huxley - 'The Devils of Loudun'. It was made into a film by Ken Russel which was probably about as subtle as the film 'The Vampire Lovers' which Hammer based on the brilliant Carmilla by J Sheridan le Fanu. Devils is the true story of Urbain de Grandier a priest who was burned at the stake for aledged sorcery at the town of Loudun in France - it involves possessed nuns, torture and the Duke de Richlieu - a damn good read!
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Re: Brave New World

Postby Joy of Pasta on Wed May 10, 2006 10:32 am

Cannon_Fodder wrote:I've discussed most of these points with my teacher, and she still maintains that the book has a less-than-trash status, which I can't understand. What furthers my disbelief is the fact that another English teacher whom I have spoken to agrees with my trash-status for this book. When I was in her class previously, and had brought up similar objections to the book we were reading then, she still maintained that it was not that bad, as did every other teacher I consulted (similar events occured in the ninth grade). It really seemed to me that speaking against a course book was fairly well sacrilege. To have a teacher actually admit how bad BNW is makes me wonder just how blind to the facts the school board. I ask you, why does my School Board hate children?

-(Rev. Brackets)


Hey Cannon, not that I want to disagree with your comments about BNW, but sometimes ya know teachers are in the business of prodding kids to think, to analyse, to question things and not just memorise and accept. Maybe some of your teachers were testing you to get you simply to examine some of your own suppositions about books? (On the other hand, I know there's lots of authoritarain, conservative teachers out there.)

The Beach has one of the scariest descriptions of underwater swimming I've ever read--frightened me out of the water almost as much as a friend humming the Jaws theme while we were swimming did.

Anyone who lived through 1984 was tired to death of all the notices of the book at that time, but still it's important to understand that kind of power structure. The threat of it hasn't gone away and looms even larger.

I've finished Neuromancer recently by William Gibson. (Yeah, really, there's no flies on me. If there's something new, I'll get to it eventually.) I was awestruck by his utterly original language although the plot didn't strike me as anything much. But oh his vision! This line has stayed with me: "The Moderns were mercenaries, practical jokers, nihilistic technofetishists."
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Postby Cannon_Fodder on Wed May 10, 2006 6:18 pm

I realise that the teachers need to provoke the young students' minds, but I would think that an easier way to do this would be to bring up any actual plot or redeeming features of the book, or challenge my arguments with counter-arguments of their own. This was not happening. Instead, they would say something to the effect of "Oh, it's not that bad" and drop the subject. I don't think that any of them have ever been able to counter my arguments effectively. If they're trying to make me think on my feet (or challenge me), it's not going too well. Of course, I should be glad that they care so much about the subject to actually see plot in such books.

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En Famille

Postby black bart on Thu May 11, 2006 9:45 am

I had to read Guy de Maupassant's Quinze Contes (which sounds rude but it's not) for my French A Level. All of his short stories are majical and I have read them many times since - I particularily like 'En Famille'.

Neuromancer is a facinating book aswell.
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Postby SpisBoy on Thu May 11, 2006 8:53 pm

I hate the fact that English Classes ruins books by making us analyze every aspect of them, instead of just taking in the whole book, enjoying it, pondering it, and appreciating it for the work of art it is.

However, I do see that this wouldn't work. If we didn't have to write essays, then half of the students wouldn't even read the novel...
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Postby alexrose on Thu May 11, 2006 9:03 pm

English classes aren't that bad to books. It's the poems they really love destroying. They ignore that sometimes the poets themselves don't know what it means.

Voltaire is hilarious and I understood only a fraction Candide...
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Postby alexrose on Thu May 11, 2006 9:17 pm

I didn't have to read it for a class, so I was spared from having to write anything about it. I'm not sure what I'd have said.

Never heard of him.
I'm not sure I could read an entire book of poetry...especially in French. I'm definitely impressed.
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