Brave New World 6: Is "Brave New World" good art?

1

Brave New World is a book of ideas, and the writing reflects that. The book starts and ends with several chapters that are essentially lectures on the benefits of the Brave New World. The characters are at best simplified if not characatures. None of them has a deep and complex inner life. The book does little to explore the emotions and relationships of the people we meet. The plot of the book is simple and direct, with no great mysteries or revelations. 

As a piece of literature, is this book good art?

Comments

  • 1
    Oh, I think so. It's got some deep questions, well worth asking. it's well crafted with some clever bits in terms of style. The characters *are* simple, though I would argue there's some character to Bernard Marx.

    Interestingly though, the one other Aldous Huxley novel I read was pretty bad and shallow. I can't remember the title.
  • 1

    It's certainly expressive and transformative, so I would agree that it's art. Good art? How do we define what's good in art? You might ask instead, is this a good story? And that's an entirely different thing, and perhaps no, it isn't, but it's much more than a story. Here, the story is the mannequin on which ideas are hung like clothing. But you would never judge clothing by the shape of the mannequin upon which it hangs - well, perhaps, if one were being hasty or feeling judgmental.

  • 1
    I found the writing style to be largely rather dull and pedestrian, so agree with @NeilNjae that the book's main strength is in its ideas. In a few places it became (stylistically) more fluent and compelling... sufficient to make me wonder if the drab style was a kind of mimetic device to instill the idea that the State was drab?

    I would read it again for the exploration of ideas, but on this reread was disappointed by the writing quality.
  • 1

    Not directly related to the question, but... I bought a book of "York Notes on BNW" and reading that criticism of the book was eye-opening. The notes author was a literature academic, and had no time at all for the ideas presented: that was irrelevant to them regarding the book's artistic merit. They were purely interested with the language and the inner lives of the characters. It was refreshing to see such a different perspective.

  • 1

    Could it be surmised, then, that the author of the York Notes, felt the opposite of @RichardAbbott re: the writing style. I mean, one doesn't write a whole book to discuss dull writing, do they? For my part, I was also unmoved by the writing, but I did the audio book, so I don't feel I'm in a good position to judge.

  • 1

    @Apocryphal said:
    Could it be surmised, then, that the author of the York Notes, felt the opposite of @RichardAbbott re: the writing style. I mean, one doesn't write a whole book to discuss dull writing, do they?

    No, the Notes author thought less of the writing than Richard did. But they were being paid to write a book of notes and criticism about Brave New World, and that's what they did.

  • 3
    edited January 8

    It was certainly less entertaining that the last time I read it, age 10 or so. I found it difficult to read through sheer mind-numbing boredom. Slogging through is the appropriate metaphor for my experience. And it is the second book in a row I have read without a sympathetic central character. The book was amazingly sexist - by which I mean offensive even to me, the champion of "this book was written in a very different time" - thus even when compared to those times. I won't even touch on the implicit racism underlying much of the story. The only thing it had were those ideas. That - and the omnipresent and casual sex - were what bouyed me through my first reading, I think in retrospect.

  • 2

    @clash_bowley said:
    It was certainly less entertaining that the last time I read it, age 10 or so. I found it difficult to read through sheer mind-numbing boredom.

    Yes, it was quite didactic in style, and the racism and sexism is ever-present. But then, it's a book that's about how eugenics can make the world a better place. But I must admit, I'd not noticed the -isms either when I first read it, many years ago.

  • 2

    Neither had I!

  • 2
    edited January 8

    Age 10 clash was enthralled by the use of the word 'pneumatic' as a compliment to describe women, and spent much time imagining exactly what was meant by said compliment. :D

    Age 10 clash was such a dick!

  • 1
    The "pneumatic" business really did make me wince on this read.
  • 1

    @dr_mitch said:
    The "pneumatic" business really did make me wince on this read.

    Yup!

  • 1
    I suppose, being charitable, that Huxley might have meant for the society to have thought and spoken like this, without him personally holding such a view.
  • 1
    edited January 8

    I am sure you will get your reward in heaven... :D

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