Post Industrial Society A Brave New World



Post Industrial Society: A Brave New World?

Aldous Huxley was born on July 26, 1894 in Surrey, England. He was born to a very scholarly family, most notably his grandfather T.H. Huxley, a well-known biologist and foremost advocate for Darwin’s evolutionary theory. Aldous’ upbringing was shaped by many diverse influences, from his brother Julian, a notable biologist, to his mother’s uncle Matthew Arnold, a well-known English poet and literary critic. This mix of disciplines led to Huxley’s eclectic interests, which ranged from anthropology to zoology and from literature to mysticism. These interests eventually drove Huxley into a pursuit of a medical career as a student at Eton. Soon after he chose this as his life profession, however, Huxley was stricken with keratitis, an eye disease, and went nearly blind, forcing him to rethink his goals. Eventually Huxley would return to school at Balliol College at Oxford to study English Literature and Philology. It was at Oxford Huxley met his lifelong friend, D.H. Lawrence. Lawrence would help encourage the freedom of thought and originality that would characterize Huxley’s future works. Though Huxley took quickly to his studies of literature he always regreted that he could not pursue his dream to be a doctor, and took great interest in the sciences in his spare time. Huxley would later consider his near loss of sight as the best thing that ever happened to him, teaching him the importance of the mundane aspects of life, most notably personal freedoms. It was in this state of forced isolation and restriction due to his near blindness that Huxley was most stimulated to think critically of his surroundings and the everyday actions of normal people. Huxley’s blindness excused him from military service in World War I, though he was very much subject to the emotional effects of the war on
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England. In 1919 Huxley married Maria Nys, a Belgian refugee, and fathered a child, Matthew. Maria would prove to be an invaluable asset to Huxley, typing all of his manuscripts and correspondence. Maria would die in 1955 and Huxley would marry Laurel Archera, a leading concert violinist of the time.
Soon after his first marriage, Huxley began his professional writing career, first with essays and critiques, then with his first collection of poems, Limbo (1920), and his first novel, Crome Yellow (1921). In all, Huxley would go on to author a vast number of novels, essays, poems, short stories, articles, reviews, forwards, introductions, and prefaces ranging in subject from Hinduism (Bhagavad-Gita, the Story of God), to birth control (Birth Control and Catholic Doctrine), to Braille (Studies in Hand-Reading), to art (The Complete Etchings of Goya). These topics show not only the wide range of Huxley’s ideas and interests, but also the concerns he felt compelled to comment on. Throughout Huxley’s life he was obsessed with the need to communicate his ideas and convictions. On November 22, 1963 Huxley died, hours before John F. Kennedy was assassinated.
Huxley’s most read and discussed novel, Brave New World (1932), is very typical of his work, expressing bluntly the concerns and beliefs of its author. Huxley greatly feared the loss of individualism in society at the end of World War I due to a variety of political movements such as the Bolshevik Revolution in Russia, the dictatorship of Mussolini in Italy, and the Nazi Party in Germany. These movements spawned such political forces as Communism, Fascism, and Socialism, each of which
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demand an allegiance to the State above the individual and total allegiance to the doctrines of the regime. Also, with the rise in power of capitalism in America, Huxley saw an enemy of originality and work ethic that threatened the identity of the individual. This rise took place in the form of the Industrial Revolution, where mass production became essential to increased profits. With mass production came corporations, which Huxley believed destroy personal identity by viewing individuals as mere consumers and producers, or simply part of the machine of capitalism. Taking this further, Huxley believes that people then become comfortable as a simple statistic to industry, and lose their sense of responsibility, respect, and inevitably, their very humanity. Brave New World is Huxley’s call to arms against all these horrors of his contemporary world.
In the novel, society has