Brave New World is an engaging sci-fi novel that focuses on artificial reproduction and its resulting dystopian caste system. When I began Brave New World, I immediately thought of A Wrinkle in Time, which I read a while back and vaguely remember as similarly futuristic and complicated. The book is not straight-forward; it revolves around the perspectives of several citizens subject to the controlled and yet chaotic society that Huxley dares to paint a picture of.
The first aspect of Huxley’s writing that immediately came to my attention was the sudden dark tone within the first few pages (and again throughout the book). For example, Huxley conveys a cold, eerie mood with “hands covered with a corpse-colored rubber,” “the light was frozen, dead, a ghost,” and “scarcely breathing silence.” Now, I know these examples are unrealistic. Some people (like me) might feel the urge to ask, “but HOW is light frozen? How can that be? How can light be dead? Silence doesn’t breathe! What on earth is this author trying to describe?!” But what I have realized is that there is (what I like to call) an art to reading these passages. It’s difficult and unreasonable to peruse each sentence, and in fact I find that trying to strain each word of depth and meaning actually takes away from the experience of enjoying the book. Instead, I have been trying to immerse myself in the general mood of the book by using clues like the tone to guide me through the plot. So I don’t need to know what ghostly light or suffocating silence or define the color of a corpse–I can acknowledge and absorb what the author wants me to without tangling myself in detail. So, for example, I note that Huxley deliberately said “corpse” rather than “body,” signifying that no matter the color, it looked like death. Dark? Check. Ghostly light reminds me of a dark and dusty room with a thin sliver of a window opening barely letting light in. Creepy? Check. Suffocating silence reminds me of some power that even silence, one of the scariest sounds of our world, might be afraid of. Dystopian and mysterious? Check. I have found that finding this balance between barely understanding the text and trying to understand it too much is a principal factor in appreciating and enjoying a book. I’ll write more about Huxley’s conveyance of tone and other devices next time. Can’t wait to check back in later!