How many goodly creatures are there here! How beauteous mankind is! O brave new world! That has such people in't!
William Shakespeare – The Tempest
“Most human beings have an almost infinite capacity for taking things for granted. That men do not learn very much from the lessons of history is the most important of all the lessons of history.”
Aldous Huxley wrote the dystopian novel Brave New World in 1931 at the inauguration of the last Crisis period in America. Dystopia is the often futuristic vision of a society in which conditions of life are miserable and characterized by poverty, oppression, war, violence, disease, pollution, nuclear fallout and/or the abridgement of human rights, resulting in widespread unhappiness, suffering, and other kinds of pain. The novel was his response to the writings of H.G. Wells (Men Like Gods) and George Bernard Shaw which glorified socialism and a one World State. Orwell’s 1984, written in 1948, is the other famous dystopian novel of the era. Huxley had visited America during the Roaring 20’s and his experience provided the character for the novel. He was outraged by America’s out of control materialistic egocentric society. He witnessed youthful superficiality, commercialization, sexual promiscuity, and a self centered culture. Fellow writer G.K. Chesterton explained his view of Huxley’s novel:
“After the Age of Utopias came what we may call the American Age, lasting as long as the Boom. Men like Ford or Mond seemed to many to have solved the social riddle and made capitalism the common good. But it was not native to us; it went with a buoyant, not to say blatant optimism, which is not our negligent or negative optimism. Much more than Victorian righteousness, or even Victorian self-righteousness, that optimism has driven people into pessimism. For the Slump brought even more disillusionment than the War. A new bitterness, and a new bewilderment, ran through all social life, and was reflected in all literature and art. It was contemptuous, not only of the old Capitalism, but of the old Socialism. Brave New World is more of a revolt against Utopia than against Victoria.”
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