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Brave New World

Duration:
45 minutes
First broadcast:
Thursday 09 April 2009

Melvyn Bragg and guests David Bradshaw, Daniel Pick and Michele Barrett discuss Aldous Huxley's dystopian 1932 novel, Brave New World.

In Act V Scene I of Shakespeare's The Tempest, the character Miranda declares 'O wonder! How many Godly creatures are there here! How beauteous mankind is! O Brave new world! That has such people in it!'. It is perhaps the only line of Shakespeare to be made famous by someone else, for Brave New World is not associated with Prospero's Island of sprites, magic and wondrous noises, but with Aldous Huxley's dystopia of eugenics, soma and zero gravity tennis. A world, incidentally, upon which literary references to Shakespeare would be entirely lost.

Brave New World is a lurid, satirical dystopia in which the hopes and fears of the 1930s are writ large and yet the book seems uncannily prescient about our own time. But why did Huxley feel the need to write it and is Brave New World really as dystopian as we are led to believe?

  • Further Reading

    The Hidden Huxley by David Bradshaw (Faber, 2002)

    Aldous Huxley: The Critical Heritage, ed. Donald Watt (Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1975)

    The Intellectuals and the Masses: Pride and Prejudice Among the Literary Intelligentsia, 1880-1939 by John Carey (Academy Chicago Publishers, 2002)

    In the Name of Eugenics: Genetics and the Uses of Human Heredity by Daniel Kevles (Harvard University Press, 1998)

    The Mismeasure of Man by Stephen Jay Gould (Norton, 1996)

    Faces of Degeneration: A European Disorder, c. 1848-1918 by Daniel Pick (Cambridge University Press, 1993)

    Brave New World Revisited by Aldous Huxley (Harper Perennial Modern Classics, 2006)

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