Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World – is it any good?

aldous-huxleys-brave-new-worldA SQUAT grey building of only thirty-four stories. Over the main entrance the words, CENTRAL LONDON HATCHERY AND CONDITIONING CENTRE, and, in a shield, the World State’s motto, COMMUNITY, IDENTITY, STABILITY.

The enormous room on the ground floor faced towards the north. Cold for all the summer beyond the panes, for all the tropical heat of the room itself, a harsh thin light glared through the windows, hungrily seeking some draped lay figure, some pallid shape of academic goose-flesh, but finding only the glass and nickel and bleakly shining porcelain of a laboratory. Wintriness responded to wintriness. The overalls of the workers were white, their hands gloved with a pale corpse-coloured rubber. The light was frozen, dead, a ghost. Only from the yellow barrels of the microscopes did it borrow a certain rich and living substance, lying along the polished tubes like butter, streak after luscious streak in long recession down the work tables.

“And this,” said the Director opening the door, “is the Fertilizing Room.”

Bent over their instruments, three hundred Fertilizers were plunged, as the Director of Hatcheries and Conditioning entered the room, in the scarcely breathing silence, the absent-minded, soliloquizing hum or whistle, of absorbed concentration.


Why this is a Good Novel Opening


– When you encounter the first piece of speech it is evidently not the start of the conversation (given away by the conjunction ‘and’ which suggests a pervious statement has been made) consequently making the novel appear much more believable, because it suggests the reader that this world existed before they opened the first page.

– There is a vast amount of new nouns the reader is given e.g. ‘Central London Hatchery and Conditioning Centre.’ Despite the reader understanding the words on a primitive scale and although they may be able to get a gist of what they mean, they don’t truly know.

– Related to the above, the new words allude to a topic that is frowned upon in a way, e.g. conditioning humans? Not a practice that is advertised overtly, which is also intriguing for the reader.

– Contextually this was written between the two world wars where improvements in transport and communication were vastly changing lives causing some people to believe their way of life and even themselves were being threatened. So this dystopian future, reflects the concerns at the time.

– The motto at the very start ‘community, identity, stability’ clearly defines the genre of the novel, suggesting a dystopian future which will engaged readers who are fans of the genre.

– It begins with a quite exciting opening sentence, then in the second paragraph, it tells the reader no specific detail about what the ‘workers’ are working on which makes it quite boring, but then all of a sudden all is explained in the last paragraph so Huxley plays with the readers’ attention which in a way gets the reader hooked.

– The sudden jump from heavy description to speech without introduction of a character is refreshing and as a result keeps the reader engaged.

– Huxley draws up emotions in the reader even in what at face value is a boring piece of description in paragraph 2 thus keeping the reader engaged without their knowing. He makes the ‘laboratory’ appear gloomy by using an array of disconcerting figurative language e.g. referring to the light as ‘frozen, dead, a ghost,’ and as ‘harsh’ and refers the the gloves as ‘corpse-coloured,’ which all inspire quite negative connotations.

– The first, quite small, paragraph is a hook for the reader -as it hints at an alien world quite unlike our own- which is vital to have as it’s the key to getting readers to read on because they want to learn more.

– The opening to ‘Brave New World’ is quite good because Huxley doesn’t confuse the readers, but still gives the readers questions that they want to have answered.

– It gives a flavour of what the novel will be about but doesn’t give too much away, not even who the main character is -which is quite unusual- but this just hooks the reader in more as in asks another question (see point above.)

– Huxley refers to the first character introduced, as ‘Director’ then he gives this character his full name the ‘Director of Hatcheries and Conditioning,’ which indicates to the reader that all will be revealed much like the ‘director’s’ full name if they just read on.


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