What is Aldous Huxley's style in Brave New World?
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Brave New World, by Aldous Huxley, is one of the original Dystopian novels, written in 1931 and preceding George Orwell's 1984 by almost eighteen years. It was very successful and influenced most of the Dystopian fiction following it.
Huxley, being a very educated man, used his knowledge of science and history to inform his book. The opening lines show the style that continues throughout:
A 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.
(Huxley, Brave New World, huxley.net)
The first line is a cold open, directing the reader's attention to the "squat grey building" and immediately showing the existence of a World State. The following paragraph is full of simile and metaphor: "The light was frozen, dead, a ghost;" showing the emotionless nature of the birthing center. Despite the heat of the room, everything seems cold, because it lacks human soul. Gloves worn by the workers are "pale corpse-coloured," being the tools of simple labor instead of nurture. The microscopes, being designed to seek cellular life, have some small amount of humanity to them; the light "[lies] along the polished tubes like butter," butter being associated with a "rich and living substance." Huxley continues this use of metaphor, allowing the reader to connect with the strange future world through familiar ideas.
Huxley was not writing for academia or for literary acclaim, but his work is far more literary than some following. The title of the book is taken from Shakespeare and most of the writing is straightforward, telling events as they happen from a third-person perspective, typical of the era. Huxley's public sanctification of historical figures -- Henry Ford as a god -- was echoed forty years later in Ira Levin's Dystopian novel This Perfect Day.
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