A very mediocre book (as literature) - though a quick read -- I read it on the beach in between the belching of seagulls (take that metaphorically, of course). But given my current readings, I thought I should read it nonetheless. Actually, I thought I had read it once and that I had simply forgotten most of the details. But it turns out I forget that I hadn't read it at all.
The only interesting section was the defense of 'happiness' - which is, in fact, quite profound in parts - offered by Mustapha Mond, the Controller -- acting as the Grand Inquisitor -- in chs. 16-17. That the price of 'happiness' is the loss of individuality (Huxley seemed to be thinking of the opening of Anna Karenina) appears quite irrefutable (as presented), and therein (I think) lies the chilling aspect of it. At the end, the Savage, who can escape neither the logic nor the Being of the Spectacle, simply hangs himself.
The most valuable bit in the volume I had, however, was an excerpt from a letter Huxley wrote to Orwell on 21 Oct. 1949 -- defending the superiority of his own conception. Here is the interesting passage:Agreeing with all that the critics have written of it, I need not to tell you, yet once more, how fine and how profoundly important the book is [Orwell's:]. May I speak in stead of the thing with which the book deals -- the ultimate revolution? The first hints of a philosophy of the ultimate revolution -- the revolution which lies beyond politics and economics, and which aims at the total subversion of the individual's psychology and physiology -- are to be found in the Marquis de Sade, who regarded himself as the continuator, the consummator, of Robespierre and Babeuf. The philosophy of the ruling minority in Nineteen Eight-Four is a sadism which has been carried to its logical conclusion by going beyond sex and denying it. Whether in actual fact the policy of the boot-on-the-face can go on indefinitely seems doubtful. My own belief is that the ruling oligarchy will find less arduous and wasteful ways of governing and of satisfying its lust for power, and these ways will resemble those which I described in Brave New World.
Orwell's is the much better book - but Huxley may be right about this. Certainly, that is what Doug Coe is banking on...