22nd November 1963, Aldous Huxley, Banned Books, Brave New World, C.S.Lewis, Charlie Chaplin, Fordism, Henry Ford, History, Hitler, India, Kennedy Assassination, LSD, Lysergic acid diethylamide, Mussolini, Pornographic, Soviet Union
‘Brave New World’ by Aldous Huxley is a book that has been banned more than once since it was first published in 1932.
Firstly it was banned in Ireland for being Anti Religion and Anti Family. The same charges of public decency saw it removed from shelves in Maryland schools in 1965 and from schools in Miller Missouri in 1980. In 1967 India banned it merely for being pornographic. However in 1993 an attempt to have it removed from the California School Reading list was blocked.
The charge of being anti religion is at best spurious. It is subject to interpretation. The civilized characters in the book do not practice christianity whereas the savages do. However one of the main themes of the book is who are the real savages?
The religion of choice for the alphas is Fordism. The veneration of the great Ford. Henry Ford to you and me. Chosen because he is the father of the modern world and perhaps because he was a bit of a fascist. In 1932 Hitler was still a nut in a uniform shouting to people Munich, Mussolini was an ally against the Soviet Threat, Ford was the bogyman du jour just four years later Charlie Chaplin would target him in ‘Modern Times’.
The charge of being anti family is again open to interpretation. While the majority of the books characters are bread by synthetic means and encouraged to have many and varied sexual partners the savages have traditional family groups. One aspect that is seldom mentioned is that women are encouraged to have regular chemically induced pregnancy cycles to get rid of any broodiness.
The charge of being pornographic is by todays standards not one that would hold water. Even compared with what goes on in Bollywood movies ‘Brave New World’ is tame. In fact more is left up the readers imagination than actually described. Perhaps it reflects more on the reader than the writer.
The 1993 case claimed the book “centered around negative activity”. Indeed it does however it does not promote them. Huxley wrote the book as a vision of the future that he envisioned. A follow up essay in 1959 he concluded that we are moving toward that society faster than he had thought in 1932.
The book does foreshadow many things that have come to pass. Reading the book today it is easy to forget just how old it is. It shares many themes with much later works of Science Fiction and established both themes and concepts that we take for granted today.
Huxley himself died of an overdose of lysergic acid diethylamide. The LSD had been prescribed to help deal with the pain of the laryngeal cancer from which he suffered for the last three years of his life. His death occurred on the same day as that of C.S.Lewis.
However neither Huxley or Lewis’ deaths were much reported, too minor and trivial for that day of history. When for many people the world took another step towards Huxley’s vision of ‘Brave New World’. Huxley and Lewis died on the 22nd of November 1963 hours before Lee Harvey Oswald from the window of a school book depository in Dallas Texas assassinated President John F. Kennedy.