So You’ve Read Orwell’s 1984…But This Dark, Prophetic Novel Is Just As Important

Aldous Huxley's Brave New World should also be on the reading list of every school in the western world...but we won't hold our breath

By now, most of us might have been curious enough to track down a copy of George Orwell’s classic dystopian novel, 1984, to see what all the fuss is about. Many words and phrases coined by Orwell (real name Eric Blair) are now part of our everyday vocabulary; Big Brother as a description of the surveillance state we are now under being the best-known of all.

Orwell wrote this visionary masterpiece in 1948 as a warning to humanity of what would happen if the powers of fascism were not defeated. Fighting right-wing ideology was close to Orwell’s heart, having put his life on the line to fight as a volunteer against Franco during the Spanish civil war.

Another great literary genius who made uncanny prophecies about the modern world is Aldous Huxley, author of Brave New World. While Orwell focuses on civil liberties, endless wars against a faceless enemy, and an authoritarian government spying on its citizens, Huxley’s novel (published in 1932) focuses on drugs, family and science (but like Orwell, Huxley also predicted that the world would be run by a small elite group of psychopaths).

In Huxley’s vision, families no longer exist. Children are manufactured through IVF, and are raised to be completely disinterested in books and nature, thereby making sure they never forget their place as future workers. Shakespeare is banned, consumerism is rife, everyone takes a drug called Soma (prozac) to be happy, and individualism is punished. Children are sexualized, the class system is strict and inflexible, and only the ignorant are blissfully content. ‘Savages’ (indigenous people) are kept away from society in reservations, and sex is frowned upon.

Any of that sound familiar? The above video is a short summary of this must-read novel. Put it on your holiday reading list, listen to the audio book here, or watch a full BBC interpretation of the book here. The image below compares the two classics: we recommend reading both, and passing them on!

Click to enlarge.

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