Kaleidoscopic? Yes. Brain-bending? Without question. At the same time, where are we now if not in the world Dick made, a world of social media and virtual reality, screens and simulacra and avatars? Fake news, revisionist histories, internet hoaxes and deepfake videos: Ours is a society defined by its own artifice, which is what Dick was trying to tell us all along.
Charles Schulz’s beloved comic strip invited readers to contemplate the big picture on a small scale.
I’m closer now to 40 than to 17. I no longer read to find friends in literature – I read for the writing. So when I recently read the book for the fourth time, I saw something brand new and I think closer to what Salinger intended: a perfectly written portrait of an imperfect character. Every syllable sings. Much of what I saw in this fourth reading, I had completely missed before.
“Being a black woman writer is not a shallow place but a rich place to write from. It doesn’t limit my imagination; it expands it.”
Brave New World is a dystopian novel by English author Aldous Huxley, written in 1931 and published in 1932. Largely set in a futuristic World State of genetically modified citizens and an intelligence-based social hierarchy, the novel anticipates huge scientific developments in reproductive technology, sleep-learning, psychological manipulation, and classical conditioning, that are combined to make a utopian society that goes challenged only by a single outsider. Huxley followed this book with a reassessment in essay form, Brave New World Revisited (1958), and with his final novel, Island (1962), the utopian counterpart. The novel is often compared to George Orwell‘s Nineteen Eighty-Four (1949).
The novelist drew on far-flung voyages to create his masterpiece. But he could finish it only at his beloved Berkshire farm.
The dystopian best-seller 1984 was published exactly seventy years ago. Its influence has been profound. But does it really speak to today’s politico-cultural environment?
The dystopian best-seller 1984 was published exactly seventy years ago. Its influence has been profound. But does it really speak to today’s politico-cultural environment? Broadcaster Scott Stephens believes Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World is a closer match.
Also, author and New York Times journalist David Itzoff talks us through another prescient piece of fiction, Paddy Chayefsky’s 1976 original screenplay Network.
There are elements of the novel—such as its portrait of the surveillance state, or its portrayal of Newspeak—that seem never to fade from relevance.
Book or show, which will be the “real” ending? It’s a silly question. How many children did Scarlett O’Hara have?
How about this? I’ll write it. You read it. Then everyone can make up their own mind, and argue about it on the internet.
The authorship controversy, almost as old as the works themselves, has yet to surface a compelling alternative to the man buried in Stratford. Perhaps that’s because, until recently, no one was looking in the right place. The case for Emilia Bassano.
In the first of BBC Culture’s new series on fiction that predicted the future, Hephzibah Anderson looks at the work of John Brunner, whose vision of 2010 was eerily accurate.
Here’s a crazy thought. Could it be that whiteness, for David Malouf, is both blindingness and camouflage? That out of temperament, intuition, reflex, survival and ambition, he has suppressed his brownness—as his father suppressed his Arabic—in order to “pass” as white? This sounds preposterous, I know. And I’ll probably get in trouble for it. But the thought, once thought, is hard to unthink.
Part of why both kids and parents love The Very Hungry Caterpillar is because it’s an educational book that doesn’t feel like a capital-E Educational book. Traditionally, children’s literature is a didactic genre: “It teaches something,” Martin says, “but the best children’s books teach without kids knowing that they’re learning something.” In The Very Hungry Caterpillar, she adds, “you learn the days of the week. You learn colors. You learn the fruits. You learn junk-food names. In the end, you learn a little bit about nutrition, too: If you eat a whole bunch of junk food, you’re not going to feel that great.” Yet, crucially, none of the valuable information being presented ever feels “in your face,” Martin says.
Beloved originated as a general question, and was launched by a newspaper clipping. The general question (remember, this was the early eighties) centered on how — other than equal rights, access, pay, etc. — does the women’s movement define the freedom being sought? One principal area of fierce debate was control of one’s own body — an argument that is as rife now as it was then. Many women were convinced that such rights extended to choosing to be a mother, suggesting that not being a mother was not a deficit and choosing motherlessness (for however long) could be added to a list of freedoms; that is, one could choose to live a life free of and from child- bearing and no negative or value judgment need apply.
So, despite the fact that it’s often inaccurate and reductive and possibly immoral, I understand why we like to call novels “Dickensian.” Over 200 years after the writer’s death, we’re just looking to recapture the feeling his canonical works gave us in some of our contemporary literature. If that sounds like something you’re interested in, some suggestions below.
The disorder is poorly understood. Should novelists be able to make it mean whatever they want?
The crux of the issue is that with autism there is often, not metaphorically but literally, a lack of voice, which renders the person a tabula rasa on which a writer can inscribe and project almost anything: Autism is a gift, a curse, super intelligence, mental retardation, mystical, repellent, morally edifying, a parent’s worst nightmare. As a writer, I say go ahead and write what you want. As a parent, I find this terrifying, given the way neurotypical people project false motives and feelings onto the actions of others every day.
I think it’s true there are two types of kids as school. One type probably breezes through school like gazelles across the veldt. For the more troubled types on the edge of the playground, how you get from one day to the next is a mystery. All writers come from the latter, because only if you’re in that group does the working of the human mind become an object of interest.”
All this would give the writer great satisfaction. But though feted and exploited by questionable allies, Solzhenitsyn should be remembered for his role as a truth-teller. He risked his all to drive a stake through the heart of Soviet communism and did more than any other single human being to undermine its credibility and bring the Soviet state to its knees.
The lore around Macksey and his library has an air of myth—some alumni describe knocking over a sheet of paper to discover original correspondence with D.H. Lawrence (who died the year before Macksey was born), while others swear there was an original Picasso sketch in his bathroom at one time. Four-foot Chinese scrolls, tiny model skeletons, antique theater binoculars. The valuable pieces are no longer in the house; they have been locked up in Special Collections on campus. One time during class, I myself picked up the nearest book and discovered it was an inscribed advance copy of his friend Oliver Sacks’ book, Seeing Voices. The objects in his house speak to his interests, which is to say he is interested in everything.