'The Savage nodded, frowning. "You got rid of them. Yes, that's just like you. Getting rid of everything unpleasant instead of learning to put up with it. Whether 'tis better in the mind to suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune, or to take arms against a sea of troubles and by opposing end them… But you don't do either. Neither suffer nor oppose. You just abolish the slings and arrows. It's too easy."'
Another slow month, and the first of my five classic books. I hit a slightly rough start with this one as there were a number of introductory essays both by an academic and then by Huxley also. I think I should have avoided these and read them afterwards, as it gave me a particular perspective on the novel that probably framed my reading of it. It also meant that I had passed a good few days of commuting reading the book without actually starting the novel so it felt quite slow going to begin with.
Once I got properly into the story it was a compelling read, and from the point at which the population of savages was introduced it became a particularly thought-provoking exploration on the nature of civilisation. I loved the references to Shakespeare written into the text, and somehow thinking of the setting and context of his plays heightened the contrast with the modern world presented by Huxley.
It wasn't a pleasant read, and as with many dystopian novels, it's power came from the fact that it didn't seem to be an entirely implausible vision of a not too distant future. It was interesting to see, though, that while many elements of the world Huxley described felt recognisable, at the time of writing, the incredible advance of mobile and computerised technology was not foreseen, and they are notable by their absence in the world he has constructed.
The progression of the plot was not surprising but still managed to remain engaging. I felt like I wanted to know more about what happened after the point at which the novel ended, but in some ways the impression it leaves is embodied by how you continue to wonder about the world beyond the final page.
For this month I will be reading The Girl Who Just Appeared by Johnathan Harvey, which is a find from the unread pile on the bookshelf that sounded appealing.
Linking up with Laura's The Year in Books project.