Aldous Huxley’s novel Brave New World was published in 1932 by Chatto & Windus. Leslie Holland designed this cover for the first edition.
Huxley’s dystopian novel describes a future society in which technological and medical innovations are used by the state to exercise control over its citizens. Brave New World and George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four have often been described as prophetic, anticipating key contemporary concerns such as the ethical limits of state surveillance and biotechnology.
Both Orwell’s and Huxley’s novels are disturbing accounts of future totalitarian societies. Unlike in Nineteen Eighty-Four, however, the government described by Huxley is presented as a ‘benevolent’ regime, whose methods are psychological conditioning and the use of mood-altering drugs rather than torture and constant surveillance. The unified World State of Brave New World has managed to maintain peace, and its citizens are kept artificially happy by means of a drug, ‘soma’, which enables them to block unpleasant emotions. The State’s power over its citizens begins before birth: foetuses are altered to fit into one of the five castes in which the population is divided, and children are raised to remain content with their social position.