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"I believe one would write better if the climate were bad."

Just finished Brave New World yesterday. I'll save my final thoughts on the book for my Summer of Classics recap sometime in early September, but for now I'll say that the book was good, but not nearly as good as 1984. Here's one last excerpt. In contrast to Orwell's imagined world, where independent thinkers/heretics are "disappeared" (forcibly removed, killed and erased from the historical record), in Huxley's dystopia such rebels are merely exiled to remote islands, where they are free to pursue their various whims while not corrupting the highly conditioned minds of the complacent masses. In this passage, the Controller is about to banish Helmholtz Watson and Bernard Marx to an island, albeit one of their own choosing:

"It's lucky," (the Controller) added, after a pause, "that there are such a lot of islands in the world. I don't know what we should do without them. Put you all in the lethal chamber, I suppose. By the way, Mr. Watson, would you like a tropical climate? The Marquesas, for example; or Samoa? Or something rather more bracing?"

Helmholtz rose from his pneumatic chair. "I should like a thoroughly bad climate," he answered. "I believe one would write better if the climate were bad. If there were a lot of wind and storms, for example …"

The Controller nodded his approbation. "I like your spirit, Mr. Watson. I like it very much indeed. As much as I officially disapprove of it." He smiled. "What about the Falkland Islands?"

"Yes, I think that will do," Helmholtz answered.

Familiar theme there - that writers need discomfort and dissatisfaction to stimulate their art.

July 22, 2009 in Books | Permalink


Hmmmm. . . I guess I'll have to make your life more difficult in order to spur your creativity.

Posted by: Julie at Jul 22, 2009 12:24:38 PM

Let the browbeating begin!

Posted by: Pete at Jul 22, 2009 4:48:39 PM