Brave New World
Literature and Writing Quotes Page 1
How we cite our quotes:
"You all remember," said the Controller, in his strong deep voice, "you all remember, I suppose, that beautiful and inspired saying of Our Ford's: History is bunk. History," he repeated slowly, "is bunk."
He waved his hand; and it was as though, with an invisible feather wisk, he had brushed away a little dust, and the dust was Harappa, was Ur of the Chaldees; some spider-webs, and they were Thebes and Babylon and Cnossos and Mycenae. Whisk. Whisk – and where was Odysseus, where was Job, where were Jupiter and Gotama and Jesus? Whisk – and those specks of antique dirt called Athens and Rome, Jerusalem and the Middle Kingdom – all were gone. Whisk – the place where Italy had been was empty. Whisk, the cathedrals; whisk, whisk, King Lear and the Thoughts of Pascal. Whisk, Passion; whisk, Requiem; whisk, Symphony; whisk… (3.40-1)
Notice that abstract ideas like "passion" are whisked away along with literature and history. In this novel, literature is a reflection of the range of human emotions – which is exactly what makes it dangerous to a society in which the only feeling permitted is a sort of passive contentedness.
"Accompanied by a campaign against the Past; by the closing of museums, the blowing up of historical monuments (luckily most of them had already been destroyed during the Nine Years' War); by the suppression of all books published before A.F. 15O.''
"There were some things called the pyramids, for example.
"And a man called Shakespeare. You've never heard of them of course." (3.188-92)
It would seem from this and other related passages that history is dangerous to this society because it offers people an alternative. If the citizens aren't even aware of such notions as "freedom" and "truth," they can't miss them. They can't be discontented.
"Oh, as far as they go." Helmholtz shrugged his shoulders. "But they go such a little way. They aren't important enough, somehow. I feel I could do something much more important. Yes, and more intense, more violent. But what? What is there more important to say? And how can one be violent about the sort of things one's expected to write about? Words can be like X-rays, if you use them properly – they'll go through anything. You read and you're pierced. That's one of the things I try to teach my students – how to write piercingly. But what on earth's the good of being pierced by an article about a Community Sing, or the latest improvement in scent organs? Besides, can you make words really piercing – you know, like the very hardest X-rays – when you're writing about that sort of thing? Can you say something about nothing? That's what it finally boils down to. I try and I try…" (4.2.29)
Helmholtz's outlet for his individuality and his sense of human passion is writing. For John, it is Shakespeare. Mustapha, we find out later, once felt the same way about science. Bernard, on the other hand, seems to have no outlet – this may be why he ultimately ends up a weak character.