Island

Island

by Aldous Huxley

Inevitably, this island of bliss attracts the envy and enmity of the surrounding world.

A conspiracy is underway to take over Pala, and events begin to move when an agent of the conspirators, a newspaperman named Faranby, is shipwrecked there.

  • Language: English
  • Category: Fiction
  • Rating: 3.85
  • Pages: 354
  • Publish Date: July 30th 2002 by Harper Perennial Classics
  • Isbn10: 0060085495
  • Isbn13: 9780060085490

Read the Book "Island" Online

The only reason I slugged through it was out of respect for Huxley and for the occasional snippets of philosophical wisdom I discovered along the way. The main problem I have with "Island" is its complete departure from the novel form. If anything, the best part of the book is when the main character, Will Barnaby, takes the "moksha-medicine" and goes into a psychedelic trance. And one more thing Beatles fans: There is a "Dr. Robert" in the book who is one of the main characters.

I bet just about every review of this book starts with a sentence along the lines of I am reading this because I read Brave New World . I have seen many say it is considered the flip-side novel of the dystopian society presented in Brave New World. Island, however, is much more textbook in fact, each scene has a different utopian ideal discussed with almost bullet point precision.

This "sci-fi" (Huxley couple were not happy that this work was considered a science fiction) utopian novel is a vehicle to deliver what Huxley believed to be The answer to one of the most critical questions of our existence - we know the present value systems are fucked up but what is the alternative? The systems suggested are ingenious as such (even while they are derivative) and thought provoking, if the book is an initiation to the alternate world-views presented here (and the book did serve as an introduction for much of the western audience at that time). The book was a dying man's earnest attempt to show the troubled world what he thought was a glimmer of hope.

Most of the book consists of one character, Will Farnaby, shipwrecked on the island paradise of Pala, having conversations with other 'characters' who to all intents and purposes could almost all have been the same person, about half of the book Farnaby, who, with apologies for the technical details, seems to have busted his knee in the course of arriving on the Island, is having these conversations while laying on a hospital bed while various people come and see him. Indeed Farnaby is meant to be of the conspiracy to end the Island's independence but naturally over the course of numerous conversations with the islanders he is converted, cured of the problems related to his 20th heritage and upbringing...however the clock is ticking. I think that is the interesting part of it, Aldous Huxley at age of writing Brave New World plus time and experience equals Island, can also be expressed as the hopes and fears of the 1920s and 30s that we see in We, Brave New World, and eventually in 1984 are not the hopes and fears of the 1950s and 60s which we see expressed in Island, and it struck me that Huxley's holistic vision in this book combining popular culture, ecology, education, a humane economy rather than homo economicus, health and spirituality is still contemporary if not so far mainstream(view spoiler) Farnaby discusses medicine with his nurse: "So you think our medicine's pretty primitive?" ..."It's fifty percent terrific and fifty percent non-existent.

This book is like a savory meal that is extremely good for you. Hardin's 'Tragedy of the Commons' comes to mind, or more a massive extension on its logic in a world where there's a country that fully accepts it. I can't see any reason to dim the brilliance of this book in order to acknowledge its imperfections. Perhaps it's a bit much to apply it to book reviews. But hey, I love this book.

The book is basically just an essay on politics, science, philosophy, religion, society, man, and ultimately, Utopia, masked as a novel.

After the release of the acclaimed dystopia known as Brave New World, Huxleys name became forever imprinted into the respectable hall of fame of science fiction writing, which might have hindered his prospects into finding other ways to convey his own opinions. In Island, the reader is overcome with the feeling that he might have been coerced into masquerading the books message as a novel.

However, it was one of those books that struck me like lightning and forever change the way I frame the world and our society.So a re-read Island is an active dialogue between relatively few characters who bring Huxleys Perennial Philosophy to a narrative form. In one scene the children of Pala are actively moving scarecrows to protect their crops.

Best known for his novels and wide-ranging output of essays, he also published short stories, poetry, travel writing, and film stories and scripts.