Brave New World
- Selected Extracts -
The selection of these extracts
aims in highlighting in short some of the most important aspects of the book. Of course reading them, as important as it may be, doesn’t substitute the reading of the whole book.
....By which time the original egg was in a fair
way to becoming anything from eight to ninety-six embryos –
a prodigious improvement, you will agree, on nature. Identical
twins – but not in piddling twos and threes as in the old
viviparous days, when an egg would sometimes accidentally divide; actually by dozens, by scores at a time.
“Scores,” the Director repeated and flung out his arms, as though he were distributing largesse. “Scores.”
But one of the students was fool enough to ask where the advantage lay.
“My good boy!” The Director wheeled sharply round on
him. “Can’t you see? Can’t you see?” He raised a hand; his
expression was solemn. “Bokanovsky’s Process is one of the
major instruments of social stability!”
Major instruments of social stability.
Standard men and women; in uniform batches. The whole
of a small factory staffed with the products of a single
“Ninety-six identical twins working ninety-six identical
machines!” The voice was almost tremulous with enthusiasm.
“You really know where you are. For the first time in history.”
He quoted the planetary motto. “Community, Identity, Stability.”
Grand words. “If we could bokanovskify indefinitely
the whole problem would be solved.”
Solved by standard Gammas, unvarying Deltas, uniform
Epsilons. Millions of identical twins. The principle of mass
production at last applied to biology.
...“Heat conditioning,” said Mr. Foster.
Hot tunnels alternated with cool tunnels. Coolness was
wedded to discomfort in the form of hard X-rays. By the
time they were decanted the embryos had a horror of cold.
They were predestined to emigrate to the tropics, to be miner
and acetate silk spinners and steel workers. Later on their minds
would be made to endorse the judgment of their bodies. “We
condition them to thrive on heat,” concluded Mr. Foster. “Our
colleagues upstairs will teach them to love it.”
“And that,” put in the Director sententiously, “that is the
secret of happiness and virtue – liking what you’ve got to do.
All conditioning aims at that: making people like their
unescapable social destiny.”
...Mr. Foster was left in the Decanting Room. The
D.H.C. and his students stepped into the nearest lift and
were carried up to the fifth floor.
INFANT NURSERIES. NEO-PAVLOVIAN CONDITIONING ROOMS, announced the notice board.
The Director opened a door. They were in a large bare
room, very bright and sunny; for the whole of the southern
wall was a single window. Half a dozen nurses, trousered and
jacketed in the regulation white viscose-linen uniform, their
hair aseptically hidden under white caps, were engaged in
setting out bowls of roses in a long row across the floor. Big
bowls, packed tight with blossom. Thousands of petals, ripeblown
and silkily smooth, like the cheeks of innumerable little
cherubs, but of cherubs, in that bright light, not exclusively pink and Aryan, but also luminously Chinese, also Mexican,
also apoplectic with too much blowing of celestial trumpets,
also pale as death, pale with the posthumous whiteness of
The nurses stiffened to attention as the D.H.C. came in.
“Set out the books,” he said curtly.
In silence the nurses obeyed his command. Between the
rose bowls the books were duly set out – a row of nursery quartos
opened invitingly each at some gaily coloured image of
beast or fish or bird.
“Now bring in the children.”
They hurried out of the room and returned in a minute or
two, each pushing a kind of tall dumb-waiter laden, on all its
four wire-netted shelves, with eight-month-old babies, all
exactly alike (a Bokanovsky Group, it was evident) and all
(since their caste was Delta) dressed in khaki.
“Put them down on the floor.”
The infants were unloaded.
“Now turn them so that they can see the flowers and books.”
Turned, the babies at once fell silent, then began to crawl
towards those clusters of sleek colours, those shapes so gay
and brilliant on the white pages. As they approached, the sun
came out of a momentary eclipse behind a cloud. The roses
flamed up as though with a sudden passion from within; a
new and profound significance seemed to suffuse the shining
pages of the books. From the ranks of the crawling babies
came little squeals of excitement, gurgles and twitterings of
The Director rubbed his hands. “Excellent!” he said. “It
might almost have been done on purpose.”
The swiftest crawlers were already at their goal. Small hands
reached out uncertainly, touched, grasped, unpetaling the
transfigured roses, crumpling the illuminated pages of the
books. The Director waited until all were happily busy. Then,
“Watch carefully,” he said. And, lifting his hand, he gave the
The Head Nurse, who was standing by a switchboard at
the other end of the room, pressed down a little lever.
There was a violent explosion. Shriller and ever shriller, a
siren shrieked. Alarm bells maddeningly sounded.
The children started, screamed; their faces were distorted with terror.
“And now,” the Director shouted (for the noise was deafening),
“now we proceed to rub in the lesson with a mild
He waved his hand again, and the Head Nurse pressed a
second lever. The screaming of the babies suddenly changed
its tone. There was something desperate, almost insane, about
the sharp spasmodic yelps to which they now gave utterance.
Their little bodies twitched and stiffened; their limbs moved
jerkily as if to the tug of unseen wires.
“We can electrify that whole strip of floor,” bawled the
Director in explanation. “But that’s enough,” he signalled to
The explosions ceased, the bells stopped ringing, the shriek
of the siren died down from tone to tone into silence. The
stiffly twitching bodies relaxed, and what had become the
sob and yelp of infant maniacs broadened out once more into
a normal howl of ordinary terror.
“Offer them the flowers and the books again.”
The nurses obeyed; but at the approach of the roses, at
the mere sight of those gaily-coloured images of pussy and
cock-a-doodle-doo and baa-baa black sheep, the infants shrank
away in horror, the volume of their howling suddenly increased.
“Observe,” said the Director triumphantly, “observe.”
Books and loud noises, flowers and electric shocks – already
in the infant mind these couples were compromisingly linked;
and after two hundred repetitions of the same or a similar
lesson would be wedded indissolubly. What man has joined,
nature is powerless to put asunder.
“They’ll grow up with what the psychologists used to call
an ‘instinctive’ hatred of books and flowers. Reflexes unalterably
conditioned. They’ll be safe from books and botany all
their lives.” The Director turned to his nurses. “Take them
Still yelling, the khaki babies were loaded on to their dumbwaiters
and wheeled out, leaving behind them the smell of
sour milk and a most welcome silence.
...“One would think he was going to have his throat cut,”
said the Controller, as the door closed. “Whereas, if he had
the smallest sense, he’d understand that his punishment is
really a reward. He’s being sent to an island. That’s to say, he’s
being sent to a place where he’ll meet the most interesting set
of men and women to be found anywhere in the world. All
the people who, for one reason or another, have got too selfconsciously
individual to fit into community-life. All the
people who aren’t satisfied with orthodoxy, who’ve got independent
ideas of their own. Every one, in a word, who’s any
one. I almost envy you, Mr. Watson.”
Helmholtz laughed. “Then why aren’t you on an island yourself?”
“Because, finally, I preferred this,” the Controller answered. “I was given the choice.”
...“It’s lucky,” he
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.”