4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the best books I have read!
One of the best books I have read is Aldous Huxley's 'Island'. It is a take-off on the utopia theme and not his first one on it, the earlier one being 'The Brave New World'. His 'The Brave New World' was a brilliant trenchant satire, written on the premise that the human race has only two alternatives viz. being either insane or lunatic. 'The Brave New World' was a...
Published on July 5 2004 by Sushil Markandeya
3.0 out of 5 stars Shipwrecked, but still alive
I really didn't enjoy reading this book as much as I had hoped. The whole plot is essentially used as a device for Huxley to give his ideas about what a sustainable society might look like. Although I find Huxley to be a very good writer, this book was a little to authoritarian and condescending for me to enjoy. But, if you have ever read books that highlighted alot of...
Published on Jan 22 2002 by Brendan Kennedy
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the best books I have read!,
Pala is a tiny (fable) island in the Indian Ocean, where it's small community has made the best of western and eastern worlds. The inhabitants are basically Shivaite-Buddhists. They have adopted the western technology but not to the extent that the technology becomes dehumanizing and prevents them being full human beings. They have steered clear of the three pillars of the western prosperity:- armaments, universal debt and planned obsolescence. They have of course their tradition of empathy for all the living beings, their respect for the environment, habitat and the practice of their traditional mind science. The Community believes that God is immanent, man is potentially transcendent. The island's enlightened community have attempted the enormous folly of trying to make a marriage between Hell and Heaven and succeeded at it. They have blended their tradition with western technology in a perfect synthesis. Rather, one of their prime credo is making the best of all the worlds.
The book opens in a dramatic fashion. An English journalist on a secret mission to push the Oil interests of his tycoon boss is regaining consciousness an early morning on the fable island Pala. He had the previous afternoon procured a boat at the neighboring island (a separate country) and planned to sail into the Pala harbor. Unfortunately, he gets caught in a squall. Instead of sailing into the Pala harbor, he is washed ashore the wrong side of the Island with steep hills to be negotiated to reach habitation. Even as he is descending in the failing light of dusk, negotiating the slippery rain washed rocks, he espies snakes (not necessarily venomous) slithering around. Probably finding live snakes around for the first time in his life, he panics, loses hold and falls. Fortunately for him, this fall to the ground is cushioned by an obstructing tree. Still badly bruised, shaken and utterly terrified he loses consciousness. He regains consciousness the next morning with two Palanese urchins - a ten year old girl and a four year old boy- solicitously looking down upon him. The girl sends off the boy to get help. Meanwhile she feeds the famished journalist with bananas. The journalist is still carrying the phantom images of the slithering snakes though they are no more around. How the ten year old successfully administers therapy to the adult journalist to rid of the snakes crawling in his mind is one of the high points of the novel!
One of the other high points in the novel: - the character Lakshmi, in last dying stages of terminal cancer is treated by her relatives. Death is treated as any other incident in life. It is as if Lakshmi's relatives are seeing her off for a long journey she is undertaking. She is helped in every way to live to the very fullest even as she is dying. Huxley had been deeply influenced by the book 'The Tibetan Book of the Dead' so popular in the west during 1920s & 1930s. This particular episode seems to have been inspired by 'The Tibetan Book of the Dead'.
Huxley concludes the book on somewhat tragic but realistic note.
5.0 out of 5 stars Huxley Turns from Pessimism to an Enlightened Possible Future,
This review is from: Island (Paperback)One of the most impressive books that I've ever read (especially on the subject of idealism and human consciousness evolution) was, by Aldous Huxley after he had left his pessimism period and entered his optimism phase. It is titled "Island" and concerns an attempt to establish an island utopian society by marrying science and something akin to Buddhist philosophy. I loved it because it taught yin/yang and helped people accept approaching death by the elderly as a part of the life/death cycle. They also did brilliant things like teach children that they could tell were going to be big and strong that force doesn't make right. They actually systematically taught bully prevention and empathy. We could learn a lesson from this book in combating bullying.
4.0 out of 5 stars Horrible novel, great vision,
This review is from: Island (Paperback)First off, as many people have pointed out, 'Island' is a complete and total failure as a novel. The plot is paper thin and the 'characterization,' such as it is, is pretty horrible. But this doesn't mean this is a bad book, or not worth reading. Hermann Hesse's last (and one of his best) book, "The Glass Bead Game" (aka "Magister Ludi") suffers from the same faults, but likewise is eminently worth reading.
I wouldn't say Huxley succeeds in portraying a true utopia, but then, who ever has? Nowhere in fiction, essay, or political propaganda have I seen anyone else come even remotely close - Huxley at least borders on plausibility, and indeed, desirability (something else lacking from many 'utopian' visions). Many of the negative reviews here are by radical conservatives who find the ideas of more open sexuality, psychedelic visions and a modern updating of Eastern philosophy and contemplation anathema. Well, fair enough, I guess, but look at the world THOSE people are endeavouring (some cynics might say successfully) to build. I for one would definitely have appreciated more rock climbing, first-hand experiential evidence of 'higher things,' even if through psychedelics, and more sensitive sexual experience, during my confused youth. In fact, ultimately, I found my way to all of those things through friends, readings, and my own meandering gropings through life, but I don't feel at all that these were (or are now) encouraged by the social structure in which I live, nor by my elders. Huxley imagines a world in which this situation is reversed, and though I have some problems with his vision, I find it quite charming and desirable in many ways.
Some negative reviews have pointed out how quaint and 1960's-oriented and dated many of the ideas are (to those reviewers anyway); I would argue though that many of the new ideas fermenting in the 60's have really yet to come to full fruition, and far from being dated, are in need of further dissemination.
The book is heavily didactic and this can get a little annoying at times, but as always Huxley is full of insights and is worth reading. From what I understand he wrestled with this book for years trying to find a good way of conveying these notions; maybe he should have just opted for non-fiction of some kind. Still, this book is far from 'obsolete' and Huxley's utopia is very much worth considering for all those of us living in a the real-life, if toned-down, version of 'Brave New World.'
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars People are missing the point,
By A Customer
5.0 out of 5 stars Attention!,Brave New World. "Island" was written much later in Huxley's life and reflects his interest in Eastern philosophies and his concern about the corruption and exploitation that the Third World suffered from both the West and the Communist Bloc.
Huxley hit the nail on the head when he spoke through one of Pala's citizens:
"Armaments, universal debt, and planned obsolescence - those are the three pillars of Western prosperity. If war, waste, and moneylenders were abolished, you'd collapse."
This quote from "Island" is just as damning an indictment of consumerism now as it was when Huxley's novel was published in 1962, if not more so. Huxley was trying to tell us that there is more to life than buying things and being envious of those who have more toys than we do; he was exploring what it really means to be Human. It's a very well-written book that is very easy to lose oneself in, so "Attention!" (read the book and you'll understand that ;) and join Will Farnaby as he explores Pala and, in the process, himself.
5.0 out of 5 stars If I had to go to a deserted island...,
3.0 out of 5 stars Shipwrecked, but still alive,
5.0 out of 5 stars Brave New World is better.....but I liked this more,
Someone else said that Huxley destroys his society in the last chapter - that's often what good books do. BTW, One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest does almost exactly the same thing. I think the destruction of Pala was a warning of what greed is capable of and that not even a land of pure love and kindness is immune to greedy people.
5.0 out of 5 stars i want to live in pala,
the ending of this book is, though, a bit of a travesty. what huxley spends hundreds of pages building gets knocked away in just a chapter. another writer i know of, jean houston, says that she asked huxley about the ending of island and he said he lost the last bit of the manuscript and had to very quickly re-do it.
happens to the best of us i guess. you will like this book, though, if your friends accuse you of being an idealist. funny how 'idealist' is the word used to describe people like huxley, who look around them and despair because of their purely pragmatic knowledge that what we are doing now (as a society and a world) is not working.
2.0 out of 5 stars I think I read a different book than the other reviewers,
Perhaps I didn't enjoy it because the characters lecture, ramble and gloat about concepts of social engineering that are as despicable as those in Brave New World (which is a beautifully written and intricately conceived novel). Perhaps because he anniliates his own utopia, by the hands of one of its founders no less. He proves that a society such as Pala's could not exist, flourish and *survive*. He shows us in the end just how weak and fragile such a socially-engineered society would be and how easily corrupted it could become.
I honestly thought it was a satire of a utopian society, like Brave New World, but attacked from the other extreme. Am I the only one who felt this?
Huxley succeeds at outlining a utopian society; that much is true. Whether he actually believed in the utopia is another question entirely. The writing is so overblown and didactic that I could not discern his intent.
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Island by Aldous Huxley (Paperback - Oct 9 2009)
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