Huxley’s initial vision for Brave New World (1931) was, as he put it, “having a little fun pulling the leg of H. G. Wells,” but soon his exploration became something a little more insidious. Set in a seemingly sunny and plentiful world, his stark considerations warned of the loss of humanity and identity when a future concerns itself with skewed ethics in pursuit of a sterile ‘happiness’. Huxley’s revolt against utopia-led fiction was globally acclaimed, and still rings startlingly true even now.
Far darker in atmosphere, to the backdrop of bleak austerity, George Orwell’s nightmarish vision was published in 1949, presenting a world doomed to a systematic scrutiny and abrupt removal of individualism, down to one’s own thoughts. An even-less-subtle cautionary tale, its cultural impact can be witnessed throughout media the world over – Room 101, Big Brother and even the suffix ‘-speak’ are all echoes of the work.
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The connection between the two authors runs beyond the subjects of their novels. Huxley was in fact – albeit briefly – Orwell’s teacher at Eton. While the latter generally remembered his French tutor as an incompetent individual, he was nonetheless impressed by his use of words.