Book Review “Island” by Aldous Huxley
BookReview: “Island”by Aldous Huxley
Thenovel "Island" is juxtaposition to his "Brave NewWorld." In the "Island," Huxley tries to air his viewson how the planned or rather prophesied fall of humankind can beprevented. Aldous Huxley portrayed his vision of Utopia by using theexperiences of Will Farnabay who is the protagonist. Pala is anisland where Huxley had noticed a community with intellect, science,and technology, equality, and compassion. Farnabay deliberately ruinshis ship while he was in the Polynesian shores. Polynesian shores arein the Kingdom of Pala. The main aim of Will was to cunningly gainentry into Pala. Farbanay, who was a pretense journalist, had muchinterest in the untapped oil wells in Pala. He had been sent by hisboss, who was an oil tycoon. After the ship`s wreckage, Farbanaygained consciousness but found that he had a leg injury. Besides, hehad the screaming of a myna bird that shouted the word "Attention"repeated. However, he was rescued by two local kids who took him totheir grandfather Dr. Robert MacPhail to get medical treatment. Marytells their grandfather, ‘Well, you see, he was in a boat and therewas that storm yesterday and he got wrecked.’ (Huxley 12).Afterward, Dr. Robert and a young man named Murugan took Will toRobert`s house to have hypnotherapy session that was led by Susila.
Farnabayand Murugan knew each other. They had met in a meeting with ColonelDipa who was a big threat from Rendang-Lobo country that neighboredPala. Rendang-Lobo also had interests in Pala`s oil. Murugan secretlyreveals to Will that he was a son to Rani and was going to assume theoffice soon as the monarchy of Pala. Murugan was highly possessed bymaterialism and consumerist greed because he had been raised outsidethe Palenese culture and was highly westernized. This is contrary tothe philosophies of islanders who have been engaging in deepspiritualism, a peaceful co-existence, and intellectual pursuitswhile avoiding superstitions. Rani, who regularly visited Farnabay,was disgusted by the conventional Palenese values and was in a deepconfrontation on how she could reform the country. As he visitedFarbanay, she says to him, ‘I hope you don’t feel my visit as anintrusion.’ (Huxley 42)
AsFarbanay continues to recover from the Leg injuries, he got a chanceto read Dr. Robert`s copy where he learned about Palanesephilosophies for self-actualization as well as self-improvement. Heis also able to learn more about the education system of Pala.Farbanay discovered that the Palenese were very concerned with therealities of the moment to an extent of training myna birds to say"Attention" as well as "Karuna" as a way ofreminding individuals in Pala to always remain focused andcompassionate. Nevertheless, the Palenese are fully aware of theimpending downfall of Pala Island as a result of invasion by ColonelDipa`s forces from a neighboring country (Rendang). Besides, Will wasan instrumental factor that could have led to the downfall of Pala.
AsFarnaby established a strong bond with Susila, he can re-explore hispainful past. However, Susila is able to guide Will through thepainful memories of the death of his wife. At the same time, Susila`smother-in-law was suffering from cancer and she was almost dying.Meanwhile, Farnaby received a letter from Rani who wanted to meet himbut stands firm against exploitation of oil in Pala by Dipa andAldehyde. Instead of meeting Rani, Will decided to visit Dr. Robert`ssick wife Lakshmi who finally died being surrounded by her family.Later lone Will is invited by Susila to take the Moksha-medicine thatwas to help him abandon his hallucinatory visions as well as realizethe beauty in nature. Finally, a new kingdom is formed betweenRendang and Pala with Murugan being the monarch.
Rightfrom the first chapters of the novel, the word "attention"has been repeated several times and the readers have been madefamiliar with the word. This particular word has a primary religiousmeaning as well as repetitive ideas in the book. The Palenesepracticed Buddhism and Hinduism that kept on reminding them whom theywere and the expected relationship that they were to have with theirsurroundings. In the novel, Ranga the Tantrik nurse who took care ofFarbanay says, "You accept the world and make good use of it.(Huxley 11)" The nurse tried to pass a message that properutilization of the world could change the lives of people.
TheSynthesis of the Western Science and Oriental Spirituality
Dr.Andrew was a symbol of the western science and the founder of Palawhile the Old Raja symbolized the Eastern mysticism. The twoindividuals developed the Modern Pala that had adopted westernscience, but still practiced Oriental religion. The Palanese hadfully adopted the western technology and science. However, theapplication of the technology was limited to the areas of treatmentas well as nutrition. Therefore, Palanese were fully industrialized.Huxley gives a perfect example of how the eastern philosophies andwestern science fused by explaining how the Palanese dealt with boththe slums and overpopulation. As a way of controlling population, thePalanese practiced a mental ritual that was known as "maithuna."Those individuals who were not concerned with the "maithuna"they used contraceptives that were "like education- free, taxsupported, and though not compulsory, as nearly as possible universal(Huxley 11)."
Thecharacter Farnaby, in Island, has been used to represent many peoplein today`s world who have lost awareness of themselves due tosecularization and rationalization. The place of God has beenreplaced by science. Also, money and hard work became an end insteadof a means to pursue other things probably for the future. Accordingto Weber, "The Puritan wanted to work in a calling we wereforced to do so (Huxley 14)."
Huxley,Aldous. Island.New York, NY: HarperPerennial Classics, 2014. Internet resource.
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