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In his final novel, which he considered his most important, Aldous Huxley transports us to the remote Pacific island of Pala, where an ideal society has flourished for 120 years.

Inevitably, this island of bliss attracts the envy and enmity of the surrounding world. A conspiracy is underway to take over Pala, and events are set in motion when an agent of the conspirators, a newspaperman named Faranby, is shipwrecked there. What Faranby doesn't expect is how his time with the people of Pala will revolutionize all his values and—to his amazement—give him hope.

Topics: Utopia, Dystopia, Politics, Democracy, Spirituality , Shipwreck, Love, Adventurous, Futuristic, Philosophical, Modernism, Existentialism, Island, Beach, South Pacific, and Speculative Fiction

Published: HarperCollins on
ISBN: 9780061959646
List price: $10.99
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I liked the descriptions and details.more
This is less of a novel, and more of an expanded philosophical treatise on Huxley's version of a utopia.

The society of the island Pala is the inverse of, and parallel to, the society of Brave New World. Instead of a rudimentary caste system, jobs are assigned from personal interest and capability. Education is communal, in order to prevent passing of parental neuroses or flaws and ease socialization. The emphasis of sex is not solely to have a lot of it, but to enjoy it and make an experience out of it. Lots of ideas are derived from Eastern philosophy.

Such a society does not shun all technology, however. Refrigeration and hydroelectricity are essential to keep the basic necessities of society going, as well as modern medicine. However, the overproduction of consumer goods is limited, so as to prevent outside invasion but also conspicuous consumption. Genetic modification and contraception are common, but to pass on good qualities instead of enforcing superiority or inferiority.

Most notably, instead of soma being used to make the populace dumb and happy, they are used as a means of personal growth and experimentation. The most common drug is named moshka, derived from a mushroom and somewhat analogous to psilocybin or mescaline.

Compassion and faith seem to be the cornerstones of this society, not ideology or advancement.

Island's influence is very clear as an archetype of psychedelic drug fiction. However, it refrains from the sheer unbounded optimism which these thought experiments entail. At the end of the novel, the island is seized in a coup backed by dictatorial and corporate interests, and the fate of the islanders is uncertain. Huxley knows only too well what happens to the people of loving-happiness, eternal compassion and attention compared to the advance of the Other.more
I quite enjoyed this book. Written in the early 1960s, Huxley has a great grasp of our modern idea of mindfulness. Birds remind Pala's inhabitants to pay "Attention" to the "Here and Now." Instead of saying grace at meals, everyone takes an initial mindful bite, chewing very slowly until the food has disintegrated in their mouths. Mindful meditation techniques are used in healing the ill and in intimate relationships. Great description of a conscious and aware education system.more
This reminds me a lot of Brave New World: oh let's explain our society to this stranger + yay hallucinogenic drugs + yay population control, only with even less actual plot (which surprised me, since this was published much later than BNW). Also the society is a lot less dystopian, which for me made it a little less gripping. It was an interesting and relaxing read, though.more
I have to admit that I didn't find this novel as transformative as some readers did, but I'm quite glad to have read it. Truthfully, it's not much of a story, but it sure will give you food for thought and I expect Huxley's ideas will stick with me for a long, long time. The protagonist of Island is British journalist Will Farnaby. Will isn't an entirely likeable character as the novel opens--as is so often the case in these tales of redemption. In an attempt to escape his troubles, or possibly to escape himself, Will takes a day off from a Southeast Asian business trip to go sailing. A sudden storm sweeps in, and in the novel's opening pages Will realizes he's shipwrecked and injured. Luckily, Will has washed up on the exotic and little-visited island of Pala. This island-nation is a modern (or the 1960s version of it) Utopia. Will is discovered by some children who promptly go for help. It arrives in the form of Dr. Robert MacPhail, one of the island's most respected citizens. Dr. Robert patches Will up, and he and other islanders indulge Will's curiosity about their home. Over the course of just a few days, they introduce Will to every aspect of their most extraordinary society. From family life, medicine, education, and rites of passage, Will learns about Palanese life from birth to death. He meets many islanders, including the future Raja who is about to come of age, and his mother, the Rani. These two members of the ruling class have some very different ideas about how things should be on Pala. And their agenda may just tie in with a secret agenda of Will's own... It is this loose storyline that the plot consists of, but it's actually a very minor part of the novel--just a thread that runs through a lot of philosophy and sociology. Personally, I had a very limited interest in and tolerance for a lot of Eastern religious (mostly Buddhist) philosophy. But I really loved the sociological ideas Huxley put forth in his Utopia. Really, really interesting stuff! For another reader, it might be the reverse. One way or another, I really have to believe the novel would be of interest to any thinking person.more
Huxley's last novel, 'Island', is something that I wouldn't have read except for a chance recommendation. It's also something that probably wouldn't have resonated with me, if I had read it years ago. But now I find it fascinating on multiple levels, and it addresses a number of highly relevant issues of today. It's not so much a compelling narrative as it is a series of essays couched as a novel, but I found it interesting and recommend it highly.more
Compared to his other books, that I have read, this one seems somewhat trashy for lack of a better word, however well written it may seem next to more obviously trashy books. In some of his novels he slips in his philosophical and moral ideas subtly, with no detrimental effect to the book, yet here he pays complete disregard to elegance and tact, drenching the reader with his misplaced utopian idealising, while forgetting to to put in a story to support the fact that there is nothing else to keep the discerning reader interested. I wouldn't go as far as to say this is a terrible book, just that Huxley has done himself no credit by writing it. Not all of his notions here are wrong, (a few are very good), just the majority; this book feels self indulged, as if it was written by a child who has just found a novel toy, which is in this case Eastern religion, along with all the philosophy and ethics, or lack thereof, that it drags along with it. I don't mind reading Huxley's other books that lack plots because they make up for it in style and content, whereas here all three are either absent or insufficient. If you are determined to read this book, being a Huxley fan, or someone who thinks that they may enjoy it, I advise a large pinch of salt to be taken before reading each chapter; this was the last novel he wrote, and I don't think it would be unfair to suggest that his imagination may have overtaken his intellect in its influence on his writing. It would be far too easy to be duped by ideas in this book because it is so nicely written, aesthetically stimulating, and penned with expert sophistry; this does make it nice to read, though it is only superficially rewarding once one notices that it is only well polished wishy-washy psuedo-religion and nonsense. If you take the book at face value, as a description of an interpretation of the Utopian society then you may find it interesting. If you expect the interpretation to be accurate or well thought out, then you should be disappointed.more
shame this is so awful being that it's his last book. just trying way too hard to be modern. I don't know, I need to re-visit it.more
Read all 13 reviews

Reviews

I liked the descriptions and details.more
This is less of a novel, and more of an expanded philosophical treatise on Huxley's version of a utopia.

The society of the island Pala is the inverse of, and parallel to, the society of Brave New World. Instead of a rudimentary caste system, jobs are assigned from personal interest and capability. Education is communal, in order to prevent passing of parental neuroses or flaws and ease socialization. The emphasis of sex is not solely to have a lot of it, but to enjoy it and make an experience out of it. Lots of ideas are derived from Eastern philosophy.

Such a society does not shun all technology, however. Refrigeration and hydroelectricity are essential to keep the basic necessities of society going, as well as modern medicine. However, the overproduction of consumer goods is limited, so as to prevent outside invasion but also conspicuous consumption. Genetic modification and contraception are common, but to pass on good qualities instead of enforcing superiority or inferiority.

Most notably, instead of soma being used to make the populace dumb and happy, they are used as a means of personal growth and experimentation. The most common drug is named moshka, derived from a mushroom and somewhat analogous to psilocybin or mescaline.

Compassion and faith seem to be the cornerstones of this society, not ideology or advancement.

Island's influence is very clear as an archetype of psychedelic drug fiction. However, it refrains from the sheer unbounded optimism which these thought experiments entail. At the end of the novel, the island is seized in a coup backed by dictatorial and corporate interests, and the fate of the islanders is uncertain. Huxley knows only too well what happens to the people of loving-happiness, eternal compassion and attention compared to the advance of the Other.more
I quite enjoyed this book. Written in the early 1960s, Huxley has a great grasp of our modern idea of mindfulness. Birds remind Pala's inhabitants to pay "Attention" to the "Here and Now." Instead of saying grace at meals, everyone takes an initial mindful bite, chewing very slowly until the food has disintegrated in their mouths. Mindful meditation techniques are used in healing the ill and in intimate relationships. Great description of a conscious and aware education system.more
This reminds me a lot of Brave New World: oh let's explain our society to this stranger + yay hallucinogenic drugs + yay population control, only with even less actual plot (which surprised me, since this was published much later than BNW). Also the society is a lot less dystopian, which for me made it a little less gripping. It was an interesting and relaxing read, though.more
I have to admit that I didn't find this novel as transformative as some readers did, but I'm quite glad to have read it. Truthfully, it's not much of a story, but it sure will give you food for thought and I expect Huxley's ideas will stick with me for a long, long time. The protagonist of Island is British journalist Will Farnaby. Will isn't an entirely likeable character as the novel opens--as is so often the case in these tales of redemption. In an attempt to escape his troubles, or possibly to escape himself, Will takes a day off from a Southeast Asian business trip to go sailing. A sudden storm sweeps in, and in the novel's opening pages Will realizes he's shipwrecked and injured. Luckily, Will has washed up on the exotic and little-visited island of Pala. This island-nation is a modern (or the 1960s version of it) Utopia. Will is discovered by some children who promptly go for help. It arrives in the form of Dr. Robert MacPhail, one of the island's most respected citizens. Dr. Robert patches Will up, and he and other islanders indulge Will's curiosity about their home. Over the course of just a few days, they introduce Will to every aspect of their most extraordinary society. From family life, medicine, education, and rites of passage, Will learns about Palanese life from birth to death. He meets many islanders, including the future Raja who is about to come of age, and his mother, the Rani. These two members of the ruling class have some very different ideas about how things should be on Pala. And their agenda may just tie in with a secret agenda of Will's own... It is this loose storyline that the plot consists of, but it's actually a very minor part of the novel--just a thread that runs through a lot of philosophy and sociology. Personally, I had a very limited interest in and tolerance for a lot of Eastern religious (mostly Buddhist) philosophy. But I really loved the sociological ideas Huxley put forth in his Utopia. Really, really interesting stuff! For another reader, it might be the reverse. One way or another, I really have to believe the novel would be of interest to any thinking person.more
Huxley's last novel, 'Island', is something that I wouldn't have read except for a chance recommendation. It's also something that probably wouldn't have resonated with me, if I had read it years ago. But now I find it fascinating on multiple levels, and it addresses a number of highly relevant issues of today. It's not so much a compelling narrative as it is a series of essays couched as a novel, but I found it interesting and recommend it highly.more
Compared to his other books, that I have read, this one seems somewhat trashy for lack of a better word, however well written it may seem next to more obviously trashy books. In some of his novels he slips in his philosophical and moral ideas subtly, with no detrimental effect to the book, yet here he pays complete disregard to elegance and tact, drenching the reader with his misplaced utopian idealising, while forgetting to to put in a story to support the fact that there is nothing else to keep the discerning reader interested. I wouldn't go as far as to say this is a terrible book, just that Huxley has done himself no credit by writing it. Not all of his notions here are wrong, (a few are very good), just the majority; this book feels self indulged, as if it was written by a child who has just found a novel toy, which is in this case Eastern religion, along with all the philosophy and ethics, or lack thereof, that it drags along with it. I don't mind reading Huxley's other books that lack plots because they make up for it in style and content, whereas here all three are either absent or insufficient. If you are determined to read this book, being a Huxley fan, or someone who thinks that they may enjoy it, I advise a large pinch of salt to be taken before reading each chapter; this was the last novel he wrote, and I don't think it would be unfair to suggest that his imagination may have overtaken his intellect in its influence on his writing. It would be far too easy to be duped by ideas in this book because it is so nicely written, aesthetically stimulating, and penned with expert sophistry; this does make it nice to read, though it is only superficially rewarding once one notices that it is only well polished wishy-washy psuedo-religion and nonsense. If you take the book at face value, as a description of an interpretation of the Utopian society then you may find it interesting. If you expect the interpretation to be accurate or well thought out, then you should be disappointed.more
shame this is so awful being that it's his last book. just trying way too hard to be modern. I don't know, I need to re-visit it.more
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