Thursday, January 30, 2014

Brave New World & Baudelaire

After finishing The Book Thief (which is absolutely fantastic), I stopped at the greatest place on earth (B&N) to buy some new books. Even though I have over 27 books lying around waiting to be read, I couldn't stop myself from buying a few more. So what is Miranda reading right now, you ask? Brave New World. I've often heard it referenced, but quite frankly I've never understood what all the hype was about. After reading the introduction I now understand why it's so fascinating to everyone. I haven't begun reading it yet, and I can already envision what it will be about. What struck me most was not the explanation of super-utilitarianism or technologically designed humans, but the reference to ennui. Yes, ennui, a term coined in our most recent subject, Baudelaire's "To The Reader." In Brave New World, it is stated that humans fall prey to this ennui, and I can't help but imagine the disturbing imagery in "To The Reader" that describes the results of boredom.

1 comment:

Ian Kuehne said...

I haven't read Brave New World either, so maybe it's inappropriate for me to comment on it, but it seems like the basic idea is that there is a perfectly planned world in which the protagonist, who reads Shakespeare, eventually finds the limitations unbearable (ennui) and separates himself from the society. This seems uncannily similar to the situation of the Underground Man: he talked about a world in which everything was planned, and how people couldn't be happy in such a place, and he himself is separated from a world he sees as artificial and "not literary"--again, ennui is found in a contrast between reality and books. To throw in a random comparison, I think that Holden Caulfield feels sort of the same way, but he uses the word "phony" to refer to the same sense of inauthenticity. In keeping with the negativity and combativeness of my last few posts, here is the question I'm thinking of: if both Holden Caulfield and Charles Baudelaire feel alienated from the world by ennui and can find only temporary relief and passing authenticity, how is Baudelaire essentially different from Holden Caulfield?