Island (P.S. Series)

Island (P.S. Series)

by Aldous Huxley


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The final novel from Aldous Huxley, Island is a provocative counterpoint to his worldwide classic Brave New World, in which a flourishing, ideal society located on a remote Pacific island attracts the envy of the outside world.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780061561795
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date: 10/20/2009
Series: P.S. Series
Pages: 354
Sales rank: 104,284
Product dimensions: 5.30(w) x 7.90(h) x 1.00(d)

About the Author

Aldous Huxley (1894–1963) is the author of the classic novels Brave New World, Island, Eyeless in Gaza, and The Genius and the Goddess, as well as such critically acclaimed nonfiction works as The Perennial Philosophy and The Doors of Perception. Born in Surrey, England, and educated at Oxford, he died in Los Angeles, California.

Read an Excerpt


Chapter One

"Attention," a voice began to call, and it was as though an oboe had suddenly become articulate. "Attention," it repeated in the same high, nasal monotone. "Attention."

Lying there like a corpse in the dead leaves, his hair matted, his face grotesquely smudged and bruised, his clothes in rags and muddy, Will Farnaby awoke with a start. Molly had called him. Time to get up. Time to get dressed. Mustn't be late at the office.

"Thank you, darling," be said and sat up. A sharp pain stabbed at his right knee and there were other kinds of pain in his back, his arms, his forehead.

"Attention," the voice insisted without the slightest change of tone. Leaning on one elbow, Will looked about him and saw with bewilderment, not the gray wallpaper and yellow curtains of his London bedroom, but a glade among trees and the long shadows and slanting lights of early morning in a forest.


Why did she say, "Attention"?

"Attention. Attention," the voice insisted—how strangely, how senselessly!

"Molly?" he questioned, "Molly?"

The name seemed to open a window inside his head. Suddenly, with that horribly familiar sense of guilt at the pit of the stomach, he smelt formaldehyde, he saw the small brisk nurse hurrying ahead of him along the green corridor, heard the dry creaking of her starched clothes. "Number fifty-five," she was saying, and then halted, opened a white door. He entered and there, on a high white bed, was Molly. Molly with bandages covering half her face and the mouth hanging cavernously open. "Molly," he had called, Molly . . ." His voice had broken, and he was crying, was imploring now, "My darling!" There was no answer. Through the gaping mouth the quick shallow breaths came noisily, again, again. "My darling, my darling . . ." And then suddenly the hand he was holding came to life for a moment. Then was still again.

"It's me," he said, "it's Will."

Once more the fingers stirred. Slowly, with what was evidently an enormous effort, they closed themselves over his own, pressed them for a moment and then relaxed again into lifelessness.

"Attention," called the inhuman voice. "Attention,"

It had been an accident, be hastened to assure himself. The road was wet, the car had skidded across the white line. It was one of those things that happen all the time. The papers are full of them; he had reported them by the dozen. "Mother and three children killed in head-on crash . . ." But that was beside the point, The point was that, when she asked him if it was really the end, he had said yes; the point was that less than an hour after she had walked out from that last shameful interview into the rain, Molly was in the ambulance, dying.

He hadn't looked at her as she turned to go, hadn't dared to look at her. Another glimpse of that pale suffering face might have been too much for him. She had risen from her chair and was moving slowly across the room, moving slowly out of his life. Shouldn't he call her back, ask her forgiveness, tell her that he still loved her? Had he ever loved her?

For the hundredth time the articulate oboe called him to attention.

Yes, had he ever really loved her?

"Good-bye, Will," came her remembered whisper as she turned back on the threshold. And then it was she who had said it — in a whisper, from the depths of her heart. "I still love you, Will — in spite of everything."

A moment later the door of the flat closed behind her almost without a sound. The little dry click of the latch, and she was gone.

He had jumped up, had run to the front door and opened it, had listened to the retreating footsteps on the stairs. Like a ghost at cockcrow, a faint familiar perfume lingered vanishingly on the air. He closed the door again, walked into his gray-and-yellow bedroom and looked out the window. A few seconds passed, then he saw her crossing the pavement and getting into the car. He heard the shrill grinding of the starter, once, twice, and after that the drumming of the motor. Should he open the window? "Wait, Molly, wait," he heard himself shouting in imagination. The window remained unopened; the car began to move, turned the comer and the street was empty. It was too late. Too late, thank God! said a gross derisive voice. Yes, thank God! And yet the guilt was there at the pit of his stomach. The guilt, the gnawing of his remorse — but through the remorse he could feel a horrible rejoicing. Somebody low and lewd and brutal, somebody alien and odious who was yet himself was gleefully thinking that now there was nothing to prevent him from having what he wanted. And what he wanted was a different perfume, was the warmth and resilience of a younger body. "Attention," said the oboe. Yes, attention. Attention to Babs's musky bedroom, with its strawberry-pink alcove and the two windows that looked onto the Charing Cross Road and were looked into, all night long, by the winking glare of the big sky sign for Porter's Gin on the opposite side of the street. Gin in royal crimson — and for ten seconds the alcove was the Sacred Heart, for ten miraculous seconds the flushed face so close to his own glowed like a seraph's, transfigured as though by an inner fire of love. Then came the yet profounder transfiguration of darkness. One, two, three, four ... Ah God, make it go on forever! But punctually at the count of ten the electric clock would turn on another revelation — but of death, of the Essential Horror; for the lights, this time, were green, and for ten hideous seconds Babs's rosy alcove became a womb of mud and, on the bed, Babs herself was corpse-colored, a cadaver galvanized into posthumous epilepsy.

Island. Copyright © by Aldous Huxley. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.

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Island 4.1 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 65 reviews.
JakeNJ More than 1 year ago
I really liked this book a lot, but having said that, I actually thought it was a continuation of "Brave New World". In Brave New World, Huxley mentions the Island several times. It is a place for those who have not been able to adapt to the Brave New World society of pre-conditioned and expected behavior, thinking and lifestyle. The Island is the place for those who tend to be individuals and think for themselves. It is not a form of punishment, but rather a way to have those who have not given in to Soma and the Rules of Brave New World, to still have a place to live among others like them and express themselves, yet be productive human beings. Well, this Island is not that. Island is about a man who ends up in this "paradise" and people who truly have found synergy in the way they live, interact and love. The place where they have found a way, as many try, to "harness human spirit". They tend to think of themselves as individuals, but working towards common goal and trying to better their society while still keeping their individual thinking. It all sounds great and as many have tried, to create a perfect world, but once again, we see that it is not possible. Not because it just can't be done, but because there is always someone, those, who tend to want something different from the rest. Whether it is good, bad, evil or however someone wants to judge that behavior, there are always those who do not give in or don't want to go along with the rest, no matter how good it might be. Religious: The book, or better yet the society, that Huxley describes is pointing out that all the organized religions have a flow. At the same time, it points out that Buddhism allows the individual to be part of society, but still be an individual in their own sense of being. Well, I don't know enough about Buddhism to know for sure if that is the way of the Buddha or this is just their, Pala's way of Buddhism. I am pretty sure that if the book wanted to take a point of religion or lack of religion is either too constrictive or too relaxed, respectively, wouldn't it apply to most or all? Just pointing out that Huxley, in this fictional Utopian paradise, describes Buddhism or their form of Buddhism as a way of living in "here and now", therefore enjoying every moment and not some distant eternal life.  Spirituality: Through my martial arts training, I have read, taken and tried multiple forms of medication and ways of zen being. In the book, they talk in some depth about how meditating or inducing subconscious thinking, either naturally or through moksha-medicine, they are able to find their inner being, restore balance and "be happy". Everyone on the island can and should be able to induce this state at any given time. Huxley's fascination with describing induced Utopia involves suggestive or subconscious state. In Brave New World we have seen Soma and here through Moksha-medicine.  Social Structure: Even though they live in more or less equal society, if that was ever possible, they do have royalties and they do have those with more than normal human "greed" and "ambitions". In Pala, they don't have Socialism and they don't Capitalism. They live in harmony, where everyone contributes to society, to better that society and try various tasks, jobs that will better channel their natural ability and peek their interest for full satisfaction. They claim to have found a way to channel Muscle Man and Peter Pan types into challenges that make them non dangerous to society and also valuable in the sense of those abilities. It is a great way to ponder on something that can be done as such, but this is a fiction and in reality, there are those who can not be tamed and therefore lash out and develop on their natural human character. Human spirit is not possible to harness, condition or tame. Whether that spirit is good, to be an individual to strive for something that is not available or that spirit is to do evil and dwell on all that is wrong in the world, it cannot be contained. That is the nature behind any "Utopian" thinking and the problem behind it.  The human nature is to want to do what it tends to do with unpredictable and unconditional thought process. Even in every "type" and every "character" of specific group, there are still multiple personal characteristics to each and every being. Even in the same family, same upbringing and same genetic structure, you can never predict what and how each one of the kids, even those who are exactly alike, will react in any given situation and preventing that behavior, would be almost, and actually, impossible. Overall, I really liked this book. It is not a fast reading page turner, but yet, it is a page turner nevertheless and I really enjoyed it for many reasons. I also kept thinking and comparing it a lot to "Celestine Prophesy". Somehow the spiritual aspect of the book kept remind me of that novel. If you are expecting something, as I have, you might be disappointed at first, but yet, I found it to be very well delivered message and a very interesting topic. I am glad that I picked it up and even though, not what I expected originally, still enjoyed it a lot. I was torn, because I wish there was 4.5 starts instead of like(4) and love(5) decision.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Huxley really should have written this as an opinion essay instead of a novel, because an essay is basically what it is. The plot is simple enough: Utopian island under siege by a power-hungry and unenlightened rest of the world. But there comes a point, and pretty quickly, at that, when one cannot help but notice that Huxley's version of Utopia is basically a hippie/beatnik-style world, complete with halucinogenic mushrooms and tantrik lovemaking--incidentally, at least half of the dialogue in the book is some islander explaining why the 'Yoga of Love' is so great. Furthermore, at least ninety percent of the book's dialogue is in page-length paragraphs, giving one the impression that people in Utopia never tire of rambling on about every single last detail of their society and what makes it tick... and somewhere in that paragraph of neverending rant, they will probably mention the tantrik stuff or the mushrooms. I would like to say that there's more to this book than that, but I'd be lying, so I'll stop here.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is an excellent book. In my opinion, it is significantly better than Brave New World (although I did think that was a great book as well). Pala is the only utopia i've ever read about that I wouldn't mind living in. Similar in a way to some of Salinger's later work involving the Glass family, mainly Seymour, in so far as there is a lot of discussion of Easter Religions.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I came to Huxley through 'Brave New World' like many, I'm sure, and have found that few of his other works are commensurate. However, 'Island' is more thought provoking and consciousness invoking that BNW. It may not be as overtly profound but the ideas he is forwarding make you stop and examine your own life, the way you were brought up and think about things. This is clearly a very important work.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Aldous Huxley, an author that realized reality and envisioned the future, shows an incredible talent of portarying the world as it stood in the 1930's. The description of Pala, Huxley's own Garden of Eden, will make your mouth water and imagination sour. It must be read between the lines, but Huxley's philosophy is screaming from this book. IN high school i read Brave New World, which was exactly what he DIDN'T want to happen. But Island is his own vision of what life should be--freedom to be who you want to be, living in the here and now, and being fully aware of all that surrounds you (which could range from the grass under your feet to the little gurgles in your stomach). Huxley is a magnificient author who has captured my interest in the ever changing society, has opened my eyes to the 'real' world, and has provoked me to do some writing of my own. I strongly suggest this book to anyone trying to find that better place, but know too well that its not there. Here it is, in this book!
tronella on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
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.
suetu on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
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.
TakeItOrLeaveIt on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
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.
mkp on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
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.
Drewano More than 1 year ago
I wasn’t a big fan of this book. While the premise started off good enough the book soon changes from a story to a series of long speeches on society and values. As a result the plot doesn’t move much and there descriptions of the island of Pala are virtually non-existent much past the start. If you’re a philosophy student or into self-help, this book might peak your interest otherwise I would look elsewhere for entertainment.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Huxley is profound - and should be as important to be read today as when he first published this novel.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Hello *grins*
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
*walks in with brown hair and bright lightning blue eyes*
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
She was already there, she was pretty, sexy, and beautiful "hey!"
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
She purred in amusement. "Bye, Fleckpaw!" She meowed and returned to camp. <p> The others returned.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
-_- Honestly this personal lag i have is getting anyoing
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
TraceyMadeley More than 1 year ago
A Utopian Vision Huxley's fictional island paradise is called Pala and it is where the journalist Will Farnaby is washed up on the beach. He has been sent to encourage the oil companies claim to exploit the oil reserves on the island. The first people he meets are Dr MacPhail and the young Raj Murugan. His mother is the Rani and controlling influence in his minority. She wants to use the oil reserves to finance a Crusade of the Spirit and so purge the islands of 'hypnotism, pantheism and free love.'  Murugan seeks to establish his authority by siding with his mother against the 'old fogies' of the constitutional government in order to modernise and industrialise the island. Palanese life is simplicity itself. They grow food co-operatively in planted terraces. The only industry on the island is the cement works and people work there part time in-between the forest, agriculture and the saw mill. Pala has a system of self governing units, geographical, economic and political. They also have no established church, religion is based on immediate gratification and no unjustifiable dogma.  Children and birth control become an important part of the system as the island does not produce more children than it can realistically feed, clothe and educate. In addition children are brought up in Mutual Adoption Clubs with between 15 - 25 couples who share responsibility in bringing up the children of the group. At 4 or 5 all children undergo a physical and psychological assessment to ascertain any problems with shyness or over aggressive behaviour. Steps are then taken to readjust this behaviour and integrate them into Palanese life. Crimes does not occur very often, but when it does it is dealt with through counselling in the MAC and if necessary medication. They see Western medicine as largely primitive, although they value antibiotics and sewerage systems  for stopping the spread if disease they see our cure rather than prevention. Instead they look at a holistic system which takes into account what you eat, think, feel, hear, how you make love and how you view you place in the world. By looking at the person as a whole they take a more rounded and Buddhist influenced view of the individual.  The final chapter is given over to Wills experience of what we may term 'magic mushrooms' explaining both the euphoric and terrifying experience associated with the hallucinogen. Despite the prospect of change for Pala, Huxley still ends the novel positively. Will has experienced something totally unique and credible and due to this experience his thinking has been changed. What ever happens to Pala, Will Farnaby will never be the same again.
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