The philosophical issues raised by Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World are myriad, touching on everything from the philosophy of science to metaethics. As it stands, Brave New World is often named one of the three great dystopian novels of the twentieth century, alongside We by Yevgeny Zamyatin and 1984 by George Orwell. The subject of today’s article is an interview with daring young theatre director Nabra Nelson. What interested me in pursuing this interview is that I became aware that Nelson—approaching Brave New World from what in philosophical terms is essentially an existentialist and pragmatic perspective—considers the society in Huxley’s novel to be a utopia rather than a dystopia. So I sat down with Nabra Nelson at the Casa Escobar Inn in Malibu, California to ask her about her peculiar take on this classic novel.
Hello, Nabra. Thanks for taking the time to meet with me today. The meat of our discussion is a novel by Aldous Huxley: Brave New World, sometimes called one of the three greatest dystopias of the twentieth century. But as I understand it, you wouldn’t even call it a dystopia. From your perspective, this might stand alongside works in an older genre (begun by Thomas More’s original Utopia) as a vision of an actual utopian society—regardless of Huxley’s own position. Could you start by talking in general about your experience of reading the novel, and how you came to this conclusion?
Interview with Nabra Nelson,