Aldous Huxley’s novel Brave New World gets its title from Shakespeare’s The Tempest. The line is uttered by the sheltered Miranda. She is astonished to see other men, the coarse and drunken sailors that crashlanded on the island cause her to cry out:
How many goodly creatures are there here!
How beauteous mankind is! O brave new world,
That has such people in’t.
The irony is carried over in Brave New World when John the Savage remarks: “O brave new world that has such people in it.”
The civilized Bernard Marx responds: “You have a most peculiar way of talking sometimes,” said Bernard, staring at the young man in perplexed astonishment. “And, anyhow, hadn’t you better wait till you actually see the new world?”
The French edition was titled Le Meilleur des mondes (The Best of all Worlds) an allusion to the phrase coined by the philosopher Gottfried Leibniz in his theodicy.
“About 99.5 per cent of the entire population of the planet are as stupid and philistine as the great masses of the English . . . The important thing, it seems to me, is not to attack the 99.5 per cent – except for exercise – but to try to see that the 0.5 per cent survives, keeps its quality up to the highest possible level and, if possible, dominates the rest.”