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Literary BioethicsAnimality, Disability, and the Human$
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Maren Tova Linett

Print publication date: 2020

Print ISBN-13: 9781479801268

Published to NYU Press Scholarship Online: January 2021

DOI: 10.18574/nyu/9781479801268.001.0001

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Old Lives

Old Lives

Huxley’s Brave New World

(p.61) 2 Old Lives
Literary Bioethics

Maren Tova Linett

NYU Press

Chapter 2 takes a disability studies approach to aging by viewing Brave New World (1932) as a thought experiment that explores the value of old age. Reading the novel alongside Ezekiel Emanuel’s claim that it would be best for everyone to die at around age seventy-five, before their abilities begin to decline, the chapter reads the absence of old people in the World State as an aspect of its dystopia. The chapter first argues that the persistent youth embraced by the society robs life of its narrative arc and thereby of an important aspect of its meaning. It then explores the reasons suggested by the novel that such a sacrifice of life narratives is not worthwhile, even to avoid periods of possible disability or frailty. Brave New World makes clear that the excision of old age has significant political, moral, and emotional costs.

Keywords:   Aldous Huxley, Brave New World, aging, disability, life narratives, life stages, dystopia, Ezekiel Emanuel

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