Chapter 17

‘Art, science—you seem to have paid a fairly high price for your happiness,’ said the Savage, when they were alone. ‘Anything else?’

‘Well, religion, of course,’ replied the Controller. ‘There used to be something called God—before the Nine Years’ War. But I was forgetting; you know all about God, I suppose.’

‘Well …’ The Savage hesitated. He would have liked to say something about solitude, about night, about the mesa lying pale under the moon, about the precipice, the plunge into shadowy darkness, about death. He would have liked to speak; but there were no words. Not even in Shakespeare.

The Controller, meanwhile, had crossed to the other side of the room and was unlocking a large safe let into the wall between the bookshelves. The heavy door swung open. Rummaging in the darkness within, ‘It’s a subject,’ he said, ‘that has always had a great interest for me.’ He pulled out a thick black volume. ‘You’ve never read this, for example.’

The Savage took it. ‘The Holy Bible, containing the Old and New Testaments,’ he read aloud from the title-page.

‘Nor this.’ It was a small book and had lost its cover.

The Imitation of Christ.’

‘Nor this.’ He handed out another volume.

The Varieties of Religious Experience. By William James.’

‘And I’ve got plenty more,’ Mustapha Mond continued, resuming his seat. ‘A whole collection of pornographic old books. God in the safe and Ford on the shelves.’ He pointed with a laugh to his avowed library—to the shelves of books, the racks full of reading-machine bobbins and sound-track rolls.

‘But if you know about God, why don’t you tell them?’ asked the Savage indignantly. ‘Why don’t you give them these books about God?’

‘For the same reason as we don’t give them Othello: they’re old; they’re about God hundreds of years ago. Not about God now.’

‘But God doesn’t change.’

‘Men do, though.’

‘What difference does that make?’

‘All the difference in the world,’ said Mustapha Mond. He got up again and walked to the safe. ‘There was a man called Cardinal Newman,’ he said. ‘A cardinal,’ he exclaimed parenthetically, ‘was a kind of Arch-Community-Songster.’

“‘I, Pandulph, of fair Milan cardinal.” I’ve read about them in Shakespeare.’

‘Of course you have. Well, as I was saying, there was a man called Cardinal Newman. Ah, here’s the book.’ He pulled it out. ‘And while I’m about it I’ll take this one too. It’s by a man called Maine de Biran. He was a philosopher, if you know what that was.’

‘A man who dreams of fewer things than there are in heaven and earth,’ said the Savage promptly.

‘Quite so. I’ll read you one of the things he did dream of in a moment. Meanwhile, listen to what this old Arch-Community-Songster said.’ He opened the book at the place marked by a slip of paper and

  By PanEris using Melati.

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