Title: Fahrenheit 451
My rating: 4/5
The terrifyingly prophetic novel of a post-literate future.
Guy Montag is a fireman. His job is to burn books, which are forbidden, being the source of all discord and unhappiness. Even so, Montag is unhappy; there is discord in his marriage. Are books hidden in his house? The Mechanical Hound of the Fire Department, armed with a lethal hypodermic, escorted by helicopters, is ready to track down those dissidents who defy society to preserve and read books.
The classic dystopian novel of a post-literate future, Fahrenheit 451 stands alongside Orwell’s 1984 and Huxley’s Brave New World as a prophetic account of Western civilization’s enslavement by the media, drugs and conformity.
Bradbury’s powerful and poetic prose combines with uncanny insight into the potential of technology to create a novel which, decades on from first publication, still has the power to dazzle and shock.
This is one of those books that should have been taught in my school system growing up, and alas I finally have the chance to read it. Especially as an adult, I feel I have a better understanding than if I did read it when I was younger. As it just passed the 50th anniversary, I found that elements can still reign true – such as (in essence) the brainwashing of ideas that may or may not serve the greater good but are rooted in persuasive narrative and evidence. Thinking that the burning of books is the future Ray Bradbury imagined astonishes me as it projects concepts of where knowledge should be derived from and the punishment for those who seek information elsewhere. The introduction lets us readers in to Bradbury’s writing process in this story. I love the concept of responding to the simple phrases of What if…., If only…, and If this goes on…. That is a brilliant way to address an issue creatively. By making fiction a potential reality, one is inspired by something they have experienced or foreseen.
“You know the law…Where’s your common sense? None of these books agree with each other.” (Bradbury 35)
“There must be something in books, things we can’t imagine, to make a woman stay in a burning house; there must be something there. You don’t stay for nothing.” (Bradbury 48)
What are your thoughts on a dystopian world with no books?