Nearly seventy years after its original publication, Ray Bradbury’s internationally acclaimed novel Fahrenheit 451 stands as a classic of world literature set in a bleak, dystopian future. Today its message has grown more relevant than ever before.Guy Montag is a fireman. His job is to destroy the most illegal of commodities, the printed book, along with the houses in which they are hidden. Montag never questions the destruction and ruin his actions produce, returning each day to his bland life and wife, Mildred, who spends all day with her television “family.” But when he meets an eccentric young neighbor, Clarisse, who introduces him to a past where people didn’t live in fear and to a present where one sees the world through the ideas in books instead of the mindless chatter of television, Montag begins to question everything he has ever known.
January 10, 2012
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This is a must read book!! But I will say that I have a totally different point of view to the story than what most, in fact, all the reviews and editorials I have seen. I am not a bookworm and so the idea that books are gone is not an apocalyptic idea. The book was written before the internet and the information age. It is WHY the books are burned and WHAT the books represent that should open your eyes and minds while reading this book.If all you get out of this book is the “removal” of books from society to become more connected to our electronic devices I feel so bad for you.The point of burning the books is explained. I might give just a couple of spoilers, but everyone knows the premise of 1984 and this book is similar. It is so much more than about books.It is about censorship and the people wanting it. The government has banned all printed material except for comic books, 3D pornographic magazines, “good old confessions” and trade journals. All other printed material is deemed too offensive to someone. So much in-fighting in society because everyone claiming something offends them. So to make everyone happy, the offensive materials are removed. Because of the year this was written (1953) Ray Bradbury could have not envisioned the internet. If he had, it would have been heavily censored also. In 1953 ideas and knowledge were shared through print as they had been for hundreds of years.According to the book, the people wanted the offensive materials removed. Because everyone is offended by something then everything is offensive, it must all be destroyed.For me the novel rings true about how easily people are offended by another person’s ideas, thoughts, actions, beliefs. In the story those things are still allowed (they can’t control what you think), but without being able to write them down ideas and thoughts die pretty fast.Ultimately the story is about freedom and not being so judgmental of others lest ye be judged. If you look around today, 11/4/2017, this story has never been more relevant. We have protests and attacks in the streets daily based on ideals and beliefs that clash with others. These clashes occur, rather than people going their separate ways and understanding that the beliefs and ideals of others are just as legitimate as their own. Some groups would rather have a scorched earth policy and destroy everything they hold dear, as long as the other side loses everything as well.
Of all books. I’m disappointed, Simon & Schuster. Of all books.How am I supposed to read a book about a dystopian future where books are forbidden, deemed a danger to society, summarized, digested, and then silenced, and not trust you to publish an accurate copy of the author’s original work?I found two errors by the time I reached page 53, and only because they are glaringly obvious. Having not read the book before I have no idea how else the work has deviated from the author’s source material.Page 37 – “Master Ridley,” said Montag a last.A last? What is that? “A” should be “at.”This one is particularly egregious:Page 53 – “School is shortened, discipline relaxed, philosophies, histories, languages dropped, English and spelling gradually gradually neglected, finally almost completely ignored.”Gradually gradually? Really, really? There should only be one occurrence of the word.I am disappointed, at best. It is now upon me to return this book and find an accurate replacement. The onus to find accurate text in published works should not be on the consumer.
Never read this before and have always wanted to. Got to this point and noticed the page numbers jumped from 18 to 47. Am I just dumb and this is how the book was written, or am I actually missing pages? Any help would be much appreciated.
‘It was a pleasure to burn.’It’s such a famous opening line and despite the fact that I’d never read Fahrenheit 451, one I’ve seemed to know for the longest time. It would crop up every so often in my life, usually at trivia nights. I knew it was a classic book, the type reluctant schoolchildren are assigned to read as part of their curriculum. As a progressive I always felt I was doing it a disservice by not reading it, so I set out to buy it on Amazon and finished it in under a day.Let’s tackle the plot first.It’s set in a Mid-West American city in a dystopian future. Our hero, Guy Montag, is a fireman except firemen in the future don’t put out fires, they cause them. Books are forbidden and if any are discovered they are burned, including the house hiding them. Montag has no qualms with this, until one day he’s called out to the house of an elderly lady. She chooses to set fire to herself and her house before Montag can do it. Shaken to the core by this, he tries to share it with his wife Mildred, but she’s too addicted to vapid and superficial television shows to engage in conversation. Her big concern is getting a fourth TV. The only person he develops a connection to is his teenage neighbour, Clarisse. She’s free-spirited and questions him constantly. One day she goes missing. Mildred casually tells him that Clarisse is dead.Montag starts to wonder if books are really so bad. He steals a book of poetry from a house he’s called out to burn. His chief begins to grow suspicious of him and pontificates about the dangers of books and independent thinking. Montag begins to feel rebellious as he rails against the hedonistic nature of society. One night Mildred invites some girlfriends over. Montag rashly brings his book out and recites poetry to them, moving one woman to tears. The others are mortified and Montag finds himself in serious trouble. I’ll stop here before spoilers creep in.I was interested to learn Bradbury’s inspiration for this book. Apparently he was once out walking at night with a fellow writer when a police car pulled up and an officer got out. He asked Bradbury what he was doing, to which he responded that he was walking, “Putting one foot in front of the other.” The officer was unamused with what he considered a smark aleck response and told him never to do it again. Bradbury was so angry that he went home and wrote a short story about a man who lived in a time when walking was considered a crime. Bradbury was also outraged at the persecution of artists by Senator Joseph McCarthy, and the House of un-American Activities.Many writers far better equipped than myself have wrestled writing a treatise for this book, so I’ll leave further analysis to them. I just wanted to say that despite the obvious allegory in the story, I think it works just as a simple tale about the importance of books. Books have always been a big presence in my life. From as far back as I can remember, I have always had a full bookcase, jam-packed with titles in my bedroom. I was a voracious reader, blithely leaving books wherever I finished them (invariably not in said bookcase). I grew complacent and took it for granted that I was free to read whatever I chose. It was only as I grew older that I began learning about the destruction of the Library of Alexandria, about the Nazi book burnings, and about the scorching and burial of texts and hundreds of Confucian scholars in ancient China. It’s sobering stuff and made me think. I know of no country that doesn’t have an undercurrent of anti-intellectualism. Generally books are considered deep (though plenty aren’t), and there will always be those whom openly distrust (to the point of hostility) those deemed ‘highfalutin and clever.’ It is entirely plausible that at some stage in the future, books will be banned in any given country. If nothing else Fahrenheit 451 should serve as a warning against authoritarianism, and for a call to keep the free flow of knowledge and art alive. When I cast a roving eye on the pile of books next to me, I am full of appreciation and awe. I will protect them from any fire.
The Kindle edition does not consist of text. Rather, it consists of images of each page. There is only a white background and the text cannot change size. If this is a problem for you, you’ll want to find a different ebook format.
I read the first four or five pages four or five times. Once I got myself into “dystopian” mode, then I was flying. Frankly, this book blew me away. Published in 1953, the future Bradbury imagined has well and truly arrived. I’m not talking about “robo dog” and book burning in a literal sense, but the mind numbing effect of social media, the empty diet of visual pap and meaningless tripe so many of us call “entertainment” So many scenes in this book stand out; slap you hard in the face for being willfully ignorant about important issues; for being politically apathetic. Let’s hope that we will be spared the cataclysmic ending Bradbury envisioned. The writing is efficient rather than lyrical, but the intellectual content is astounding. Would recommend.
Fahrenheit 451 is a book I would probably have said I’d read if you’d asked me. I could probably have told you the basic premise: a dystopian land where books are banned and ‘Firemen’ don’t put out fires any more. I might well have read it and – rather counter to the spirit of the book – then pretty much forgotten it. And that’s kind of sad because this book is one that most readers know about, a book that challenges the things we love, and yet it’s also not really all that great. I hate to say it but it’s a little bit forgettable.It’s a short novel and a quick read and it lights the flicker of a flame of thinking about the power of books but it’s all just so rushed, so fast to develop and accelerate, that a lot of the opportunities to explore deeper are missed. Montag the fireman – one of the elite who set fire to books, burn people’s houses to punish them for the knowledge in their books – witnesses an old lady start a fire and kill herself because she can’t be without her books, and meets a young girl who tells him there’s so much more to books then just fuel for his fires. He takes a book and becomes part of the anti-establishment.In the foreword to the book, Ray Bradbury tells us he spent less than 10 dollars hiring the use of a typewriter to write Fahrenheit 451. Sadly sometimes it shows. This is just the bare bones of a story, lacking the meat to flesh it out into something more satisfying, more horrifying. It was written in the 1950s with the Nazi book burnings still fresh in people’s minds but long before the wall-to-wall round the clock interactive television experiences that Bradbury envisions. For its time it must have been revolutionary. Today it just looks a bit tired and much too rushed.
This is a classic novel that I have never got round to reading. I came across it recently being compared to a modern dystopian novel and thought it would be interesting to read this book to see if it had aged well. It may also be curious to see if any of it elements have come true (it was published in 1953).At 225 pages split into three parts this book is small, particularly when its larger than average font is considered.It’s a long time since I’ve read a Ray Bradbury book (since I studied The Illustrated Man in 1983!!). I have little interest in science fiction or fantasy novels although enjoy some dystopian novels so I approached this cautiously but hopefully.There is a great quote at the start of the book “If they give you ruled paper, write the other way”. Maybe this is a hint of the rebellion in this book.I always ignore introductions to “classic” books as they are usually written by sycophantic admirers and give away too much of the novel (note to publishers… always put these at the end of novels not the beginning). This introduction is written by the author himself and worth reading – it gives context and sets the scene of him writing the story.I tried very hard to enjoy this book but it was ultimately too much of a struggle and took a huge amount of time to read. The language is overplayed with some of the descriptive sections not actually describing anything at all. I wanted to try to get to know the characters but didn’t get anywhere close.I love the idea of the concept of TV taking over from books and how this effects society so was unsure how this author managed to make the narrative so uninspiring.The novel was controversial when it was released and I can see why but the world has moved very far since then and, without the shock factor, this book is more of a curiosity than a classic.
Fire Is Bright And Fire Is CleanThe first thing that struck me was the style. It reads a bit like a fairy tale – Brothers Grimm – the language at times has a poetic quality, at times even puerile. The pace is unusually fast. There are no chapters as such, just the three parts and the book burns through fiercely. But there are some important messages going on here and some warnings about the unpredictable or perhaps even predictable course society is following. If they are not burning books they will be censoring the internet. It is about control. We all know the historical precedents. So for me this book is a reminder to be vigilant!There is a very telling dialogue with Beatty, Montag`s fireman colleague who sets out very clearly the reasons why people need to be controlled. This episode is striking and deserves close attention.I was reminded a bit of Orwell`s Animal Farm in that we have a fairly short story with a surreal like quality but with a very powerful message at its core and a warning of the perils which are ever present.
Finished reading this, can’t say I enjoyed it but it is important from a prophetic dystopian point of view:1 – tyranny comes from bottom, the people2 – reality tv shows are v similar to the shows that society watches in the book3 – predicted the banning of ‘offensive’ material against minorities, in the book to the point where all literature is banned4 – intoxicants to keep people going has come true with anti-depressants proscribed like sweets today and other drug use.5 – the education system in the west has become intellectually impoverished outside science, few university graduates have any grasp of philosophy or history which used to be a given. In the book they are completely dropped.6 – predicted flat screen tvs and earphones which are used by people to shut themselves off from societyLike 1984,the left love this book despite it actually being more applicable to them than the right.
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