36 of 37 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Classic Science Fiction
It has been said that this short but unforgettable work represents Bradbury's only wholly successful novel. Personally I think Something Wicked This Way Comes is equally grand, and far more typical of its author, but there is no doubt that Fahrenheit 451 finds his narrative skills at their finest: the book drives forward with a clarity and urgency not found in any of...
Published on 14 Nov. 2004 by Julian Middleton
20 of 22 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Some great ideas, but uneven execution - I expected more
"Fahrenheit 451" has a reputation as a modern and science fiction classic, and so I was expecting quite a lot from it and ended up somewhat disappointed. Whilst there are some fascinating ideas in this novel by Ray Bradbury, particularly its central theme of a future in which all books are banned and burned, the writing does not live up to the concepts...
Published on 22 Aug. 2009 by unlikely_heroine
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36 of 37 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Classic Science Fiction,
It has been said that this short but unforgettable work represents Bradbury's only wholly successful novel. Personally I think Something Wicked This Way Comes is equally grand, and far more typical of its author, but there is no doubt that Fahrenheit 451 finds his narrative skills at their finest: the book drives forward with a clarity and urgency not found in any of Bradbury's other novels. His prophetic and visionary quality ranks alongside Orwell's, combining with paired down and super-efficient prose to create a nightmarish near-future where books are banned and burned upon discovery, and the firemen who destroy them 'custodians of our peace of mind'. Individuality is crushed and the masses satiated by the TV screens that adorn every wall of their living rooms. The protagonist is himself a fireman, until one day he begins reading a book and his world turns upside down. A brilliant and subversive piece of work, Fahrenheit 451 seems more relevent today than when it was written, not least because the world really has become increasingly as Bradbury foresaw. Short enough to be read in a single sitting, the book packs a punch that is never quite forgotten.
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Bradbury's always timely warning on the evils of censorship,
I am teaching "Fahrenheit 451" as the example of a dsytopian novel in my Science Fiction class, although it is certainly one of the most atypical of that particular type of narrative discourse. Compared to such heavy weight examples as George Orwell's "1984," Aldous Huxley's "Brave New World," Yevgeny Zamiatin's "We," Ray Bradbury's imaginative meditation on censorship seems like light reading. But the delicious irony of a world in which firemen start fires remains postent and the idea of people memorizing books so they will be preserved for future generations is compelling. Of course, there have been more documented cases of "book burning," albeit in less literal forms, since "Fahrenheit 451" was first published in 1953, so an argument can be made that while all the public debate was over how close we were the Orwellian future envisioned in "1984," it is Bradbury's little parable that may well be more realistic (especially in terms of the effects of television).
The novel is based on a short story, "The Fireman," that Bradbury published in "Galaxy Science Fiction" in 1951 and then expanded into "Fahrenheit 451" two years later. However, those who have studied Bradbury's writings caw trace key elements back to a 1948 story "Pillar of Fire" and the "Usher II" story from his 1950 work "The Martian Chronicles." Beyond that, there is the historical record of the Nazis burning books in 1933. The story is of a future world in which everyone understands that books are for burning, along with the houses in which they were hidden. Guy Montage is a fireman who has been happy in his work for ten years, but suddenly finds himself asking questions when he meets a teenage girl and an old professor.
"Fahrenheit 451" is not only about censorship, but also about the inherent tension in advanced societies between knowledge and ignorance. Reading this novel again I am reminded about Pat Paulsen’s editorial on the old "Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour" (a series well acquainted with the perils of censorship) about how we might enjoy freedom of speech in this country but we do not enjoy freedom of hearing because "there is always the danger of something being said." Censorship, in practical terms, is the effort of those who do not want others to hear what they find offensive, for whatever reasons, basically because it leads to people thinking thoughts they do not want them to be thinking. Through the rambling diatribes of Captain Beatty, Bradbury makes this point quite clear to his readers.
Even though this is essentially a novella, Bradbury's work retains the charm of a short story. The recurring use of animal imagery throughout the story, the use of the mythic ideas of the salamander and the phoenix, make "Fahrenheit 451" more poetic than any other dystopian work. Even if it is predominantly a one note argument regarding censorship, it is impossible to deny that Bradbury makes a clear and convincing case for his position. Besides, there is something to be said for any work that insures that beyond the point at which water freezes the only other recognizable number on the Fahrenheit scale is the point at which book paper starts to burn.
45 of 48 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "We went right on insulting the dead...",
I've been checking out some of the classics that I never gave a chance while in high school, now that I'm a much more aware and mature reader. "Fahrenheit 451" was something I always wanted to read but never got around to it. Well, I have finally read it and the time was very much well spent. Ray Bradbury offers a bleak and dim future where thinking for yourself is against the law.
Guy Montag's life had always been simple. He understood the order of things, and he understood the nature of his job. He was a fireman, and that entailed burning books and burning down the buildings that hid them. He never questioned it once and never felt guilty for what he was doing. Things take a different route when he meets a peculiar girl who asks the tough questions that he has never had to answer. And with those questions, he starts to think and wonder why things are the way they are. Ever since the meeting with this stranger, Montag is curious about the true nature of his job, leading to dangerous revelations that will put his very life in jeopardy.
Bradbury has created a magnificent piece of literature that attacks censorship and the numbing of society head on with no regrets and no remorse. He doesn't need to give us an exact year of this future, as that makes it all the more frightening. Even though this is a work of fiction, it seems so realistic and so possible that all of this could really happen to us. Think about it. We are now a "TV Generation" who spend a lot less time reading, people are trying to ban different types of books for different reasons, and anything that is deemed "unpleasant" is demanded to be "fixed" or "taken care of" so we can all feel happy and not deal with the pain and troubles of life. Bradbury captures all of this and does not give you a bitter rant about today's youth, but he uses all of that negative energy and creates something so profound and well established. It's no mistake that this fine novel has sold millions upon millions of copies and is forever deemed a classic.
The writing is simple to read and it is a short book. You will have to give it a few pages before you can really get into it all, but make sure that you stick with it. Once it gets moving, there's no stopping the pages. Bradbury is great with imagery and provides excellent descriptions--but never goes overboard with them. It's such a short read that you could most likely finish it in a day or two if you put the effort into it. Turn off that TV for just a few hours or so and pick this up! It definitely sticks in your head once it's all said and done, and you will be thinking about everything that has transpired in this book.
"Fahrenheit 451" is a tremendous work of fiction that is both thought-provoking and terrifying (in a subtle way). It really goes to show you how terrible things can get if censorship wins, and it really can happen if you think about it. If you haven't given this a read yet, I strongly encourage you to pick up a copy as soon as you can. This is a book that I know I will be re-reading again in the very near future. -Michael Crane
16 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars What foresight!,
Fahrenheit 451 tells the story of Guy Montag; a fireman whose job is not to put out fires – all homes of Bradbury’s future having been fireproofed – but to start them. The firemen’s prime targets are books.
What follows is a poetic and mesmerizing look at a future of censorship that has far too many parallels to modern day consumerist societies. This edition contains an introduction and afterword that is just as interesting as the novel itself. Here Bradbury cites the arrival of MTV and other commercial entertainment as factors that are distracting us, as a society, from the essential knowledge found in libraries. He notes that such firemen are not needed anymore because we are doing the job for them.
Also explained is the genesis of the book itself. The author describes how F451 has its origins in 5 short stories including a surreal-sounding one based on an experience of his being stopped by a police patrol car just for walking down the street.
A superbly written book that has eerie similarities with the world today.
13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An extraordinary journey through a world of no books,
One morning during my free period at college I was sat in the library and noticed they had three copies of Fahrenheit 451. I'd heard that it was hailed as a great dystopia (some even ranked it alongside Brave New World and 1984) and so decided to begin reading. The thing which immediately struck me was that it wasn't a hard piece of literature and very enjoyable, even peaceful, to read. By 10 pm that night I had finished it all.
The story is about a future society in which books are illegal. Anyone found in possession of one is either sent to jail or burnt alive with them. All houses are 100% fire-proof and so the Firemen come along with their hoses which pump kerosene rather than water and soak the whole inside of the house (the books are normally tossed in one big pile in the centre). Guy Montag is one such firemen, but after meeting a very strange girl which changes the direction of his life and the way he views things, undergoes a revelation that results in him trying to save some of the few remaining books. In many ways the society described is similar to that in 1984, though isn't quite as radical or extreme.
Many unexpected twists occur and Montag finds himself running from the law after committing some serious crimes. He just can't relate to the people around him and their ignorant little minds which have been moulded into what the government wants; they're trapped in an artificial world where "Everyone's happy". But, as with all dystopias, we know they're all really dying inside (Freud would have probably put it down to serious repression).
As well as undergoing an immense physical journey through this society, Montag also experiences a profound personal one which lead to some amazing insights into the nature of man. Could you imagine a world without books? Well, Montag learns that it's not really the books that are all-important, it's what they mean and say. So, it's no doubt that him and others like him come up with a way of passing the information through generations without the physical need of books. There's hope for Plato, Aristotle, Russell, Einstein, Shakespeare, and Ghandi yet.... not to mention the rest of them.
Fahrenheit 451 is a books with rare talent which can be ploughed through in a few days and will no doubt remain vividly in your imagination for years to come. I recommend it to people of all ages - not only the school kids, but adults alike. In fact, if anything, being a little bit older adds to the experience (16 onwards and you're on a winner). Enjoy!
20 of 22 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Some great ideas, but uneven execution - I expected more,
"Fahrenheit 451" has a reputation as a modern and science fiction classic, and so I was expecting quite a lot from it and ended up somewhat disappointed. Whilst there are some fascinating ideas in this novel by Ray Bradbury, particularly its central theme of a future in which all books are banned and burned, the writing does not live up to the concepts.
Bradbury is open in the Afterword about the fact that the book was constructed from various short stories, and it really does become obvious when reading through that this is the case. At times, the joins between the different tales are too easy to see, and the central character of Guy Montag is inconsistent as the narrative moves from each set-piece situation to the next.
I did enjoy some of the discussion in this book, for example Montag's dialogue with a professor about what books mean and why they are so important. As a story and reading experience, however, "Fahrenheit 451" was for me, unsatisfying. None of the characters truly engage, the end sequence seems to lapse into incongruous fantasy, and overall, Bradbury does not provide the reader with a genuinely convincing story to partner his intriguing vision of a nightmarish, authoritarian, conformist regime.
10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A book that continues to touch on modern life,
Though I was long familiar with many of Bradbury's works, I had put off reading "Fahrenheit 451" in favor of other books until a friend lent it to me recently. After reading it, I'm angry with myself for having taken so long to pick it up. This book is a fantastic tale of a future society that abandons intellectual development and destroys its books. Like all great literature, it offers insight into our society today despite having been written over a half-century ago, and it continues to reward reading today.
This book is more than a seminal work of dystopian literature, however; it is also one of the most elegant meditations on the value of literature in modern society that I have ever read. In envisioning a society that destroys books, Bradbury has to explain what is lost as a result. His answer, as we see in Faber's expositions during Montag's visit, is the exact thing which makes this book worth reading - the insights we gain into our own world and our own lives through reading. Integral to this process, of course, is the fact that people must read them and put what they take from them to good use for a society to thrive; as Bradbury notes, the first step towards the world of his novel was taken when people stopped reading. It is this message which makes "Fahrenheit 451" essential reading, especially in a society where entertainment today bears an ever-closer resemblance to the noise-dominated media depicted in Bradbury's nightmarish future.
19 of 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A message that grows more important every day,
It was a pleasure to burn. So begins, with this absolutely perfect opening line, Ray Bradbury’s celebrated exposition of the dangers of censorship. Everybody knows that Fahrenheit 451 is a novel about book-burning, but this story goes much deeper than those not having read it may suspect. Its message truly does become even more germane and prophetic with every passing day. The skeleton of the plot is rather basic, really. Guy Montag is a fireman whose job it is to burn books and the houses in which these dangerous manifestations of inane scribbling reside – usually hidden. Fahrenheit 451’s message is one that all people should be exposed to, and this novel is such a quick (but powerful) read that everyone really should read it. As horrible as it is to envision, I fear that this type of censorship could indeed happen here.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic, one of Sci-Fi classics!!!,
By A Customer
This review is from: Fahrenheit 451 (Voyager Classics) (Paperback)
This book provides a deep look into human's nature as it shows a whole set of "content, happy to be stupid" characters; thus probing into people's wish to lead easy uncomplicated lives. The main character's job is to burn books, all kind of books (god protect us from them, they could make us think...), but one day he just keeps one book for later examination...he begins to think on his own, how will people react to this, will it be tolerated?
Read this book to find out if you are, or are not a "sheep acting" person. If you liked 1984 or Brave New world you'll love it.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The future is now the present,
I enjoy a good dystopian fiction novel, examples of the genre include 1984 by George Orwell, Brave New World by Aldous Huxley, The Handmaids Tale and Oryx and Crake by Margaret Atwood, which each describe different horrors which might await us. Personally, it is the stories of this type which were written in the past but which project predictive visions of society as we know it today in a way which is both interesting and sinister, that I like most. As an example a personal favourite of mine is the E.M Forster short story 'The Machine Stops' written in 1909 which tells of a nightmare future in which humans depend on communicating with a machine, to work, to live, to listen to music, to travel and to talk to one another. The fascinating thing about this past vision of an oppressive future machine is that it is pretty much home computing as we know it today.
Despite its extremes Fahrenheit 451, written by Bradbury in 1953 is one such novel. The plot follows a character named Guy Montag who is a Fireman, but in Montag's world, Firemen don't put out fires they start them, they start them to burn books that people have hidden in their homes, and to take those hiding literature to prison. Books are banned and so is reading. There is of course the obvious allusion to the countries of post-war Communist Europe in which certain reading materials were banned and arrest for the crime of being an intellectual might occur should you be caught in possession of such literature. Bradbury takes this concept of state controlled reading and takes it a step further to a state were reading of any kind is not tolerated. Bradbury considers the implications for humans as individuals and for society as a whole. Worryingly, he hits the nail on the head for aspects of 2011 society as it stands with some of his ideas.
He speaks of a culture were subjects such as history, philosophy, languages and English spelling and grammar are no longer respected. We live in a time were many universities are closing their philosophy and/or language departments because the funding, and simply, the interest is not there to run them, students have become consumers in an education market rather than seekers of knowledge.
In a conversation between Clarisse and Montag, Clarisse says "My uncle says his grandfather remembered when children didn't kill each other. But that was a time when they had things different" The James Bulger Case caused an outcry nearly 20 years ago, but now child on child crime is becoming ever more commonplace. Some weeks ago I watched a harrowing documentary 'Scenes From A Teenage Killing' charting the amount of murders of teenagers over the last year by their own peers. The reactions of some London commuters whose journeys were interrupted by one murder showed only annoyance and irritation at the situation and no sense of shock or tragedy. Murder seemed to have become an unremarkable event.
In Fahrenheit 451 people use earphones to block out real world interactions with strangers or family with music or radio they enjoy like every iPod addict today causing the disintegration of real relationships. They mount multiple TVs to their walls and the characters feel like their true friends and family.
In one conversation Beatty speaks about how classic novels were once condensed into short articles or serial performances so that they would gain more attention. This made me think of the BBC adaptation of Bleak House some years ago. A great adaptation of a great book but, it was said, that it was to be shown in half hour installments in the hopes of creating a soap opera vibe, and attracting soap opera viewers. The TV programmes in the world of Fahrenheit 451 are short, snappy, often silly trying to keep viewers attention. When you look at some of the things on TV now, like that awful quiz show with the Hare that comes on before Doctor Who, amid complaints that Doctor Who itself is too complicated, you can see that our TV world isn't far off Bradbury's.
Beatty mocks intellectual thinking and is glad that it has become "the swearword it deserved to be" He talks about how it was always the bright boy in school who was hated and tormented. "We must all be alike." This reminded me of the modern trend for the celebration of ignorance, particularly ignorance in women. The kind of world where people take to their hearts reality TV contestants who think East Anglia is abroad and don't know if Shakespeare is alive or dead. The kind of world in which Jordan is a best selling author.
Bradbury really does come too close for comfort in Fahrenheit 451 to the worst of the now, the nightmares of the past are the commonplace of the present. That's a scary thought.
Outside of these projected visions that provoke thought, I wasn't sure how much I liked Fahrenheit 451 in terms of liking the main characters, Clarisse is really a great character wasted and should have had a greater role, Mildred is terribly annoying but I would think that's deliberate, but Montag is a desperate man whose desperation is clearly felt and well written. The book is also very visual, you can really see its events unfold in your mind. This is always the mark of a good novel.
I don't know whether the fact that Fahrenheit 451 is short is to its favour or its detriment. I almost feel like I was left wanting more, but isn't that a compliment to its writer really? The other good thing about this book is that I couldn't find it on iBooks or Kindle so i had to buy a paper copy. Although I love my iPad it is really nice to read in the old school way at times. 7/10
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Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury (Mass Market Paperback - 1 Oct. 1992)
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