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Fahrenheit 451 Paperback – Special Edition, 2 Aug 2004
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In Fahrenheit 451, Ray Bradbury's classic, frightening vision of the future, firemen don't put out fires--they start them in order to burn books. Bradbury's vividly painted society holds up the appearance of happiness as the highest goal--a place where trivial information is good, and knowledge and ideas are bad. Fire Captain Beatty explains it this way, "Give the people contests they win by remembering the words to more popular songs.... Don't give them slippery stuff like philosophy or sociology to tie things up with. That way lies melancholy."
Guy Montag is a book-burning fireman undergoing a crisis of faith. His wife spends all day with her television "family", imploring Montag to work harder so that they can afford a fourth TV wall. Their dull, empty life sharply contrasts with that of his next-door neighbour Clarisse, a young girl thrilled by the ideas in books, and more interested in what she can see in the world around her than in the mindless chatter of the tube. When Clarisse disappears mysteriously, Montag is moved to make some changes, and starts hiding books in his home. Eventually, his wife turns him in, and he must answer the call to burn his secret cache of books. After fleeing to avoid arrest, Montag winds up joining an outlaw band of scholars who keep the contents of books in their heads, waiting for the time society will once again need the wisdom of literature.
Bradbury--the author of more than 500 short stories, novels, plays and poems--including The Martian Chroniclesand The Illustrated Man--is the winner of many awards, including the Grand Master Award from the Science Fiction Writers of America. Readers aged 13 to 93 will be swept up in the harrowing suspense of Fahrenheit 451, and no doubt will join the hordes of Bradbury fans worldwide. --Neil Roseman --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
‘Fahrenheit 451 is the most skilfully drawn of all science fiction’s conformist hells’
‘Bradbury’s is a very great and unusual talent’
‘Ray Bradbury has a powerful and mysterious imagination which would undoubtedly earn the respect of Edgar Allen Poe’ GuardianSee all Product description
Top customer reviews
Books are banned. They cause too much unhappiness in people, giving them ideas and dreams they can never achieve in reality, so firemen drive around with flamethrowers burning them. They all have '451' on their uniforms, the temperature at which paper burns. A fearsome mechanical hound is used to sniff out books and book owners, assisting the firemen. Montag is a fireman. An old woman chooses to die with her books and he questions why they would mean so much to her. He steals some books and starts a collection. His boss, Beatty, constantly quotes passages from books, even though he tells Montag he hates them. Montag kills Beatty and goes on the run. He meets people outside the city who have read books, but to avoid arrest they don't have any copies, they have memorised them instead, every word.
This is one of the first and the best dystopian novels and is a must for anyone interested in the genre, both readers and writers alike.
However, it is perfectly possible for people to be full of facts, especially about science. But because, "There is nothing new under the sun", if people fail to read and expose themselves to ideas, old and new, they will be unable to reason and evaluate for themselves. In which case people can easily fall prey to believing whatever they are told, or to constructing alternative realities for themselves as has been known to happen in recent times. How can people recognise when history is repeating itself and old philosophies are in vogue again, if people have never read about them?
Equally, if people are to be truly themselves, sometimes they first need to glimpse different possibilities for themselves and the world and literature gives us the imagination to do so, so much so, that some inventions might never have happened, if science fiction had not have inspired would-be inventors.
Language - beautifully crafted with a unique and distinctive pattern of prose, real wizardry in the writing.
Key messages - about the value of individual thought and action, symbolically banned when a society that burns books; anti-war message (incredibly moving about the atomic bomb and its impact); hope and optimism, despite the fact that we never learn from our history.
Compassion - sensitive portraits of all the characters and what has shaped them.
Pace - the action draws you in, a real page-turner.
I'll say no more for fear of spoiling the plot, but this remarkable novel is bung-full of thoughts that any thinking, humane person will want to seize and remember, and it's an especially heartening read at any time that there is conflict and oppression in the world. That'll be all of the time, then.
The introduction and afterword to this edition make fascinating supplementary reading about how the novel was borne of short stories on similar themes and on the making of Ray Bradbury as a writer. (Early career: selling newspapers on street corners - doesn't that give us all hope?)
A book to keep, treasure and re-read at regular intervals to restore your faith in humanity.
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I found it very boring, dull and calculable to read.Read more