on 4 August 2004
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
on 14 November 2004
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.
"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.
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.
on 30 January 2006
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!
This is a book that is considered a classic of the SF/dystopian future world genre. It is always slightly awkward criticising such a 'classic' but the reader will naturally come to this with high expectations. The concept behind the story is interesting and in many ways we can see some predictive elements of the story becoming close to reality; the increasing reliance on TV and technology for mass entertainment at the expense of more cultural and intellectual pursuits. The gives the story prescience.
However, as the Afterward section by Ray Bradbury details this short novel comes from the evolution of what was originally a short story, and it very much shows. The dystopian world is never really fleshed-out, the characterisation is a bit superficial, and the catastrophic war which erupts at the finale is never explained in any detail. As such, the story is built around a single concept which seems to be incompletely explored. I'm pleased to have read it, but for me it didn't quite fulfil expectations.
on 15 January 2006
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.
on 18 November 2010
This was one of those `classics' that I had just never got round to reading before. The notion of the story is one that has seeped into the public consciousness over the last 50 years, to the extent that many who haven't read the book could give you a quick appraisal of the story. But in such instances, it is easy for Chinese whispers to miss key elements of a story. So I felt it was important to read it for myself.
The style of the book is quite straightforward which makes it very easy to read and I got through the book in a single weekend. There is nothing in the way it written that instantly makes it stand out as brilliant; the characters, though not flat, aren't exactly full of depth. There are not many great quotes or aphorisms. The real power of the story is the idea of the narrative, which is what the author has spent the most time giving flesh to.
It is a stark warning against right wing totalitarianism, where free thought is forbidden. Yet it is not a 1984 clone. There is less of a fantastical tone about it, the curtailments of freedoms were very creeping, hence being all the more believable and frightening for it. There is one flaw in it, however. Whilst it is essentially an advertisement for books and for free thought, the only books mentioned are those that are generally considered great. It might have been rather different if the remnants of the intelligentsia had been trying to memorise Mills & Boon, Jeffrey Archer or Stephanie Meyer. That minor oversight could be applied to the book itself, as it undoubtedly a classic. The author states that the story almost wrote itself, and that is evident in the book, as it has the feel of a story that had to be told, rather than anything contrived.
A must read for all who value free thought.
on 4 December 2002
Scary, thought-provoking, relevant and coming true! A society where individuals are repressed and exterminated, original thought is discouraged and the mainstream are mindless sheep who get their news, beliefs and opinions from huge television walls.
Books are illegal. Anyone believed to be in possession of a book is reported, ina very similar way to Nazi Germany. The firemen call, burning the books, the building and maybe even the person.
The notion that firemen used to put fires out is laughed at by Montag, the main character in the story. Starting with a brief encounter with an unusual (for that society) girl, Montag is slowly drawn towards the realisation that society is controlled and individual thought is essential to man's emotional survival and development.
If you buy one book, buy this one. It will chill you, scare you and make you think just how near we are to the hell Bradbury describes. Read it, remember it and then let it influence your life. The warning sings are there.
on 28 October 2014
I think the storyline itself to this book is pretty good, I liked the concepts and ideas the author was discussing. However, for me, I struggled to read this. The writing style wasn't to my tastes at all, and I felt that there wasn't enough description to go with this dystopian world. If the author is going to create a different world, then I think they need to describe it enough for a clear picture to form, yet with this I was struggling to visualise a lot of things because I felt they weren't described enough.
To me, the book felt rushed with not enough character development to explain people's behaviours and actions, which is a shame because I thought it would be a book I was really going to enjoy!