Tuesday, April 7, 2020

Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury (novel #147)

"Those who don’t build, must burn."


On the surface, Fahrenheit 451 is a about book burning.

But a bit deeper, it is…"a love letter for books." ~ Neil Gaiman in the foreword 

Bravo! Mr. Gaiman.

But I should probably include a few details. It is a dystopian world where books are banned, for If people read, they tend to think – and thinking never leads to happiness. The protagonist is fireman Guy Montag, but in this setting firemen do not put out fires, they burn books. As Fire Chief Beatty put it…
It’s fine work. Monday burn Millay, Wednesday Whitman, Friday Faulkner, burn ‘em to ashes, then burn the ashes. That’s our official slogan. 
Beatty also comments on the worthlessness of books.
…books say nothing! Nothing you can teach or believe. They’re about nonexistent people, figments of imagination, if they’re fiction. And if they’re nonfiction, it’s worse, one professor calling another an idiot, one philosopher screaming down another’s gullet. All of them running about, putting out the stars and extinguishing the sun. You come away lost.

But in spite of the Beatty’s doctrine, fireman Montag is waking up.
I don’t know. We have everything we need to be happy, but we aren’t happy. Something’s missing. I looked around. The only thing I positively knew was gone was the books I’d burned in ten or twelve years. So, I thought the books might help.

And like all dystopian novels, someone – in this case Guy Montag – must fight against the madness. Of the dystopian novels I’ve read: Nineteen Eighty-Four, Brave New World, A Clockwork Orange, I liked Fahrenheit 451 best, probably because it ends with hope.
But that’s the wonderful thing about man; he never gets so discouraged or disgusted that he gives up doing it all over again, because he knows very well it is important and worth the doing.

And Montag remembering a portion of the Revelation
And on either side of the river was there a tree of life, which bare twelve manner of fruits, and yielded her fruit every month; And the leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations.
Yes, thought Montag, that’s the one I’ll save for noon. For noon…When we reach the city.

My rating: 4 of 5 stars
 

This book satisfied square G-4, A Banned Book, in the 2020 Classic BINGO Challenge. I don’t believe this was widely or commonly banned, but nonetheless ironic, that a book of a world in which books are banned, should have been a banned book.

Oh and, 451 degrees Fahrenheit?
The combustion temperature of paper.

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6 comments:

  1. I adore this book. It's (so far) the only dystopian novel I truly love. Brilliant stuff.

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    1. Yes, it's a winner, and I always love Bradubury's writing.

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  2. I loved the idea of people memorizing the text of books so that they could be human vessels of the text. I often have trouble with Bradbury's ornate writing style but I really liked this one a lot. It was very powerful.

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    1. I need to get back to Bradury, to see if I still enjoy him as much as when I was a teen. But I think this has to be one of his very best.

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  3. This is not my favorite Bradbury -- it is a bit didactic for my taste even if the cause is a good one. The Martian Chronicles is fantastic though.

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    1. Good to know. I read a lot of Bradbury in H.S. but somehow got away from him. I need to get back.

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