Friday, July 13, 2012

Fahrenheit 451: A Book Review

There will be NO spoilers in this review.

I recently reread Ray Bradbury's Fahrenheit 451 for the first time since I first about eight years ago. It's almost depressing that it took the passing of Bradbury combined with nerdfighter duties for me to pick up this book again in so many years, but I'm very glad I did. 

Sometimes I attempt to discourage myself from rereading books due to my never-ending list of unread books to tackle. However, I soon realize that that effort is not only futile, but foolish. I truly love rereading favorite books and re-exciting good emotions, or, in the case of Fahrenheit 451, igniting new emotions.

(photographed: Ray Bradbury's "Fahrenheit 451" on my Kindle)

Here's the book description (I cut out the last part of it because I felt it revealed far too much):

"Ray Bradbury's internationally acclaimed novel Fahrenheit 451 is a masterwork of twentieth-century literature set in a bleak, dystopian future.

Guy Montag is a fireman. In his world, where television rules and literature is on the brink of extinction, firemen start fires rather than put them out. 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 then he meets an eccentric young neighbor, Clarisse, who introduces him to a past where people don'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."

If you mention Fahrenheit 451 to almost anyone, they either remember or think of it as that dystopian book about book burning. It's all about the books. And while the story does revolve around this concept of removing the printed word that only manages to confuse the individual and result in unhappiness, the story speaks about more than just the importance of books.

There was one line said by the character Captain Beatty that went:

"If you don't want a man unhappy politically, don't give him two sides to a question to worry him; give him one. Better yet, give him none."

The books are the focal point and the tangible objects that are being taken from society, yet what they are losing is more important than anything tangible could be.

The characters who push the rules of this society seem to be going along with the saying that "ignorance is bliss." And while some instances in this story certainly prove that to be true, the people of that society are in no way blissful.

There was one particular passage that stuck with me after finishing the book, and one that I have consistently turned back to reread again and again:

"The things you are looking for are in the world, but the only way the average chap will ever see ninety-nine percent of them is in a book. Don't ask for guarantees. And don't look to be saved in any one thing, person, machine, or library. Do your own bit of saving, and if you drown, at least die knowing you were headed for shore."

There are many dystopian books out there. Fahrenheit 451, thought not my favorite follows a unique premise for it's time. If you haven't read it, give it a try. It's a quick read that manages to get you thinking.

What did I enjoy most?

I enjoyed that this novel took me away from the literal concept of book burning and to the abstract concept of ideology and that there is indeed validity in the fictional world.

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