“It was a pleasure to burn.”
Such a fantastic way to start this novel! The last time I read this lovely story was in high school. Suffice to say that was over a year ago, give or take about 15.
Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury is a classic for a reason. Written in 1951, this is one of those books that paved the way for what would become the dystopian genre, while taking a look at society and what it might become.
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 didn’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.
When Mildred attempts suicide and Clarisse suddenly disappears, Montag begins to question everything he has ever known. He starts hiding books in his home, and when his pilfering is discovered, the fireman has to run for his life.
It was like reading the novel for the first time. I remembered the basics and what the novel represented (and that I enjoyed it), but the details in between were long lost to me. Like the Mechanical Hound? Who knew! I don’t remember it being so depressing either, but it is. And humanity, let’s all promise never to reach that point okay?
Bradbury creatively shows what the world would become if people no longer paused to enjoy the beautiful things in life, whether it be dew on grass, flowers, the moon or simple conversation (wait, is it talking about today’s society??). Whether tied to television or some other non reality, the world and people had long lost purpose, culture and ideas different from their own. I enjoyed Montag’s development as he encountered literature and the effect it had on him (one of the books he had was Ecclesiastes and how fitting right?!). Did anyone else think of Book of Eli at the end??
Another classic quote: “You always said, don’t face a problem, burn it. Well, I’ve done both. Goodbye, Captain.”
It’s shorter than I remember and I think age, wisdom and experience helped me to enjoy this classic even more the second time around. Have you read this classic before? What do you think of Bradbury’s world?