Fahrenheit 451Posted: 2012/08/09
Bradbury, Ray. Fahrenheit 451. Read by Christopher Hurt. Blackstone Audio, Inc. 2005
Would someone shoot me if I said I had never read Fahrenheit 451 before? Is that something you shouldn’t admit to anyone, ever? It’s a classic. It’s probably Bradbury’s best known work. I have read I Sing the Body Electric and remember it vividly. But who doesn’t know Fahrenheit 451? I mean, come on! Who doesn’t know it? This girl. I didn’t know Fahrenheit. There. I said it. Let’s move on.
I think it goes without saying Fahrenheit 451 was, and still is, controversial. Banned even. The large misconception about Fahrenheit was that it was a commentary on censorship. Oddly enough, Bradbury’s true message is one shared by 10,000 Maniacs in their song “Candy, Everybody Wants.” Television is dulling the mind. Common courtesy and intelligent conversation is going out the window and vanishing like vapor. In Fahrenheit 451 Bradbury puts the root of all evil in the form of books; books that must be burned upon discovery. This futuristic society employs eight legged mechanical hounds who can sniff out readers and firemen who used to be firefighters but are now fire starters. They are charged with burning the houses suspected of containing books. Guy Montag is one such fire starter. He relishes everything about starting a fire. Like an arsonist he is practically gleeful using the accelerant (kerosene), joyful to be spreading the flames. He loves his job until one day two people change his life. He first meets 17 year old Clarise. Her odd views on the world teach Montag to experience his own life differently. I’m reminded of Julia Robert’s character in Pretty Woman when she teaches Richard Gere to feel the grass under his feet. But, back to Fahrenheit 451 and Montag. Then he burns the house of an elderly woman. This rebellious elderly recluse refuses to leave her home and her books. As a result Montag burns her alive. They call it “suicide” but her death has a profound “rub” on Montag. The more Montag changes the less he understands the people around him. He begins to remember other book rebels he has met in his career. Mr. Faber is one such person. Faber agrees to help Montag leave the world of firemen and enter the dangerous unknown.
The opening scene to Fahrenheit 451 sets the stage for how bizarre Montag’s world really is. The detailed description of the fire’s destruction at the hands of a fireman is surreal and disorientating. But it is a necessary introduction to the dystopia in which Montag lives. Another tactic of Bradbury is to insert a great deal of repetition. Key words are repeated almost as in a chant. To hear in as an audio book is haunting.
Favorite line, “How strange, strange to want to die so much that you let a man walk around armed and then instead of shutting up and staying alive, you go on yelling at people and making fun of them until you get them mad and then…” (p 116).
Reason read: Bradbury was born in August.
Author Fact: Ray Bradbury died in June at the age of 91. His website is fascinating however I am most excited to learn that Bradbury loved cats! Miow.
Book Trivia: Fahrenheit 451 has influenced millions becoming a radio program, several plays and an adventure game. It should be a movie.
BookLust Twist: From Book Lust in the chapter called “100 good Reads, Decade By Decade: 1950s” (p 177).