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Fahrenheit 451

Posted on: February 17, 2014

Author:  Ray Bradbury

Genre : Dystopian novel

Pages : 243 pages

Publication Year: 1953

Is Review Spoiler: No

Rating: 5 stars (out of 5)

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About book – from the Kindle edition:

Guy Montag is a book-burning fireman undergoing a crisis of faith. His wife spends all day with her television “family,” imploring Montag to work harder so that they can afford a fourth TV wall. Their dull, empty life sharply contrasts with that of his next-door neighbor Clarisse, a young girl thrilled by the ideas in books, and more interested in what she can see in the world around her than in the mindless chatter of the tube. When Clarisse disappears mysteriously, Montag is moved to make some changes, and starts hiding books in his home. Eventually, his wife turns him in, and he must answer the call to burn his secret cache of books. After fleeing to avoid arrest, Montag winds up joining an outlaw band of scholars who keep the contents of books in their heads, waiting for the time society will once again need the wisdom of literature.

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Imagine a society which doesn’t have any books – no books at all! And if you found carrying a book, you will be punished and your house along with books will be burned to ashes by fireman (not usual fireman which we have today – who extinguish fire but the fireman of Fahrenheit 451 has only one task ‘burning the books’.).

Fahrenheit 451 is the temperature that Bradbury understood to be the auto-ignition point of paper. Fahrenheit 451 is a dystopian novel by Ray Bradbury published in 1953. The book is fiction but I think it’s kind of metaphor used to describe the past events which occurred around 19th century like Nazi book burning and later Joseph Stalin’s campaign of political repression, the “Great Purge”, in which writers and poets, among many others, were arrested and often executed.

The novel presents a future American society where books are outlawed and “firemen” burn any that are found. The society is ruled by the selected individuals who rule the thoughts of people using the ‘interactive programming that dominates the living room’ called “the family” (A kind of television). The book banning didn’t happen at one – but the government banned books over the period of time when people started complaining about books; for example: when smokers complained about the books which warns them of lung cancer – those books being banned and burned. Similarly if some other group complained about poetry – poetry books are censored and burned and over the period of time the very essence of books was destroyed.

The book revolves around Guy Montag who is a “fireman” hired to burn the possessions of those who read outlawed books. One evening while returning to home from book burning he meets a teenage girl named Clarisse McClellan, whose free-thinking ideals and liberating spirit cause him to question his life and his own perceived happiness. Clarisse McClellan finally convinces Montag that he is not happy and something is missing from the society in which they are living.

While the government has made reading the books a criminal offense but what’s really disturbing is the society itself is responsible for book burning and banning of the book. Now freethinker are considered as a threat to society and ideas/creativity has been destroyed. People are now bound to home and virtual families and systemically brainwashed by government sponsored radio’s and television shows.

And what’s more disturbing is – we are moving towards Fahrenheit 451 society. How many books have been banned since mankind started putting his thoughts into books? We still hear everyday the books are getting banned/burned and some objectionable contents are being removed. We are slowly moving towards the society portrayed in Fahrenheit 451 – censorship, books banning and removing some contents from books because some XYZ grouped has objection about those contents is everyday affair today.

Hope our society will understand the values of books before it’s too late. A must read for everyone. If you haven’t read it yet, then go ahead and read it!

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2 Responses to "Fahrenheit 451"

What always scares me too is how relevant this book still is to our society. Love your review. I’ve read this book twice already, and just love that iconic first line, “It was a pleasure to burn.” Don’t you? Just showed how dreary the world had become.

Exactly – the best first line “It was a pleasure to burn.” 🙂
Glad you liked my review.

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