Title: Farenheit 451
Author: Ray Bradbury
On the Shelves: Fiction> Classics/Dystopian
“Guy Montag was a fireman whose job it was to start fires …
The system was simple. Everyone understood it. Books were for burning … along with the houses in which they were hidden.
Guy Montag enjoyed his job. He had been a fireman for ten years, and he had never questioned the pleasure of the midnight runs nor the joy of watching pages consumed by flames … never questioned anything until he met a seventeen-year-old girl who told him of a past when people were not afraid.
Then he met a professor who told him of a future in which people could think … and Guy Montag suddenly realized what he had to do!” (Goodreads 2014)
I read this back in 2011, and it became one of my favourite books. All I can say is if you believe you are a fan of “dystopian” novels and you’ve not read this book, you must, absolutely MUST pick this up.
“Let you alone! That’s all very well, but how can I leave myself alone? We need not to be let alone. We need to be really bothered once in a while. How long is it since you were really bothered? About something important, about something real?”
This was my first exposure to Bradbury’s writing, and how I wish this had been the other book we had studied in A Level English alongside Orwell’s 1984, and not Atwood’s A Handmaid’s Tale. Honestly. Bradbury’s world building and writing just blew me away.
The story follows a fireman, named Montag. Although he is not a “Fireman” as you and I imagine. He is not the type of “Firefighter” who answers 999 calls and rushes into burning buildings, nope. A “fireman”, in Bradbury’s world, is someone who is charged by the government with the responsibility to burn books.
The ultimate sign of oppression and control, hindering people of their own opinions and intelligence, and making sure it stays hindered by keeping them in fear of their lives and community. There are actually a couple of features in this book which are strangely Orwellian, despite “1984” coming along at a later date, which infact makes the Orwellian elements mimick Bradbury instead? Instead of books being allowed in this world, people have television. Not just regular televisions though, but entire walls of their homes are replaces with giant screens.
“The average TV commercial of sixty seconds has one hundred and twenty half-second clips in it, or one-third of a second. We bombard people with sensation. That substitutes for thinking.”
Despite having done the job for a decade, Montag never truly stopped to think about what it was he was doing, until he met his young neighbour, who openly questions- although quietly questions- why exactly it is They want to burn the books and deprive people of “meaningless” words. Surely if words were powerless, then they would have nothing to be afraid of and therefore would not need to censor it? Right?
“Do you understand now why books are hated and feared? Because they reveal the pores on the face of life. The comfortable people want only the faces of the full moon, wax, faces without pores, hairless, expressionless.”
I can’t recommend this book enough. Give it a shot, even if you aren’t sure.