It dawned on me yesterday, after scanning our bookshelf, that I had never read Fahrenheit 451. Either it wasn't included in our high-school curriculumIt dawned on me yesterday, after scanning our bookshelf, that I had never read Fahrenheit 451. Either it wasn't included in our high-school curriculum or I had dropped out before it became an assignment. I was in the middle of reading an engaging biography on Edward III but nevertheless I snatched Fahrenheit 451 from the shelf impulsively, and began to read; abandoning a very young King Edward to weep on the battlefield after the taunting of the Scots.
I loved the pace, the prose, the humanity; the book is charged with electricity or something (or perhaps it seemed that way to me after reading the short stories of Thomas Mann). I couldn't put it down, finished it before dinner was on the table. I'm glad I read it. I can see why it is an essential. And now, back to Edward ...
Here are some bits I enjoyed; jotting down to serve my memory in the future.
It was a pleasure to burn. It was a special pleasure to see things eaten, to see things blackened and changed. With the brass nozzle in his fists, with this great python spitting its venomous kerosene upon the world, the blood pounded in his head, and his hands were the hands of some amazing conductor playing all the symphonies of blazing and burning to bring down the tatters and charcoal ruins of history.
Montag grinned the fierce grin of all men singed and driven back by flame. He knew that when he returned to the firehouse, he might wink at himself, a minstrel man, burnt-corked, in the mirror. Later, going to sleep, he would feel the fiery smile still gripped by his face muscles, in the dark. It never went away, that smile, it never ever went away, as long as he remembered.
He felt his smile slide away, melt, fold over and down on itself like a tallow skin, like the stuff of a fantastic candle burning too long and now collapsing and now blown out. Darkness. He was not happy. He was not happy. He said the words to himself.
Montag slid down the brass pole. He went out to look at the city and the clouds had cleared away completely, and he lit a cigarette and came back to bend down and look at the Hound. It was like a great bee come home from some field where the honey is full of poison wildness, of insanity and nightmare, its body crammed with that overrich nectar, and now it was sleeping the evil out of itself. "Hello," whispered Montag, fascinated as always with the dead beast, the living beast.
It was a flaking three-story house in the ancient part of the city, a century old if it was a day, but like all houses it had been given a thin fireproof plastic sheath many years ago, and this preservative shell seemed to be the only thing holding it in the sky.
"Speed up the film, Montag, quick. Click. Pic, Look, Eye, Now, Flick, Here, THere, Swift, Pace, UP, Down, In, Out, Why, How, Who, What, Where, Eh? Uh! Bang! Smack! Wallop, Bing, Bong, Boom! Digest-digests, Digest-digest-digests. Politics? One column, two sentences, a headline! Then, in midair, all vanishes! Whirl man's mind around about so fast under the pumping hands of publishers, exploiters, broadcasters that the centrifuge flings off all unnecessary, time-wasting thought!"
School is shortened, discipline relaxed, philosophies, histories, languages, dropped, English and spelling gradually gradually neglected, finally almost completely ignored. Life is immediate, the job counts, pleasure lies all about after work. Why learn anything save pressing buttons, pulling switches, fitting nuts and bolts?
The front door opened slowly, Faber peered out, looking very old in the light and very fragile and very much afraid. The old man looked as if he hand not been out of the house in years. He and the white plaster walls inside were much the same. There was white in the flesh of his mouth and his cheeks and his hair was white and his eyes had faded, with white in the vague blueness there. Then his eyes touched on the book under Montag's arm and he did not look so old any more and not quite as fragile. Slowly, his fear went.
"Nobody listens any more. I can't talk to the walls because they're yelling at me. I can't talk to my wife; she listens to the walls. I just want someone to hear what I have to say. And maybe if I talk long enough it'll make sense. And I want you to teach me to understand what I read." ...more