Feb 20, 11
Read in February, 2011
I think that everyone should read this book.
I've just finished it so I'm still a bit confused but certainly it has made me think, criticise and question: all the proponents of a good book.
Most know the story is about a dystopian society where book burning is the norm. Written over 50 years ago, it is a worrying insight into today's society. There is much debate about whether funding should be cut for arts subjects in favour of science at universities in the UK. Before anyone weighs into the discussion, I think they should read Fahrenheit 451; the book gives an insight into a world based on efficiency and science and which shuns the questioning and ambiguity created by books: philosophy and literature in particular. It's not pretty.
The book does not belay criticism; women are given particularly short shrift for their capacity to resist the 'bland'. Asides from Clarissa, the women in the book are seen as empty vessels and tellingly none of the women are portrayed as intellectuals or book carriers. A quick google search confirmed my suspicions that feminists don't take kindly to the book. In making men both the protectors and destroyers of culture and independent thought, Bradbury suggests that women are defenceless victims of the system. However at no point in the book does Bradbury suggest that women could also react against the system. Guy realises that his wife is seriously engulfed by the ideas of the system and towards the end he realises that this is not her fault but at no point does he think that women hold the key to their own self-empowerment., or indeed the downfall of the dystopia. Rather they are the stalwarts of the existing regime.Perhaps this is a reflection of the time of writing; women were taking a more active role in society but were still conforming to societies demands. I'm not sure I have my own thoughts clear on this yet.
Did the feminism confusion ruin the book for me? Not in the slightest. I think a book that encourages you to go forth and search out answers, or further thoughts, is the best kind of book. I defy anyone to read Fahrenheit 451 and not be intrigued to look further into the questions it raises.