James's Reviews > Fahrenheit 451

Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury
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Feb 09, 12

bookshelves: science-fiction, read-in-2012, read-in-teenties
Read from February 06 to 08, 2012

Classic dystopian future speculative fiction novel from one of the greats. Bradbury's Fahrenheit 451 tells the story of a future where society is so 'dumbed down' that people spend all their leisure time at home interacting with their 'family' - a sort of online socialising through television walls. Deep, thoughtful prose - fiction, philosophy, poetry etc. all scare people. They don't want to be challenged, to think for themselves or to question. So, instead, firemen are employed to burn all books. To hunt out criminals who are reading or storing books. To burn the books. To burn the house that held the books.

A sort of Gestapo, the firemen seemed widely feared. But Guy, a fireman, starts to question the whole set up. Didn't firemen used to put out fires instead of starting them? Before long he's hoarding his own books and associating with the most dangerous of dissidents - former academics.

Of course it's a great book, Bradbury had a lot of practice. This edition has an introduction that explains the history of the novel, from a couple of short stories that morphed into a novella which was rewritten as Fahrenheit 451. The repeated reworking shows as the ideas are very strong and well developed. Even with the final rewrite to extend the shorter story to this version it feels far from wordy. Nothing feels wasted at all. Unfortunately, this kinda tails off at the very end, where Guy Montag seems to wander into a completely different novel about the perils of atomic warfare rather than what was originally an excellent novel about the perils of book burning...
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02/06/2012 page 72
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Cecily The atomic warfare bit is strange, but I love the passion and hope of the ending.


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