Mark's Reviews > Fahrenheit 451

Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury
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really liked it
bookshelves: good-grief-of-course-i-must-have-r, world-going-to-hell-in-a-handcart
Recommended to Mark by: Can't recall, but thanks x
Recommended for: Anyone who hasn't read it yet

What can I say ? Brilliant, truly brilliant. It is one of those books which I thought I had read but hadn't. I am pleased I have put that right.

The story, written in 1954, is a bleak and unnerving vision of a world in which literature is actively destroyed, imagination is debased and individuality is decried. Our 'hero', Guy Montag, is one of the firemen employed as the enforcers of this government sponsored outlook. The story is really of his damascene conversion from destroyer to preserver not as St Paul, blinded by an enormous light, but rather coming to realize the significance of what his own light might be in the world.

'That small motion, the white and red colour, a strange fire because if meant a different thing to him. It was not burning; it was warming...............He hadn't known fire could look this way. He had never thought in his life that it could give as well as take.'

The book is an oddly disjointed jumble of hint and glimpse. Nothing is ever fully explained or opened out and ends are left floating and untied but this seems to be the perfectly acceptable result when the book is concerned with literature and its effects. Literature, at its best, doesn't close off, end, finish, opens out, stretches, invigorates and challenges.

We accompany Montag on his journey of discovery or is that rediscovery of things forgotten and indeed the final uncovering of the way literate men and women are pushing back the repression and violence of the unnamed government, not through a mirrored violence but through the power of remembrance, a resounding echo that proclaims that the imagination will always, in the end, triumph over the sword.

The prose of Bradbury is lovely. He describes panic and fear and vicious fighting on the one hand and burgeoning hope and possibility and future on the other. He startled me with his astounding clarity and a precision of emotion because there is an oxymoronic flavour to the writing which is, at times, astounding.

Right at the end of the novel this is said:-

'And when they ask us what we're doing, you can say we're remembering. That's where we'll win in the long run. And some day we'll remember so much that we'll build the biggest goddam steam-shovel in history and dig the biggest grave of all time and shovel war in and cover it up'

Wonderful. But then Bradbury adds

'Come on now, we're going to go build a mirror-factory and put out nothing but mirrors for the next year and take a long look in them'

This reminded me of one of my favourite quotations about the power of good literature by John O'Shea.

'A good story begins as a window and ends as a mirror'

Bradbury challenged his readers back in 1954 to stay awake and guard against the dumbing down of imagination through the over-riding influence of mass media and perhaps the soporific nature of lazy thought process, reading it in 2014 it is striking how much of a challenge he is still levelling.
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Reading Progress

Started Reading
January 22, 2014 – Finished Reading
January 23, 2014 – Shelved

Comments Showing 1-7 of 7 (7 new)

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Cecily Wonderful review.

What book would you become in Montag's world?

Mark What a lovely question ?

'A Tale of two cities' probably although I might try and slip in a short story or two.
Howabout you ?

message 3: by Cecily (last edited Jan 27, 2014 03:58AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Cecily That's a good answer. You could learn to knit, as well!

I'd take all the Gormenghast books, because there's plenty to read and ponder, two whole other worlds, and they're very visual.

Mark I still have only read the first volume.....must get the rest read cos I thoroughly enjoyed that first one.

Henry Avila Terrific review,Mark. Very well thought out.

Mark Thanks Henry. its one of those books I had assumed I had read, weird really considering the context of the being about, in part, the lazy accepting of others imposed theories or opinions lol

Henry Avila If you like this book, Mark, try too the Martian Chronicles,also melancholic.But superb....

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