Kammbia1's Review of Ray Bradbury's Fahrenheit 451
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When I heard that Ray Bradbury had passed about eight days ago, I realized that I had never read any of his books. Wow, that surprised me. Well, in honor of his passing, I decided to read his most popular and enduring work, Fahrenheit 451.
“Do you know why books such as this are so important? Because they have quality. And what does the word quality mean? To me it means texture. This book has pores. It has features. This book can go under the microscope.“
“So now do you see why books are hated and feared? They show the pores in the face of life. The comfortable people want only wax moon faces, poreless, hairless, expressionless. We are living in a time when flowers are trying to live on flowers, instead of growing on good rain and black loam.”
Both of those passages were spoken by Mr. Faber, a former professor, to Guy Montag, the main character of the novel. Guy is a fireman living in a grim, dystopian society where books are outlawed and anyone caught having books gets them burned to temperature of Fahrenheit 451.
However, he discovers upon burning books that something is not right and begins to realize he may have been doing the wrong thing all along. Guy meets a few characters that confirms his suspicions and the transformation begins.
This is such a well-known novel and covered from so many angles that I have just a few observations after reading it.
Fahrenheit 451 is Ray Bradbury’s love letter to books and literature. His prose is full of poetic imagery and all sorts of literary allusions to great authors from the past. I could sense that writing this novel probably sadden him on some level and if the prophecy of this story ever came true….it could have probably broken his heart.
I must admit that the novel felt cold and distant even though it was readable and engaging. I didn’t get any warmth or connection from Guy and the other characters. It was like watching a documentary on some alien society that was destroying its own soul.
Nevertheless, the story came across as believable and frightening in its implications. Even though, we live in a multimedia/electronic age, the written word needs to be appreciated and cherished for as long as possible.
Fahrenheit 451 is an American classic and should be read at least once by all lovers of fiction.
Question: Is there another popular SF novel that you had not read before until recently like I did with Fahrenheit 451?
I'm currently working on Frankenstein, but that one is a bit of a slog.
You might also be interested in the "Characteristic works" here:
I recently read Consider Phlebas and thought it was just ok to good, but then moved onto A Player of Games and loved it. As for other popular space opera (#8 on that list), I picked up Revelation Space and enjoyed it enough to be working on Chasm City now.
Any idea why, on the Characteristic Works, I can only view 78 of the 147 works?
So far this year from the 'I should have read this years ago' SF pile I have read:
The Tenth Victim by Robert Sheckley. - which is extra surprising given that Sheckley is a favourite author. It may have just become my favourite Sheckley. Short, sharp, and brilliantly funny. Laugh out loud funny. There is one long sequence of controlled chaos that had me laughing solidly for several pages. Best book of the year so far.
A Journey to the Centre of the Earth by Jules Verne. Which was crap and would have been crap at the time. Did Verne really expect people to believe his heroes lugged a barrel containing 50 pounds (sic) of gun cotton a couple of thousand miles through underground passages, past giant dinosaurs etc on the off chance they might need it? Mind you when they did, finally, need it one guy managed to carve a whole big enough to accommodate this stuff (about the size of 25 house bricks) in solid granite in under six hours with only a crowbar.
I liked Farenheit 451, but my thought was that it was both under and overdone. I agree that in it Ray Bradbury did show his lifelong love of books and that comes through strongly. And I liked the way he played with the image of this dystopian future where firemen actually burn things like books. But when I read it I felt too little emotional resonance within me with the character.
For me the best Ray Bradbury was "A Sound Of Thunder" which is essentially the butterly effect. But I'm a sucker for time travel paradoxes.
Thanks for your response.
Is the "A Sound of Thunder" a short story by Bradbury?
It's a book of ideas rather than of character and, as I sit here typing this, listening to the noise coming from downstairs, where my wife is watching some 'Animals do the Funniest Things' piece of sound-bite, attention-span deficient TV crap, the ideas seem just as relevant today as they were.
Structurally I was impressed by the way Bradbury got over the fact that reading was still permitted but books were banned. A real failure of Truffaut's film version is that reading appears to be banned, not just books. (I can't remember whether it is explicitly stated in the film that reading is banned but there are no written words on the screen. The comics the characters read have no word bubbles, just pictures. Even the film's credits are spoken rather than appearing on title cards. It's too much of a jump for the audience to expect Montag to suddenly be able to read and understand lyric poetry from (presumed) functional illiteracy.
In the book Bradbury slips in mention of writing. The lighter has a slogan on it; there is mention of newspapers at one point. There is writing in Bradbury's imagined future. It's the books that are banned. The ideas in them. The ideas that make people question the nature of their lives.
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