Thursday, July 5, 2012

Fahrenheit 451

With the recent loss of the famous author Ray Bradbury I wanted to read Fahrenheit 451 and write a review. Confession: I've never read the book. I could spit out quotes and tell you what the novel was about but I had never read the novel. So, one morning before work I broke my personal vow not to buy anymore books (until I finish all the ones I have to read) and downloaded Fahrenheit 451 on my Kindle.

Luckily, I had a lot of commuting by train to and from work that week (for some reason, I get motion sickness when in a bus but not on a train) and devoured the book as much as I could. At times, the book was poetic, and many times it was sad. But the one thing I clearly felt was disappointment in myself, how could I have surpassed this book for so long? It was refreshing with its use of words and emotional pull and I was left breathless with creative wonder once I had completed my reading of it.

Guy Montag, a fireman whose job is to set fire to homes rather than put them out, breaks free of social expectancies and becomes a rebel in his own right. While books are burned, destroyed, and often times forgotten, television prevails and has become a driving force for creative - or lack of creative - thought in the land. Maybe the spark of breaking free from what has become the norm has always been in Montag but it's certain that when he meets a lively seventeen-year-old girl she helps him to open his eyes and look at the world from a different point of view than what is normal.

Montag begins to think and act dangerously. The books he sets out to burn he now collects, adding them to a pile that had already been growing, which is a direct threat to the established mindset of many. People are completely brainwashed by The Family, otherwise known as the televisions that play and it isn't quite so far from the present day truth. With all of the news about publishing and books dying, doesn't it seem a little accurate?

Many people proclaim this book to be strictly about censorship however Ray Bradbury was once quoted to say that it was more so about television destroying interest in literature.

“Television gives you the dates of Napoleon, but not who he was,” Bradbury says, summarizing TV’s content with a single word that he spits out as an epithet: “factoids.” As quoted from the article Ray Bradbury: Fahrenheit 451 Misinterpreted

It's easy to see how television has influenced the characters in the book but it's also very plain to see what a lack of education and reading has done to people. The book has been a topic of debate due to challenges for its banning from schools and has been listed as required reading for many high schools and colleges. Later this year I hope to write a post strictly about the challenges this book has faced during my Banned Books Week. For now? Remember a talented author and read this book (or any of his other published materials)!

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