Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Fahrenheit 451...random thoughts


Fahrenheit 451. While this is only my third book by Mr. Bradbury, I just have to say that his writing is just the most exquisite I've ever read. And yes, I do love his stories, but its his writing that really blows me away.

"It was a pleasure to burn.

It was a special pleasure to see things eaten, to see things blackened and changed. With the brass nozzle in his fists, with this great python spitting its venomous kerosene upon the world, the blood pounded in his head, and his hands were the hands of some amazing conductor playing all the symphonies of the blazing and burning to bring down the tatters and charcoal ruins of history...."

Thus begins Fahrenheit 451. I could spend years trying, and still never be able to put words together in such an amazing way. But now, having said all that, I have to admit that, for the most part, I wasn't quite as captivated by the writing in this book as I was by that in either Something Wicked This Way Comes or The Halloween Tree. The reason for that may be, though I'm not sure, that this story was just more thought-provoking. While Something Wicked This Way Comes is wonderfully sinister in its own way, Fahrenheit 451 was even more terrifying because of its utter plausibility.

Guy Montag is a fireman. But the profession of fireman in this novel is far different from what it is today. Firemen in Fahrenheit 451 destroy, as opposed to preserve. And what they destroy is books. And homes that hide books. And sometimes even the people who own these books.

In the space of just a single week, Guy Montag's world is turned upside down. Though really, the seeds of this tumultuous turn-around were sown long before. Montag just hadn't realized this before meeting Clarisse, a seventeen-year-old girl who still found wonder and beauty in the world. And because she did find wonder and beauty in the world, she was considered crazy. Montag's brief talks with Clarisse awaken something inside him. Later in this life-altering week, Montag witnesses a woman choose to burn with her books as opposed to living without them. From here, his world begins spinning out of control...

As I said earlier, this book was all the more terrifying because of its plausibility. The censorship of books in this tale did not begin with the government, though it did eventually become illegal to read books. It began with apathy. With people choosing to give up books on their own. With people choosing to spend their time in rooms comprised of wall-sized screens. Do I really see this book as a prophecy of what's to come? No. I'd like to believe it couldn't really happen. But then there's a lot happening in this world that seems unfathomable.

This is Annie's and my next literature selection for school, and it should make for some interesting conversations. But as for me, I'm anxious to now dive into another book for Once Upon a Time II.


8 comments:

Rhinoa said...

I read this book not too long ago too and it made quite an impace on me. I hope it isn't prophetic, but the way things seem to be going who knows. I hope to read some more of his writing at some point.

Chris said...

This was the first Bradbury that I read last year and I found it to be so amazing that I ended up reading 3 more books by him! And I'll probably read more this year. He's just amazing, isn't he? One of those authors that you can't get enough of. This really was a terrifying book. So many of the passages were so powerful and rang true for what's going on today. He's a wise man!

Nymeth said...

I think that while it is very much possible that something like this would happen, we also have the ability to stop it before it's too late. And people like you help, Debi. People who teach their children what a joy books can be. People who read and think and share their thoughts.

I know what you mean about the writing... it's good, but, perhaps because this book has such a strong message, it's less dreamy and more straight to the point.

Kim L said...

I want to read this one, I started it a long time ago and never had time to finish. Thanks for the great review!

Melody said...

This was the first Bradbury book I read, and needless to say I am hooked from then onwards. I find this book thought-provoking as well, although I am puzzled why it was banned in the first place...

Carl V. said...

Every year I say I'm going to get to this one and yet I still haven't. I really need to though, I've heard nothing but overall good things about this book.

Jean said...

Unfortunately, my thought when I saw my first large, flat-screen TV was that Fahrenheit 451 could yet come true. I re-read this some years back when I was taking some grad classes in information sciences. Don was in 2nd grade and wanted to read it. I let him. It caused his teachers no end of consternation that I was letting him read it. That was about the time he showed up at school with his copy of (again with my blessing) The Hot Zone. That's why we have a dog named Marburg. But I ramble!

3m said...

This book was so scary! Very similar to today.