Guy Montag is a fireman. In his world, where television rules and literature is on the brink of extinction, firemen start fires rather than put them out. His job is to destroy the most illegal of commodities, the printed book, along with the houses in which they are hidden.
Montag never questions the destruction and ruin his actions produce, returning each day to his bland life and wife, Mildred, who spends all day with her television “family.” But then he meets an eccentric young neighbor, Clarisse, who introduces him to a past where people didn’t live in fear and to a present where one sees the world through the ideas in books instead of the mindless chatter of television.
When Mildred attempts suicide and Clarisse suddenly disappears, Montag begins to question everything he has ever known. He starts hiding books in his home, and when his pilfering is discovered, the fireman has to run for his life.
Topics: Dark, Urban, Speculative Fiction, Allegory, Poetic, Ominous, Dystopia, Censorship, Totalitarianism, Television, Escaping Oppression, Firefighters, Social Change, American Author, Symbolism, and Rebellion
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I did not like the style of writing.
I did not like the main character - he was weird and crazy and his action were not logical.
If this book was not short, I would have probably given up.
The only thing I liked is the character Captain Beatty, he was a very good villain.
Idea for a book was not bad but with digital books today, totally destroying all copies of some books seems nearly impossible.more
His own message, that tv rots the brain and ruins everything is... only true in excess. I watched plenty of tv as a kid; I don't watch much at all now. I'd rather read the book than watch the series, most of the time. But there's some good stuff on the tv, in the same way that there's only a certain amount of the available reading material that's good. Consuming tv and consuming written literature aren't mutually exclusive, any more than reading comics means you can't read War and Peace.
Still, there's a truth in it.
I think my favourite part of Fahrenheit 451 is the end, the way in which everyone has their own book to save, and does so.more
The beginning felt very dreamy to me as Montag, a fireman of the future, meets Clarisse. She is his neighbor and talks about a time when there was community and a sharing of ideas. I kept thinking that Clarisse was a figment of Montag's imagination, as I couldn't imagine that she would have been allowed to exist for so long in their modern society. Her question to Montag as to whether he was happy was profound; how often do any of us ask that question?
In the future, Montag is a fireman who burns books, not for their physical properties but because of the ideas they carry within. Bradbury was brilliant in predicting some of the sameness that we depend on for comfort and the way that television and social media have disconnected our relationships while bringing us *closer*. Not counting Goodreads of course! Riding on a subway this past weekend, I thought about how good we have all become at ignoring everything and everyone around us, even the absurd or disturbing. This disconnectedness can be worrisome.
Once Montag's mind is opened to this question, his life and belief system changes rapidly. His path to his own understanding meets with the past in Faber ( a former professor) and in the future with Granger (the leader of book memorizing exiles).
Overall a great book and a future re-read.more
Its protagonist, Montag, lacks any character; he changes as Bradbury's shitty story requires him to, from the dumbest kid on the world (his cousin once offered to pay him a dime to fill a sieve with sand and he sat there for ages crying and dumping sand into it - I understand that's a metaphor, but it's a metaphor for a moron) to a mastermind (telling Faber how to throw the Hound off his scent). You ever see film of someone skipping a pebble in reverse? Me neither, but I bet it's like this: plop plop skip skip wtf?
Each other character exists solely to advance the plot. There's the hot underage Manic Pixie Dream Girl - "her face fragile milk crystal" - who teaches him how to smell dandelions (and whose beauty is harped on endlessly) and then disappears off-stage; Faber, who's all of a sudden like best friends and then disappears off-stage; the bonfire circle of retired professors who happen to be right there when he stumbles out of a river looking for them.
There's his wife - "thin as a praying mantis from dieting, and her flesh like white bacon." He seems to loathe her, and all real women.
"Millie? Does the White Clown love you?"
"Millie, does - " He licked his lips. "Does your 'family' [TV entertainment] love you, love you very much, love you with all their heart and soul, Millie?"
He felt her blinking slowly at the back of his neck. "Why'd you ask a silly question like that?"There's a real conservative streak to this book. It looks backwards, as conservatives do. Bradbury blames his world's disgust with books on "minorities," what we nowadays call "special interest groups":
"Colored people don't like Little Black Sambo. Burn it. White people don't feel good about Uncle Tom's Cabin. Burn it."These are the only specific examples given during Captain Beatty's central speech about why literature has been banned.
There are some nice moments here. A disturbed and immature but intelligent kid flailing around will hit a few marks. The central idea? No, no props for that; book-burning was invented centuries ago. But the moment when the TV instructs all citizens to open their doors and look for Montag, that's nice. And the suicidal Captain Beatty is the book's only living character, although his speech is littered with what I swear are just random quotes. I even like the idea of a circle of book-readers, each responsible for remembering a certain book - but it's dealt with so lamely here. "We've invented ways for you to remember everything you've ever read, so it's no problem." Well, in that case I got like half the Canon, y'all can go home. Losers. Wouldn't it be cooler if these people had to work for it?
Point is, those little flashes of competence are so overwhelmed by terrible philosophy and so ill-sketched themselves that I have no idea how this book has escaped the bonfire of apathy, the worst and most blameless fire of all. It's just a lame, lame book.
I wouldn't burn this or any book. But I'll do worse: I'll forget all about it.more
I know it's utter blasphemy to only score this genre classic as merely ok, but it's been proven yet again that however marvelous I may find his short stories, bradbury's novels just leave me cold (no flaming pun intended). a future where all the damned "minorities and womens' libbers" have mucked it up for the rest of us somehow comes off vaguely uncomfortably as an old reactionary's response to our overly politically correct world, rather than the subversive call to arms I think it's supposed to be. all women are housewives, nobody cares about anything yet no one will just quit their crappy jobs, and the mysteriously well-read villain is infinitely more interesting than a protagonist that repeatedly tells everyone just how stupid he is. there is of course plenty of fantastic ideas in here (and here's where the blasphemy takes off), and I just wish someone would write a jazz riff on fahrenheit 451. take the bones of these great ideas and reflesh them in something more profound, or even just more up to date, and make it relevant again to the reality tv and instant gratification world.more
Despite the above, it still is an entertaining and chilling book that is worth a read. It's short enough not to overstay its welcome.more
For such a short book, there is an incredible amount of material to think about, discuss and analyze. While it is unlikely that books will be banned in the near future, "political correctness" and censorship is alive and well and will only get worse as media increasingly represents the interests of the corporate elite and literature is simplified and edited of anything that may be considered "offensive."more
And I was glad I did. While the same basic backbone existed in both stories, Fahrenheit 451 shaped up to be a much better story. First of all, to its credit, it wasn't any longer than it needed to be. It's a very short novel, and before I got to the point where eye rolls were a plenty, it was over. Secondly, the writing was far superior. Bradbury's word choice was fresh. I never felt bored with his prose. No, the story didn't pull me in, but Bradbury's words did (an immense step up from Orwell). Third, the characters were a little more interesting, a little more rounded. Could they have been better written? Yes, but part of this may have been a consequence of keeping the story short.
In the end, I wasn't impressed with Fahrenheit 451, but I will consider returning to Bradbury. Orwell's people on the other hand are going to have to work hard to earn my time again. Am I letting my feelings for 1984 weigh too heavily on my reading of Fahrenheit 451? Likely; however, it was such a significant thought in my mind as I read that it would feel unnatural, perhaps dishonest to not mention it in my review.
So consider this what you want: a review of Fahrenheit 451? or 1984? a critical response to dystopian fiction? the ramblings of a madman? Call it what you want, and I'll do the same, but in the end, we both know it's two sides of the same coin. ;)more