Powerful themes, but clumsily moralistic and over-dramatic.
Set in the future where books have been banned, and firemen’s jobs are to light fires to burn books instead of putting out fires, this book tells of Guy Montag who is a fireman. He becomes disillusioned with this state of affairs, and takes things into his own hands.
“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 blazing and burning to bring down the tatters and charcoal and charcoal ruins of history.”
“Authors, full of evil thoughts, lock up your typewriters. They did. Magazines became a nice blend of vanilla tapioca. Books, so the critics said, were dishwater. No wonder books stopped selling.”
“Everyone must leave something behind when he dies, my grandfather said. A child or a book or a painting or a house or a wall built or a pair of shoes made. Or a garden planted. Something your hand touched some way so your soul has somewhere to go when you die, and when people look at that tree or that flower you planted, you’re there.
It doesn’t matter what you do, he said, so long as you change something from the way it was before you touched it into something that’s like you after you take your hands away. The difference between the man who just cuts lawns and a real gardener is in the touching, he said. The lawn-cutter might just as well not have been there at all; the gardener will be there a lifetime.”~ Quotes from the book.
- Washington Post: ‘Fahrenheit 451,’ 50 years later, still sharply divides readers over Ray Bradbury’ American novelist and critic Christopher Isherwood once wrote in a review of Bradbury’s work that the “sheer lift and power of a truly original imagination exhilarates… His is a very great and unusual talent.” That review stood in sharp contract to science fiction author and critic Damon Knight’s assessment that Bradbury’s “imagination is mediocre; he borrows nearly all his backgrounds and props, and distorts them badly.”
- The Guardian: “Yes, it’s crude, but it’s very effective.”
Awards: 1954 winner American Academy of Arts and Letters Award in Literature and the Commonwealth Club of California Silver Medal; 1948 Prometheus “Hall of Fame” Award ; 2002 Geffen Award for Best Translated SF Book
Adaptations: A film adaptation written and directed by François Truffaut and starring Oskar Werner and Julie Christie was released in 1966; a new film adaptation directed by Ramin Bahrani and starring Michael B. Jordan, Michael Shannon, Sofia Boutella, and Lilly Singh was released in 2018 for HBO; 1984 interactive fiction computer game titled Fahrenheit 451
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