by Ray Bradbury
“There must be something in books, something we can’t imagine, to make a woman stay in a burning house; there must be something there. You don’t stay for nothing.” ― Ray Bradbury, Fahrenheit 451
This is one of the great dystopian novels of all time, especially for true bibliophiles. In this age of Kindles and Nooks and Ipads this story seems almost nostalgic, a fifties rendition of the future that reminded me of an Orwellian world ruled by a Huxleyan culture.
It is written in an allegorical style with a fantastic background that mixes futuristic ideas within a rule-bound society where the many are ruled by videos and drugs. Bradbury is effective in creating a nightmare and an evocative story, for he is a brilliant storyteller and this, like most of his stories, has a fantastic edge.
A totalitarian regime has ordered all books to be destroyed, but one of the book burners, Guy Montag, is the only human struggling for some truth. Montag is -- for those not familiar with the story -- a fireman. His job is to set fire to books so that no one will read and consequently understand the hopelessness of reality. He is lured into reading a book by a young woman named Clarisse who tells of a world of books, thoughts, and ideas. Of course the story of Adam and Eve immediately comes to mind. But this allegory has deeper meanings. What is the role of the book and what are the limits of language? What would you do if you realized your life is devoted to the destruction of that which you love? Are you willing to engage in the search for Truth? The denouement is brilliant and the result is a book that you will never forget. Once you have seen the amazing cinematic recreation by Francois Truffaut you will have additional images to put along side those of this book, emblazoned on your mind forever. This along with The Martian Chronicles is among my favorite Bradbury and the best fantastic fiction I have read.
Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury. Simon & Schuster, 2012 (1951)