“It’s not books you need, it’s some the things that were once in books… The same infinite detail and awareness could be projected through the radios and the televisors but is not… Take it where you can find it… Books were only one type of receptacle where we stored a lot of things we were afraid we might forget.” Faber, in Fahrenheit 451 Recently, I had the great pleasure to read Ray Bradbury’s brilliant novella Fahrenheit 451. This is a book that deals, interestingly enough, with the subject of book burning, with implications that reach far beyond destruction of literature. In this classic dystopian tale of censorship and suppression, Bradbury follows the life and goings-on of the central protagonist, a fireman named Guy Montag. Overall, Guy enjoys his job. Burning books is quite an honor, and indeed, it’s his duty to burn the homes of those who unrepentantly hoard books, those who choose to swallow the seeds of insurrection, planting dissent and cultivating the forbidden knowledge in the deep corners of their minds. Montag unflinchingly goes about his duty, never wasting time to question, disregarding doubt and ignoring any ill-borne ideas.
All this changes when Guy meets Clarisse. She’s his new next door neighbor, she’s seventeen, and she’s crazy. Indeed, she’s quite strange, choosing to care about thing’s nobody seems to notice. Guy finds her upbeat, anomolic personality enlightening. She caused him to begin wondering. Pondering. Considering.
This marked a turning point in his life, and he begins to call into question the very nature of his existence.
Personally, I absolutely loved Bradbury’s writing style. It was ornate and heavily stylized. Powerful. Reading Bradbury’s work was like gazing into The Garden of Earthly Delights, by Bosch, but instead of feeling so insanely overwhelmed by the sheer level of detail, I felt as if I could understand everything at once, I could inhale the information and felt impelled, as if the book insisted that I keep moving.
Initially, the messages about censorship did feel a little heavy handed sometimes, but they did seem to relax as the book advanced; the book never loses its message, however.
Overall, it was quite an enjoyable read, one I can especially recommend to lovers of dystopias, lovers of books, people who love prose bordering on poetry, and essentially anybody taking in any sort of media at all. The idea of stopping ideas, stopping the free flow of information and ripping the human element out of art is a rather universally frightening idea, and it's one that Bradbury explores with bold confidence.