Monday 23 February 2015

Review: Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury

Title: Fahrenheit 451
Author: Ray Bradbury
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Pages: 249
Release Date: 1953
Series: -
Where I Got It: Online bookstore

Sixty years after it's publication, Ray Bradbury's internationally acclaimed novel Fahrenheit 451 stands as a classic of world literature set in a bleak, dystopian future. Today it's message has grown more relevant than ever before.

Guy Montag is a fireman. 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 when 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, Montag begins to question everything he has ever known.

The sixtieth-anniversary edition commemorates Ray Bradbury's masterpiece with a new introduction by Neil Gaiman; personal essays on the genesis of the novel by the author; a wealth of critical essays and reviews by Nelson Algren, Harold Bloom, Margaret Atwood, and others; rare manuscript pages and sketches from Ray Bradbury's personal archive; and much more. Here, at last, is the definitive edition of a classic of world literature.

American novelist, short story writer, essayist, playwright, screenwriter and poet, was born August 22, 1920 in Waukegan, Illinois. He graduated from a Los Angeles high school in 1938. Although his formal education ended there, h
e became a "student of life," selling newspapers on L.A. street corners from 1938 to 1942, spending his nights in the public library and his days at the typewriter. He became a full-time writer in 1943, and contributed numerous short stories to periodicals before publishing a collection of them, Dark Carnival, in 1947. 

His reputation as a writer of courage and vision was established with the publication of The Martian Chroniclesin 1950, which describes the first attempts of Earth people to conquer and colonize Mars, and the unintended consequences. Next came The Illustrated Man and then, in 1953, Fahrenheit 451, which many consider to be Bradbury's masterpiece, a scathing indictment of censorship set in a future world where the written word is forbidden. In an attempt to salvage their history and culture, a group of rebels memorize entire works of literature and philosophy as their books are burned by the totalitarian state. Other works include The October Country, Dandelion Wine, A Medicine for Melancholy, Something Wicked This Way Comes, I Sing the Body Electric!, Quicker Than the Eye, and Driving Blind. In all, Bradbury has published more than thirty books, close to 600 short stories, and numerous poems, essays, and plays. His short stories have appeared in more than 1,000 school curriculum "recommended reading" anthologies. 

Ray Bradbury's work has been included in four Best American Short Story collections. He has been awarded the O. Henry Memorial Award, the Benjamin Franklin Award, the World Fantasy Award for Lifetime Achievement, the Grand Master Award from the Science Fiction Writers of America, the PEN Center USA West Lifetime Achievement Award, among others. In November 2000, the National Book Foundation Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters was conferred upon Mr. Bradbury at the 2000 National Book Awards Ceremony in New York City. 

Ray Bradbury has never confined his vision to the purely literary. He has been nominated for an Academy Award (for his animated film Icarus Montgolfier Wright), and has won an Emmy Award (for his teleplay of The Halloween Tree). He adapted sixty-five of his stories for television's Ray Bradbury Theater. He was the creative consultant on the United States Pavilion at the 1964 New York World's Fair. In 1982 he created the interior metaphors for the Spaceship Earth display at Epcot Center, Disney World, and later contributed to the conception of the Orbitron space ride at Euro-Disney, France. 

Married since 1947, Mr. Bradbury and his wife Maggie lived in Los Angeles with their numerous cats. Together, they raised four daughters and had eight grandchildren. Sadly, Maggie passed away in November of 2003. 

On the occasion of his 80th birthday in August 2000, Bradbury said, "The great fun in my life has been getting up every morning and rushing to the typewriter because some new idea has hit me. The feeling I have every day is very much the same as it was when I was twelve. In any event, here I am, eighty years old, feeling no different, full of a great sense of joy, and glad for the long life that has been allowed me. I have good plans for the next ten or twenty years, and I hope you'll come along."


Unlike common belief, this book was actually a good one. And must I say, scary. Not just the fact that it is from 60 years ago, but the fact that Ray Bradbury had many of the gadgets narrowed down to a T. Earbuds? The shells. 4-screen TV? The curve TV. Digital age? Our age. The only inconsistency is the fact that you must burn books. That seems to be one of the few things out society doesn't do. Almost every other person I've talked to about this novel said there was no explanation as to why you must burn books. But there is; that tiny little piece of information from Montag's boss: it caused controversy.

Honestly, I've never been one for the digital age. In classes and work, I still write on pen and paper (shocking, I know). As I read this book, it made me so sad to realize that this is the world I'm living in. Not necessarily every part of it, but a big part of it. And that really upset me. I may be the only person to say this, but I don't have facebook. Twitter. Instagram. Vine. None of that social media crap used to waste all of your time when youthink there is nothing more for you to do. 

I read. Yup, I said it. It may be a foreign word to some of you, it may be a word many of you can get comfortable with, but I read. Like I read this book.

For those of you not acquainted with this part of the world, my first thought it to ask you why you are reading my review? My next question is have you read this book? The many people I tried to discuss this with said that they decided to read SparkNotes instead, or just watch the movie. See! This is the stuff this important book is trying to tell you. You went online to read the SparkNotes edition or watched the movie. That is the message this very book in front of you is trying to convey. You used the digital age to get this message. Many years ago, you'd actually have to read the book to know what is going on.

Remember in the beginning of the review, I said this book is scary. Ray Bradbury predicted it. This is what has come of our world and if we continue to use SparkNotes and watching movies, then what will be the point of books? Us booklovers will just continue to try to get all you others who do not enjoy reading to read and it will cause controversy between the two.

An amazing novel that I couldn't put down. It will be one that will not be forgotten.

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