by Ray Bradbury
Ray Bradbury’s internationally acclaimed novel Fahrenheit 451 is a masterwork of twentieth-century literature set in a bleak, dystopian future.
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.
WHY I LOVE IT
Fahrenheit 451 is, I believe, Ray Bradbury’s magnum opus — not because it’s his most widely read novel, but because it somehow manages to become more relevant with each passing year. It’s a prophetic piece of literature written way ahead of its time.
Like Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?, another book on my bookshelf, Fahrenheit 451 manages to wrap deep philosophical dilemmas in a simple, digestible package. It imagines a world all but bereft of books, and rooms in which every wall is a massive television screen, where denizens are ceaselessly inundated with media, imagery, and stimuli. It’s a world full of people lacking identity and purpose. A world where the streets are silent and empty.
It’s terrifying, and perhaps that’s because it’s so possible. It’s so *probable*.
Suffice to say, I read Fahrenheit 451 at a young age, and it affected me, my world view, and my appreciation for literature in ways few books have.
It’s a treasure.