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Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury
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Fahrenheit 451 (original 1953; edition 2001)

by Ray Bradbury

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30,12554129 (4.04)1 / 921
Zeruhur's review
In Bradbury leggiamo la denuncia sulla possibile negativa evoluzione della nostra società e purtroppo va detto che a distanza di cinquant’anni molto si è avverato. Nel mondo di Fahrenheit 451 non è stato un atto deliberato dello Stato, atto al controllo delle masse, che ha proibito l’uso del mezzo culturale. La società stessa si è posta quel tabù, cercando la semplificazione, la massificazione, nel tentativo di non creare individui infelici che si sentissero diversi, ha gradualmente abbandonato ogni forma di cultura. Lo Stato in questo scenario ha soltanto legittimato un dato di fatto, istituendo i corpi di vigili del fuoco, qui impegnati ad ardere e non a estinguere il fuoco. Si viene così a creare una dottrina dell’anti-cultura, esemplificata nella figura del capitano di Montag: i libri non vengono bruciati in quanto tali, ma per quello che contengono, riflessioni di uomini morti, storie di evasione, tutto l’universo che i libri rappresentano. Chi si avvicina alla lettura, dice il capitano in un delirio di semplificazione, si sente superiore a coloro che non leggono. Perciò la società di Fahrenheit 451 ha deciso di eliminare ogni fonte possibile di diversità, per lasciare i cittadini in una beata incoscienza, che non li rende informati neanche sull’apocalittica guerra che si svolge nelle pagine finali del romanzo.
Dall’altra parte, gli uomini-libro, coloro che hanno mandato a memoria i libri in una società che non permetteva loro di possederli, non si sentono affatto degli eletti. “Tu non sei importante” dice Granger, un uomo-libro, a Montag nelle pagine finali. Anche quando i libri esistevano, aggiunge, la gente li ha rifuggiti creando il sistema attuale. Però è importante che in qualche modo il messaggio che essi contengono venga preservato, lasciando la possibilità di essere scoperto. Quindi Fahreinheit 451 non è un mero inno all’importanza della lettura, ma un inno alla possibilità di scelta, alla libertà. ( )
  Zeruhur | May 26, 2012 |
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I had read this book years and years ago in a hotel in Salt Lake City, where the idea of burning all books, except one, of course, seemed unnervingly apt. Not long ago, I kind and generous LT member of the Folio Society Devotees got a defective version from the FS and offered her damaged copy to anyone, just for the asking, since the Society wasn't interested in getting it back. Well you're listening to the lucky winner. And what a wonderful edition! The problem with the copy is that, somehow, the pages had gotten wet and were somewhat stuck together; although with careful handling, they could be separated without consequence to the text or illustrations, other than a little unavoidable crinkling of the paper. How fitting is that? ( )
  jburlinson | Jul 26, 2014 |
In a future world where all homes are fireproof, what is left for firemen to do? Start fires and burn books. Books might lead to individualism. The state desires conformity and uses mass media to that end. A constant stream of mass media makes it difficult to cultivate an inner life. When fireman Guy Montag's unusual neighbor, 17-year-old Clarisse, opens his eyes to the world outside the influence of mass media, he begins to question his way of life. His questioning leads to a growing estrangement with his wife and ultimately endangers his life.

Some of the future that Ray Bradbury imagined in the 1950s has come to pass, like the wall-to-wall home entertainment system and electronic tracking mechanisms. However, in some ways technology has moved beyond what Bradbury imagined. The pendulum has swung back toward individualism with the proliferation of cable channels, the seemingly endless choices of streaming media on the Internet, and Google's personalized ads and search results. However, with giant corporations controlling large segments of data and the ability of governments to capture, manipulate, or block data, the pendulum may be swinging the other way again.

The audio version I listened to included an afterword by the author with his reflections on the differences between the book and his stage adaptation. He also points out the irony that a book about censorship has been edited to make it more acceptable for classroom use. ( )
  cbl_tn | Jul 17, 2014 |
In this dystopian society, set some time in the future, firemen burn books -- a contraband -- because they provoke thought and conversation of substance. Anyone, who has been reported to be in possession of books in their homes, will have their habitations razed to the ground. Read the story of one fireman who stumbles upon books, and how his views and world are subsequently changed. ( )
  MomsterBookworm | Jul 14, 2014 |
A classic worth reading again. Most of us have read this as an assignment in high school. Depending upon the quality of the teacher, we were either mildly entertained or strongly turned-off. Read it again. ( )
  JVioland | Jul 14, 2014 |
This is a classic, but reading it now put an extra layer of fear in my heart. It seems so plausible now, with our obsession with reality tv and tv in general ( )
  saradiann | Jun 29, 2014 |
I remember reading this and liking it because of the ultimate take-away, and not so much the story itself. I need to put it on the re-read list to see if my feelings change at all. ( )
  Stormydawnc | Jun 23, 2014 |
I'm not sure what to make of this book, despite its well established reputation. No doubt the basic story line is compelling- a totalitarian government that has essentially eliminated all independent thinking from its populace by book burning, mind numbing activities (particularly interesting was the interactive television concept), etc.

However, I found Bradbury's writing style at times obtuse, and personally thought the ending was simplistic. ( )
  la2bkk | Jun 14, 2014 |
I will never forget Bradbury's description of that mechanical dog. Ever. ( )
  marthaearly | Jun 6, 2014 |
I've long been a fan of Ray Bradbury, but for some reason, this book was never assigned in school and I'd never gotten around to reading it -- criminal!

Fahrenheit 451, is, of course, the temperature at which paper burns. This is a book set in the future, and firemen no longer put out fires (in fact, they scoff at the notion that firemen of that sort even existed) -- they START fires. Specifically, they burn books.

I expected a book about a land of people fighting the firemen, huge crowds of people clamoring against the burning of these books. What shocked me is Bradbury wrote of a future where people were completely content to live with trivial knowledge and floor-to-ceiling televisions -- televisions that in fact could encompass the entire four walls of a room, where a person could "interact" with insipid and fake families in soap operas.

How sad, and terrifying.


The firemen were there to keep the status quo. Sure, there were small pockets of people who saved books, but philosophy and freedom of thought was definitely NOT encouraged. This book centers around a fireman, Montag, who suffers a crisis of thought, and he starts to save books, only to be turned in by his vapid wife. He runs away, falls in with a small band of scholars who, fearful of being caught WITH books, maintain the books in their head until a day when they hope the world will come back around.

I can't imagine a world without books. I devour them, and read virtually every day. And it's no secret that I love to write, and freedom of expression is important to me. I can't imagine living in a world where this sort of thing would happen -- and yet there are countries NOW where books are burned. This very country, the US, burned books, banned books, and in some cases, books are still banned in some schools and libraries.

I admit -- some books are vile. Books about how to make bombs, for instance, are disgusting. And yet -- the slope becomes slippery awfully darned fast. That's when I believe freedom of speech on MY part comes up. If they have the right to write such things, then *I* have the right to proclaim my thoughts about them.

So I ask you -- is there an instance when you would burn a book? ( )
  limamikealpha | Jun 5, 2014 |
excellent book. thought provoking and a scary read. ( )
  rampart_movie | May 30, 2014 |
Ray Bradbury shows the reader in Fahrenheit 451 a world in which people do not only actively shun reading but also in which those with books are hunted down and burnt along with their libraries by "firemen" - firemen who start fires, not douse them. The world of mass consumerism echoes that of [b:Brave New World|5129|Brave New World|Aldous Huxley|http://d.gr-assets.com/books/1327865608s/5129.jpg|3204877] in that people have no time just to think, to be alone in their thoughts, and those that do are shunned or arrested. Guy Montag, the main character, means one such girl called Clarisse who is forced to see a psychiatrist because she asks "why" instead of "how" and focuses on nature rather than on technology. Her initial dialogue with Montag sets in motion the rest of the book as Montag struggles to be free from this dystopia he is allegedly loyal to.

Written during the era of the McCarthy trials, the book deals with the issue of censorship but also, it explores the effects mass media have on people, the alienation from society mass media induce, and how in the never-ending quest for a more simplistic positive image, a quotable sound bite, or the desire not to offend anyone at all, thought in all its forms must be supressed and along with it, books for the guard and keep our thoughts.

This is an excellent piece of dystopian literature, earning its deserved high place in the genre's pantheon and its message is still as pertinent now as when it was written. ( )
  xuebi | May 30, 2014 |
I never had to read for this for school, but I wish I had when I was younger. I found it beautiful, haunting and powerful. What bothered others--the metaphors, style, imagery et al.--is what gave the general themes and plot their power (for me). Anything I say about this book will be cast aside by many as naive ramblings by someone who has showed up late to the game... It has been picked apart by everyone for decades, from sixth graders to high school seniors; from college freshmen to retired English professors--what I think holds little weight. Still, I loved it, it means something to me and I'll remember it. ( )
  AaronKappel | May 22, 2014 |
I read this back in high school. The idea that people would voluntarily burn books was shocking to me. That was something they did in Nazi Germany. (By the way, that's the plotline of the new movie The Book Thief.) I also noticed that there was fireproofing on the buildings, so that nothing other than the books would burn. It reminded me of the neutron bomb that was invented in the late 70s, that would kill the people but leave the buildings intact. What's the point? Anyway, this was back in the late 70s-early 80s, well before the Internet and Kindle. Today, of course, they wouldn't need to actually burn books. One well-placed computer virus could do the same thing. Anyone who knows me knows I like books. I don't want to see them destroyed.

Just got the 60th anniversary edition. A lot of extras added to the novel. ( )
  jmcgarry2011 | May 9, 2014 |
(reread) A great book and I had forgotten how straightforward the story is, allowing the strength of the theme to carry the book. ( )
  rlangston | May 1, 2014 |
Although I d read plenty of Bradbury, I d never come across a copy of Fahrenheit 451 until my junior year of high school. I was told in a journalism class that it had once been banned. I was told the same thing about The Naked Ape, Soul on Ice, Huckleberry Finn. I read Fahrenheit solely to find out why it had been banned. And because it was Bradbury.[return][return]By my junior year of high school, I had a quite well developed superiority complex. For years I d felt very different from my friends. Probably starting in about 4th grade. The more I read, the more I knew that my friends didn t. I had very few friends that read as much as I did and that thought as much as I did. I was too ugly to have a girlfriend, so I didn t circulate with the social crowd. There were a few smart kids in that group but almost none in the group that I was left in. The distance grew over the years until I got to high school. By then, I was alone in the world. Or I thought I was.[return][return]In my junior year, I met another outcast who hadn t yet learned how to hide it. He was in my graphic arts class getting called names by some female socialite that he was irritating. But I could tell that he was different and that he was deliberately toying with her. I asked him later, quite frankly, Are you one of us? He knew exactly what I meant and said yes. Philip was my first real friend.[return][return]That was the age at which I read Bradbury s critique of American society. I took it as gospel. It was exactly what I wanted to hear. I stopped watching TV. I read even more some non-fiction even. I plotted with Philip on the phone for hours at a time like a girlfriend. I had a couple of girlfriends by then but that was hardly an intellectual stimulation except for maybe the effect it had on my budding ego.[return][return]We began plotting about starting an underground newspaper at school. We would use pen names and open it up for any student to contribute instead of just journalism class members. It was fun. I was Guy Montag. I wrote articles about what little politics I understood, juvenile sociology and made up gags like fake horoscopes. ( )
  mobill76 | Apr 22, 2014 |
It's a classic for a reason. Well done. ( )
  dysmonia | Apr 15, 2014 |
This better than 50 year old dystopian tale of censorship & book burning has the distinction of being on most of the world's banned book lists, as well as on the 1001 Books to Read Before You Die list. It's a classic, but nonetheless still very relevant in our own time. Guy is a Fireman, & in this world, they don't put OUT fires, they start them. They are book burners, when a society has been taken over completely by earbuds called Seashells, & interactive TV's called "parlor families" that seem to actually take the place of real flesh & blood ones. Their answer to drug overdoses is to put a snakelike tube down the stomach & flush it out, as well as recycle all of the blood in someone's body. They literally will drain the toxic blood & replace it with "clean" blood from someone else.

There are those who remember what vast knowledge books have, & the crime is to be caught READING them, not to simply own them. If you have not yet read this "should have read" classic, it's what I would classify as a quick read, because the story is so mesmerizing & disturbing that it goes very fast. ( )
  Lisa.Johnson.James | Apr 11, 2014 |
ORIGINALLY POSTED AT Fantasy Literature.

Books are dangerous. They’re full of ideas that make people think about the world, feel passion, and perhaps act out. That’s not good for society; it causes conflict, uprising, and interference with the status quo. People who read and think scare people who don’t, so most citizens have happily given up the right to decide what to think about and now let the government fill their brains with constant loud mindless entertainment. This managed input has equalized society; nobody feels inferior to anyone else and there’s no conflict anymore. Dull minds, constant entertainment, and conformity make society run smoothly.

Guy Montag works as a fireman. He burns books at night while his wife sits in her parlor and listens to inane media shows at high volume. But Clarice, the teenager next door, is different. Her family sits around and talks. They discuss things and they laugh with each other. Guy wonders what they talk about as he watches his wife talk to the strangers on TV and pop sleeping pills…

Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451 presents a possible frightening future in which intellectual pursuits and nonconformity are deemed dangerous and subversive. It’s been more than half a century since Fahrenheit 451 was published and we’ve seen censorship laws actually become looser over the years and the advent of the internet has brought on the current “information age.” But that doesn’t make Fahrenheit 451 irrelevant because it’s about much more than literary censorship. It’s about freedom of speech and individual rights. It’s about thinking for ourselves and what might happen if we let the government tell us what we can see, hear, or own.

Fahrenheit 451 resonates with me on so many levels. First of all, it’s just superbly written. I love Bradbury’s intense style which translates especially well on Blackstone Audio’s version read by Christopher Hurt. Here he describes the show that Mrs Montag watches all day:

A great thunderstorm of sound gushed from the walls. Music bombarded him at such an immense volume that his bones were almost shaken from their tendons; he felt his jaw vibrate, his eyes wobble in his head. He was a victim of concussion. When it was all over he felt like a man who had been thrown from a cliff, whirled in a centrifuge and spat out over a waterfall that fell and fell into emptiness and emptiness and never — quite — touched — bottom — never — never — quite — no not quite — touched — bottom ... and you fell so fast you didn't touch the sides either... never... quite... touched... anything.

The thunder faded. The music died.

"There," said Mildred. And it was indeed remarkable. Something had happened. Even though the people in the walls of the room had barely moved, and nothing had really been settled, you had the impression that someone had turned on a washing-machine or sucked you up in a gigantic vacuum. You drowned in music and pure cacophony. He came out of the room sweating and on the point of collapse. Behind him, Mildred sat in her chair and the voices went on again…


Second, I share Bradbury’s ardent passion for knowledge and learning. The thought of lost information, burned books, mindless entertainment, meaningless small-talk, conformity, and intellectual malaise makes my stomach twist. I don’t believe that we’re in danger of the anti-intellectualism that Bradbury posits, but still his ideas get me riled up.

Third, I’ll admit that I’m a rebel at heart. While I recognize that obeying laws and paying taxes are a necessary part of living in a well-functioning society, I feel mostly distrustful and suspicious when the government increases taxes, takes over more functions in society, tells us what to believe, and tries to revoke constitutional freedoms. In this context, Bradbury’s possible future doesn’t seem so impossible anymore.

I’m pleased that my school district assigns Fahrenheit 451 in its middle-school curriculum, though I find it a bit ironic that some publishers have edited the language to make it more “suitable” for teenagers. ( )
  Kat_Hooper | Apr 6, 2014 |
During much of my adult life, I've questioned whether I actually ever read this book as a teenager. I remember reading The Illustrated Man, and I felt certain that we were also assigned this book to read. But I couldn't ever remember the details of the plot. So recently I spotted it at the library while scouring the shelves for new reading materials, and decided to pick it up. I read it in a day while home sick from work, and I will tell you that it did not help my mood. I would say that it is very definitely a bad thing that the dystopian society Bradbury describes in this novel closely resembles actual society today. I suppose this could also be said for any number of dystopian novels written in the early to mid twentieth century. The story, while gripping and well written, depressed me to no end. And I'm still not sure if I ever read it before or not. ( )
  S.D. | Apr 5, 2014 |
I finally got around to reading this book. It sure is a classic. I loved how concise the novel was: it basically screamed "This is my point! Don't ever forget!" which is directly in line with the author's character. This type of novel is what bolsters my reluctance to mobe to ebooks... what will we lose when we surrender physical properties for digital ones that are easily manipulated and controlled? ( )
1 vote QueenAlyss | Mar 27, 2014 |
This book left me with a lot of mixed feelings and thoughts, but isn't that what a great book is supposed to do? I don't think Bradbury thought out his world completely (in a world where no one has read the Bible, would people still go on talking about Jesus Christ and God?), but it was a great book, nonetheless.

I would have to read more of his work and familiarize myself with his writing a bit more to pass judgment on his writing style. I can't tell if his method of being sometimes in his protagonist's head and sometimes out of it, and sometimes projecting into a possible future, and then coming back to the present (in terms of the novel) was a technique he used only for this book, or if it's a technique he uses in all his writing. It was something I had to adjust to while I was reading the book, but I think I managed.

If you've seen the Francois Truffaut movie, the book is very different from the movie, and it ends differently, as well. I was familiar with the movie before I read the book, and I was surprised at how different they are from each other.

I found the "Afterword" and the "Coda" and interview at the end of the book to be very useful in understanding the author and his attitude toward criticisms of his work, and censorship and political correctness. Some people might be offended. I think Mr. Bradbury raises very good points in his discussion of censorship and political correctness, both in terms of the topic of the novel, "Fahrenheit 451" and in the material at the end of the book. ( )
  harrietbrown | Mar 27, 2014 |
This book has been on my To-Read list for such a long time, and now I finally got round to reading it.
This is such a good book, I cannot even begin to tell you how much I loved the writing style, the plot, the character development.
It's a really good book, I'm so glad I picked it up this month.

Full review on my blog http://www.thebooktower.webs.com ( )
  bookish92 | Mar 20, 2014 |
This was a fantastically frightening book written in the same spirit as 1984. This a must read for lovers of dystopian tales. ( )
  khaalidah | Mar 14, 2014 |
My favorite book of all times. Terrifyingly prophetic and beautiful. I can't do it any justice by further review. ( )
  lindseyrivers | Mar 8, 2014 |
It was good but I was not jumping for joy with this book. It has a nice message but I think it's just wasn't for me. Half of the time I don't know what's happening. I felt like the book has this heavy and hot atmosphere (maybe because of all the burning) which may be effective but a bit uncomfortable for me. I did like the end though when Montag meets the other "authors". It was actually pretty sad, a world without books, having to burn a book. ( )
  krizia_lazaro | Mar 5, 2014 |
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