“Fahrenheit 451” by Ray Bradbury (U.S.)
One of Nicola’s 100 best books for inspiration in the 21st century!
Synopsis and Review
“Fahrenheit 451”: the temperature at which book-paper catches fire and burns
In a time in which books are forbidden, Guy Montag is a fireman. His job is to burn books, which are the source of all discord and unhappiness. But his unhappy marriage, his developing friendship with Clarisse and his natural curiosity are causing him to question the status quo. Ray Bradbury’s powerful and poetic prose combines with an uncanny insight into the potential of technology to create a prophetic account of Western civilization’s enslavement by the media, drugs and conformity that stands alongside Orwell’s “1984” and Huxley’s “Brave New World”. This special edition was published in 2004 to celebrate the 50th anniversary since its first publication and includes a new introduction by Ray Bradbury.
This book was chosen to start off the season, as its themes are book burning and censorship, as well as the dangers of apathy, conformity, and dependence. If you would like to learn more about books that are or have been challenged or banned in the U.S., we recommend you visit the web site of the American Library Association.
Although written over 50 years ago, members of the Book Club found the accuracy of the ideas in the book quite scary, a foreshadowing of our society today. They were still thinking about them well after finishing the book. Readers enjoyed the new introduction by Bradbury where he explains how the book came into being. It gave interesting insights into the writer’s process and helped the characters in the story really come to life. With only 6 main characters, readers were able to appreciate one or other of them depending on their own personal sympathies: some liked Mildred; others preferred Clarisse. Though one member felt that they didn’t always work, the use of metaphors was appreciated by most. With an average score of 9 out of 10, members highly recommend this book.
There was a damn silly bird called a Phoenix back before Christ: every few hundred years he built a pyre and burned himself up. He must have been first cousin to Man. But every time he burnt himself up he sprang out of the ashes, he got himself born all over again. And it looks like we’re doing the same thing, over and over, but we’ve got one damn thing the Phoenix never had. We know the damn silly thing we just did. We know all the damn silly things we’ve done for a thousand years, and as long as we know that and always have it around where we can see it, some day we’ll stop making the goddam funeral pyres and jumping into the middle of them. We pick up a few more people that remember, every generation.
Nicola’s Book Club reading list
Season 5 – “Censorship in the 21st Century” (Feb – Jun 2007)
“Fahrenheit 451” by Ray Bradbury (U.S.) *
“The Successor” by Ismail Kadare (Albania)
“Beyond Illusions” by Duong Thu Huong (Vietnam)
“From a Crooked Rib” by Nuruddin Farah (Somalia)
“The Zahir” by Paulo Coelho (Brazil)
* The book club favourite
In italics, Nicola’s Coup de Cœur