Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury // The DYSTOPIAN of Dystopia

Thursday, 9 February 2017
Fahrenheit 451, by Ray Bradbury
Publication: October 1, 1953, by Simon and Schuster
Genre: Fiction, Classic, Dystopian
Pages: 249
Format: Paperback
Source: Borrowed
Rating: ½

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.

My Thoughts:

Listen friends: Ray Bradbury's Fahrenheit 451 seriously is the DYSTOPIAN of dystopia. Of the dystopian genre specifically. This is the book that began it all, that began the sudden influx and creation of hundreds—no thousands of dystopian novels like Divergent. I'm sure that somewhere, somehow, the topic of a deteriorating world, a somewhat 'utopian' society first originated from this story. This was, in fact, the first book that I read for my junior year English class, and it was the worst out of the six we read. I feel that my twelve-year-old self would have appreciated Bradbury's writing so much more, perhaps to the extent that I would've given this a five star rating. This isn't the right kind of book for me. I truly truly TRULY appreciate the fact that there is a big focus on books and literature (YAY) though the whole concept that Bradbury tried to get at—showing how one person rebelled against his society and was influenced by someone who saw the truth, was weak. I feel that so many books rely on the same topic or theme. Fahrenheit 451 definitely is a classic novel, as it was written during the Cold War era and was basically made to show fear, specifically nuclear fear and fear in the world when things are falling apart.

The major thing that annoyed me was the fact that this was written weirdly. I appreciate beautiful writing that incorporates a lot of imagery and whatnot, though this was written awkwardly. I felt the awkwardness as I read; I wasn't intrigued and many of my classmates weren't, either. This could have been because we were basically *forced* to read this book twice. Bradbury divvied up the protagonist, Guy Montag's story into three sections, and we had to read each section twice. Once for the actual content and understanding the story, and the second time for paying attention to themes, characterization and literary devices. Yay me. I was annoyed because I feel that the imagery I *paid attention to* was not really there for a reason. Yes, I put on my special English cap and pretended that the four walls represented the isolation of society. Yeah, I could see that, but I do not believe that Ray Bradbury wrote this novel, specifically implying that the four walls represented that. It was boring and really vague. Montag's world was the same; bland and vague, though I'm pretty sure that his novel wasn't supposed to feel that way. It did, however.

I love the concept of books and book burning. Bradbury played with the whole concept of firefighters and instead of them saving people's lives from hazardous fires, in this world, they actually start the fires. You might be thinking that I'm losing my mind or something, but honestly? They set fires to get rid of any books that people have, like the Bible for example. It's complete propaganda and censorship, and this highly reflects the issues Bradbury dealt with during the time he wrote this book. When reading this, we readers are immediately put into a situation where we are more conscious of our surroundings, or at least: I was more conscious. I realized that technology is deteriorating our society and that there is much more to life than our phones, or the computer I am using to type this up. Fahrenheit 451 has such a powerful message. I think it's always going to stick with me.

I especially loved Montag's character in the novel. You see, this middle-aged man is different from the rest of his society. For the longest time, he acted as if he fit in with everything: his job (he was a firefighter) and the technology around him. After he meets his neighbour, Clarisse, who is a young teenager who actually understands the world around her and its problems, Montag is influenced by this girl's views and realizes that he has always had it wrong: the world is imperfect. It's so interesting to see how an idea can stick in all of society's minds, and how quickly one can actually be influenced by a new idea. If you rarely read dystopian fiction, then this could certainly be for you.

Fahrenheit 451 is absolutely interesting and riveting, though it lacked some uniqueness that I haven't seen in other stories. I was bored for a big chunk of it and felt that it lacked a "WOW factor." You can easily, however, fall in love with the characters, like Montag, our protagonist, Clarisse, his neighbour and the 'villains' who make us realize that technology has the capability to influence people to the extent that they do not really feel that they have an identity. It makes me scared about what our society might turn into if we do not realize what is important in life.

What are some other 'classic' dystopian novels? What is your favourite classic novel, in general?

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