Yes, I have gone through my life, including a B.A. in English and American Studies, without ever reading Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury. Now I have, and what can I say? It’s not the worst book I have ever held in my hands but there’s no shame in going through life without having read this.
It’s about a future in which the fire department doesn’t put out fires but starts them – specifically (and only) burning books because they’re considered bad. Why are they considered bad? Because they can offend people, and someone always feels offended. Or something like this. TV is not banned though, instead it has developed into a dystopian substitute family, with TV screens covering all four walls of people’s living rooms, so you are completely immersed in the action. The action being a reproduction of a shouty, loud family, as far as I could tell. Our hero, Guy Montag, is a fireman who, over the course of the story, discovers how valuable books are and that they are worth dying for (he doesn’t die though).
I’ve heard many times in the past, and still read on the internet, that this is a book about censorship – I can see how you can interpret it this way, but I don’t really think that’s the main point here. To me, the book just screams “technology is baaaaad!” as loud as it can, from the creepy TV family to the fire station mechanical hound.
I can absolutely see why this is such a popular book for highschool classes and university readings, since it just lends itself to all kinds of interpretation of content and style. I am glad I read this book as “part of the canon” but if I hadn’t, my life would still be pretty much the same.
Title: Fahrenheit 451 Author: Ray Bradbury First published: 1953