Sunday, July 6, 2014

Fahrenheit 451

Whew!  This book was good, but kind of overwhelming.  Well, that's very strong, but it was definitely a grim read for the first part of the book.  So here are my thoughts about it.

Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury is one of those books that, apparently, everybody except me read in late middle school/early high school.  I managed to never pick up that book, but now I finally just did.  It's a dystopian novel written in the 1950s before dystopian novels were written en masse.  It is about a world where a select few live with all of the privileges that include walls of their houses completely converted to screens so that the people can "live" with their movie characters.  Books are burned by firemen because they encourage critical thought and keep the people from being perfectly placid.  The story is told by Guy Montag, a firefighter who suddenly starts to feel bad about burning all these books.  He meets a teenaged girl, Clarisse, who is like no other person he has ever met.  She spends time outside and thinks and mentions talking to her family instead of watching the walls, like most people.

Later, Montag is stunned when Clarisse is killed and he becomes disillusioned with his work of burning books.  Along with a team of old English professors, writers, and avid readers, he sets to work, smuggling books and saving them from the burning piles.

So first of all for the part I didn't like-The conversations between Clarisse and Montag were weirdly stilted.  Ray Bradbury's writing gift is obviously not conversations.  In fact, most of this short novella is descriptions and passive rather than active voice.  Every writer has it beat into his or her head at some point that passive voice must be actively avoided (haha).  Yet Bradbury skillfully uses passive voice without it becoming dry or poorly written.  I was impressed.

I was amazed by how much I loved this book.  It's a very dark book, but the end message (I'm not going to give away the ending to you) is one of hope and reconciliation.  Sure, great damage had been wreaked, but there was ultimate hope.  The other thing I found enjoyable about the story was how pro-books it was.  Of course, most books are "pro book", but this was was quite explicit about the need for reading in society.  As you can probably imagine, I very much appreciated this.

...And now I will stop procrastinating and work on bag packing.  I'm off for a trip that will take me away from this blog until next Sunday.  Until then, I hope you all have a lovely week.  The side bar with archives is there, as always.

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