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Fahrenheit 451 - Ray Bradbury

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Author: Ray Bradbury / Genre: Sci-Fi / Fantasy

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      14.01.2013 21:42
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      A book that could change a lot of minds...

      I know a lot of the figure Ray Bradbury, and all I know of him I have learnt from this book. Through his own literary craft I feel I have gained more of the wisdom, the views, the philosophies of the man than I have of any comparable figure through quick media - television, newspaper, and the like. That is the beauty of the written word, it can be used (when produced by the right hand) to teach, to educate of things beyond the now. 'The good writers touch life often. The mediocre ones run a quick hand over her. The bad ones rape her and leave her for the flies.' - sure, it takes a good writer to reach close to perfection and have named their works' 'art', but any written information with context is better than any snap-shot factoid without. It is this very matter that Ray Bradbury lectures to his reader in Fahrenheit 451. The novel attempts to realign the masses perception of 'knowledge', and the importance of works of art (with reference to Shakespeare and others) in achieving greater intellect and awareness of the world, to think away from the immediate, quick and constant, the stuff without substance. This is so relevant to today (with new phenomena such as Facebook absorbing peoples time and [largely] teaching them nothing new), and yet the novel was written in 1953. To make matters even more impassioned, Bradbury wrote the book in 9 days, yes, 9 days. Astonishing.

      Fahrenheit 451 follows a Fireman named Guy Montag. The premise is simple: Fireman (contrary to their beginnings) start fires. They do this by spraying Kerosene and flicking a match, and all in order to destroy books. If anyone is suspected of having a single book, they're property (and occasionally their life) is scorched almost instantaneously in a great fireworks display viewed and applauded by the neighbourhood. You see, society over the years has swayed gradually and 'naturallly' (not enforced by Government or any other body) away from its previous impulsion to learn and develop, at least on an individual level. An obsession with being 'happy' - happiness, which is experienced in the present - has taken over and replaced anything and everything else. Books can make people very unhappy. They cover complex issues which encourage debate (i.e. between two or more sides), arguments, anger, unhappiness (for one or more sides) inflames. Sure, you can read of the great history of man-kind, uncover the inner workings of Earth, the wonders of the Solar System, the significance of ancient Religions, but why would you? Why concern yourself? Will it make you any happier? This is the idea Montag is beginning to question, and all because of a chance encounter with a young girl named Clarisse McClellan - an odd-ball from an odd-ball family in the city (a girl with a likeness to Luna Lovegood I found myself thinking).

      Clarisse talks differently, Montag notices. Contrary to his wife Mildred and her friends and the rest of cities inhabitants who talk only of new clothes, new 10-minute dramas, new celebrity mishaps, quick, new, quick, new things - all displayed through their 'wall TVs' in their 'Parlours' where they connect with 'The Family' (I presume this the virtual link everyone has between friends, a network, or an internet of sorts.. Remember this was written 40 years before the internet made its first appearance..) - Clarisse picks out things, she is intrigued with the world, she wants to share information and gain information, and she's not afraid of Montag or his 451 symbols. She asks him: are you happy? A question which resonates through the man until finally an answer spits out: No. Clarisse changes Montag. And when Clarisse disappears, presumed dead, something wakes up inside him, setting in motion a series of actions which Montag at first regrets, and then soon realises are necessary and positive. They lead him to a new way of thinking, a new life.

      Faber is an old man who gives encouragement and reassurance to Montag along his quest to realisation. He explains the importance of books and why they have grown to be 'hated and feared'. He explains how he was too scared in the beginning to stand out against the way things were turning. He saw but did nothing, and now was his chance to put right his wrongs. With the aid of two small 'beetle' shaped radio ear-pieces, Faber and Montag connect, giving Montag a voice to trust, and Faber an ear into the world outside his home. This relationship is the most important, the most interesting Bradbury creates. It brings about some great dialogue, allowing the writer to put forward his own views and philosophies:

      'Who has ever torn himself from the claw that encloses you when you drop a seed in a TV parlour? It grows you any shape it wishes! It is an environment as real as the world. It becomes and is the truth. Books can be beaten down with reason.' - Faber

      The war has started. Only a few times is the fresh raging of a war between America (our characters nation of residence) and another mentioned. It's kept away from the reader, as it is kept so for the cities inhabitants - they know its happening but they think little of it, they disconnect themselves from it. An ethos shared between all, 'Bad things happen, but nothing will ever happen to me, it's me!'. Not only do people think this about the war, but also about tragedy's that happen closer to home - friend's husband's suicides for instance. By being only concerned with the television (the parlour) they allow their brains to be blasted with unimportant jargon in order to relieve their conscience, to switch off their reasoning mind.

      I found Fahrenheit 451 a near-flawless read. It is in its self a work of art that can teach more than most books the importance of the written word. If there's one book I've read that I wish every other in our society would turn briefly their attention to it would be this one. That's because it teaches and inspires you to read more, and to keep reading until your as full of knowledge as time permits. The internet has expanded the availability of information to near infinite, we should use this and never relax into a 'Parlour Family' life-style where all we concern ourselves with is the short-term - neither teaching nor developing our minds in any way.

      'Don't ask for guarentees. And don't look to be saved in any one thing, person, machine, or library. Do your own bit of saving, and if you drown, at least die knowing you were headed for shore.' - Faber

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        08.01.2013 12:17
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        A complex piece of science fiction writing

        Fahrenheit 451 is a science fiction novel set in a future dystopian America written by Ray Bradbury and is classic of the genre. The books title is the alleged self-ignition point of paper and follows the story of a fireman called Guy Montag, however, in this world a fireman starts fires rather than puts them out. The fireman are employed to burn any books designated as being dangerous, ownership of a book is outlawed and discovery of a book means that the house with the book and the owner is burnt down. The book follows the travails of Montag as he starts to doubt the reason for burning books and the people who own them, he accidently reads one line from a book in which the owner self-ignites herself rather than give the books up to the flames of the firemen.

        The rest of the novel follows Montag as he starts to observe cracks in the system he was until the start of the novel so passionate to maintain. He feels sick when he smells kerosene; he worries over the state of his marriage and wonders of the need for the endless censorship of the written word which has produced a bland uninteresting literary world. Eventually the book takes an apocalyptic finale and ends with the world changed forever.

        There are clear similarities between Fahrenheit 451 and 1984, both reveal a world of censorship and repression where independent thoughts aren't desired and the government is all powerful. There are clear echoes in the recent Hunger games trilogy, again a dystopian America dominated by a media powerful government controlling the population by the media they are allowed to interact with. In this novel, we have one of the supporters of the society questioning the why and for what the government was protecting the people from. Eventually we see through Montag's eyes that the problems are the words in the books but the suppression of the books themselves, with that revelation we then see the start of rebellion and free-thinking.

        I do love a bit of dystopian parallelisms, here we have a modern America but not one we could ever recognise, an America which suppresses and controls all literary outlets and takes extreme actions to ensure the stability of the government. This is a recognisable world however we have hints that the change occurred in the recent past as Montag mentions that the grandfathers can remember a time without book burning suggesting an event 40-60 years earlier changed everything. The precise causal effects leading to the firemen, book burning is not revealed but is thought to be a process of slow change rather than a sudden change after a seismic event in America's past. So we have the suppression of the greatest books in human history, the bible has been ruthlessly mainstreamed and now gives a very different story to the one we know, Shakespeare's works have been reduced to a paragraph or a sentence rather than the full works and Dickens books are only remember for their titles.

        This is a disturbing book, Montag is depicted as going a bit mad during the telling and as everything we observe goes through him then we view a complex and diverse mind going into a place few would desire to visit. He laughs at odd things, he's happy, he's unhappy, he doesn't know what to make of the desire to own something he's been burning for years. All brilliantly told but disturbing none the less, this is only a short story in truth but it packs a punch and leaves the reader thinking that he might have missed things during the first reading.

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          29.12.2009 23:35
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          Interesting read that teaches you a good lesson

          ~~Introduction~~

          Fahrenheit 451, written by the science fiction author Ray Bradbury, was first published in 1958. It is mainly thought if as being a book criticising censorship and its consequences although Bradbury has stated that the theme he wrote the book about is the effect of television and the media on reading literature.

          ~~Characters~~

          Guy Montag- A fireman in a dystopia future where his job is to burn books rather than put out fires. He starts the story off thinking that his life is good but due to the influence of Clarisse soon begins to understand that what he does is evil and he begins to start protecting books whilst on burning missions.

          Clarisse McClellan- A neighbour of Montag who is thought strange by the authorities and other children because she does not rush through everything and goes through life slowly and absorbs the beauty and calm of nature. She makes Guy think twice about his life and helps him to discover also the beauty of nature.

          Mildred Montag- Guy Montag's wife, she seems to delight in her repetitive life of watching the television on the walls all day long but truly at heart she tires of life and subconsciously she takes too many pills by accident and almost dies.

          Captain Beatty- Beatty is Montag's fireman captain and he seems to understand what Montag is feeling and knowingly lets him have another chance at giving up collecting books. He seems to know a lot about books but uses his knowledge of them only to antagonise those who read them by using quotes from books against them.

          Faber- Faber is a former professor who was sacked when the new government took control, he looks at anguish at what is happening in the country but is too afraid to do anything about it. However at Montag's urging he helps him in a attempt to burn all of the firemen's houses to redeem his cowardice.

          ~~Plot~~

          Montag begins the book believing himself to be content with his job but is soon made to see the error of his ways by Clarisse. It is very difficult for Montag to continue working after seeing a woman die rather than be taken to prison for owning books and soon Beatty is hot on his tail. Eventually his discontent with his life and with the government lead him to turn against the system and try to destroy the Fireman organisation but will he succeed?

          ~~Themes explored (spoilers)~~

          #Belief that you are happy when truly you are not#
          Montag is shown the error of his ways by Clarisse who makes him realise that he does not really enjoy his job and shows him how to enjoy life properly. When Montag reads his wife's friends a part of a poem they start to cry and shout at him to make him stop- this shows that if they are given a taste of real beauty they realise how meaningless and petty their life is.

          #The loss of culture and emotion through the onset of new technology#

          Mildred and her friends sit at home all day long watching television and as a consequence they seem to discuss things like a lot of her friend's previous husbands being killed in the army very casually as if it is not important. Also it is shown that Mildred does not truly love her husband in the sense that she would support him if he made a mistake and is eventually the one who sells him out to the authorities. She does not seem to understand that they cannot afford a new television wall and when she discovers Montag's books she does not attempt to discover why he committed the crime or try to comfort him but just goes hysterical.

          ~~Conclusion~~

          This is a fairly interesting book to read, if only to laugh at how different the present is to what it was predicted to be in the book, as it shows you to sometimes appreciate life in the proper way and not just go along with the routines that will harm your enjoyment of life. However at times the prose may be at times hard to understand and so the book is not perfect

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            16.06.2009 16:30
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            Ray Bradbury's sci-fi masterpiece on the pleasure of books!

            FAHRENHEIT 451

            Guy Montag enjoyed his job as a fireman. He enjoyed burning houses. He enjoyed burning the books inside them. The kerosene smell that he wore like aftershave and the flicker of flames as they licked over the pages of a multitude of books he was instructed to burn was a universal delight. But for a chance encounter with Clarisse McClellan things would probably have remained this way. Yet there was something quite liberating about her oddball fascination with the natural beauty of the world, her questioning of why rather than how and actually investing time in having conversations with people, which sparked a neuron or two to awake in Guy's mind. Suddenly the realisation dawned that he was far from happy with the world around him, and the subconscious hand that had previously stowed away a book to his home was curiously aroused again. This time he would read the words contained within and with it begin a journey beyond ignorance and into a brave new world...

            Fahrenheit 451 is often referred to in the same breath as Orwell's '1984' and Huxley's 'Brave New World' but not always with quite the same vicarious authority. It's generally seen as a lesser book to the insightful political theory of Orwell's mind and the fantastical satirical world of Huxley. But whereas both of these authors used futurism to create dystopia's that were conditioned more by the issues of the world around them at the time (communism, totalitarianism, war fatigue, etc.) Ray Bradbury crafted a story with an astounding prescience that makes it as compelling a read today as it was when first published in 1953.

            A quick, concise tale at only 192 pages it dives straight into its main concept - a futuristic world that seems to have gone completely insane. Firemen no longer put out fires, they start them! Yet Bradbury does away with the communist/fascist motifs littered within his contemporaries novels and instead creates a world much more terrifying and relevant to a western audience. For sure, book burning conjures up images of goose-stepping Nazis, but rather than occupy Fahrenheit 451 with themes of brutal oppression and censorship (for which we have relatively little experience, except for what we have previously read on the likes of the Soviet Union), Bradbury settles for something much more at home - abject apathy.

            Indeed, Montag's ignorance, along with that of the future society he inhibits, is due to the fact that the masses let it happen. They wanted the fun fairs, parlour walls and fast cars and simply allowed for the written word to be extricated away from them. By placing their own happiness first, the people of Montag's world are contented with losing the ability to think for themselves. In many ways this rings true with elements of today's world. The internet, reality television (which the parlour walls superbly represent) and media manipulation, in the place of books, are all symptomatic of a supposed dumbing down process that democracies use to make their subjects unconsciously subordinate. By keeping the populace interested in things that don't really matter (like Jade Goody's Martyrdom, for example), people tend to take their eye off the things that are of real central concern. The nuclear war that is hinted in the background of Montag's world is a wonderful parallel in this instance.

            Bradbury's tale also supposes that without the institution (or occupation) of book reading, people are also more readily accepting of what is reported to them by the media. Instead of questioning and corroborating the information disseminated, individuals blindly take a range of irrelevant and unconnected factoids to be an inherent truth. It could be well argued that Bradbury's chief concerns on the importance and value of books still rings true today.

            There is, of course, much more to Fahrenheit 451 than just its prescient context. Montag's meeting with Clarisse is no different to Neo waking up in The Matrix, and it's his new found powers of thinking for himself that drive the story forward. Yet this journey is not a simple one. The love of his wife, Mildred, is at odds with this new notion of acquiring knowledge, especially as she is unprepared (and unwilling) to accept his new nature. Additionally, it's his fire chief, Captain Beatty, who holds the real key to Montag's eternal soul. Allowed to read a book, will the power of a few emotive words be enough to move Montag to ditch everything that he previously valued in life, or will he resort to his mentor's apathy and the knowledge he is destined to remain unhappy?

            It's the cut and thrust of the 'will he, won't he' torment that makes for a tense and suspenseful thriller, which sits comfortably alongside Bradbury's more considered symposium of thought. Indeed, the build up to a specific confrontation allows the book to shift gear once again in the last third, as it develops into a rip-roaring action-adventure. Compared to the likes of Orwell, it's a welcome relief that Fahrenheit 451 does not get too bogged down in any extensive political ideology. Instead, Bradbury's writing is vivacious throughout, covering relevant and interesting concepts in short shrift, but always with enough depth that few questions are left unanswered. Furthermore, the content runs its course in a swathe of memorable imagery, enjoyable prose and, even with only seven central roles, some wonderful characterisation - none more so than the description of the marvellous mechanical hound (okay, shit name, but it is a beast of exquisite description and verve).

            That Fahrenheit 451 moves swiftly between genres without jarring the pleasure of the read is one of its uppermost qualities. That it is also thoughtful, introspective and still relevant today, as all good science-fiction should seek to be makes it a highly recommended read. Forget 1984 and Brave New World for a moment, as I'm pretty sure each and every one of us has had one of those Guy Montag moments before. Perhaps when we next feel disillusioned with our place in the world, we'll happen upon a chance encounter of a copy of Fahrenheit 451 (our own Clarisse McClellan). We can then beam with delight that we haven't squandered the pleasure of reading and have maintained our own cognition in the face of eternal apathy. Fahrenheit 451 is Bradbury's masterwork and a splendid book in every sense!


            Overall - Better than 1984 and a Brave New World. There, I said it...


            The following paperback edition of the book is currently available form Amazon for £5.99.

            Author: Ray Bradbury
            Publisher: HarperVoyager (16 Aug 1993)
            RRP: £7.99 (paperback)
            Pages: 192
            ISBN: 978-0006546061

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              03.06.2009 12:59
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              A thought provoking novel that anyone who loves books should read.

              First published in 1953, Ray Bradbury's 'Fahrenheit 451' originally started life as a 25,000-word novella called 'The Fireman'. It was renamed Fahrenheit 451 (the temperature at which book-paper catches fire and burns) after the text was expanded by a further 25,000 words and became a novel.

              An interesting fact I didn't know before I read this book, was that Bradbury had difficulty getting anyone to publish his work until a young editor bought his manuscript and used it in issues two, three and four of his new magazine, that man was Hugh Hefner and that magazine was Playboy! So it seems that there may be some truth to the 'I only buy Playboy for the articles' excuse!

              The story is set in an unspecified dystopian future where society has turned its back on knowledge and intellect in pursuit of hedonistic pleasure. Our main character is Guy Montag, a fireman; in this future they are the ones who start the fires. Books are forbidden and anyone caught with one will be locked up and their homes burned. It is believed that thinking is the cause of all unhappiness and discord in the world so there are no books, magazines or newspapers, television screens fill the walls and information is broken down into sound bites.

              The story starts with Montag who has become disillusioned with this way of life, with his inability to engage with his wife who is constantly plugged into her 24hr televisional 'family' or his co workers who enjoy nothing more than letting the fire station's lethal 'Mechanical Hound' loose on small animals. He finds himself beginning to question the state of society but has no one to share his concerns with as no one cares and no one would understand.

              Although one night everything changes for Montag, who on his way home from work encounters his strange young neighbour, Clarisse. Clarisse and her family are 'different' they don't behave like everyone else, they are free thinkers and stay up late at night to talk. I don't want to give to much of the plot away but in the following days after his meeting with the free spirited Clarisse events take place that make Montag question everything he has even known.

              I finished this book in two days as I found the story totally engrossing and thought provoking; the characters are interesting, generally well rounded and believable. Bradbury has created a completely plausible scenario and considering he wrote this more than fifty years ago, I don't think it has ever been more relevant than it is now and seems to be a rather worrying glimpse into the possible future of Western civilization. As an avid reader and bookseller for a large book chain, the thought of not having books in my life is a nightmare and I found myself asking the question 'Would I stand by and let this happen?'

              Fahrenheit 451 is not your usual, predictable story of government censorship, as the people in this society have chosen not to read, so what harm is there in burning what nobody wants? But I feel it's more a cautionary tale warning us that we will end up alienating ourselves from the real world with our technology, for aren't we all in contact every day with internet 'friends' that we have never met?

              Fahrenheit 451 is available from Amazon priced £5.99

              *I've also published this review under my own name on waterstones.com*

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                21.10.2008 15:39
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                Thought provoking!

                Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury.

                The clever title refers to the temperature at which paper will burn. And why is this relevant...?

                This 'futuristic' book is set in an often cruel, hedonistic society, in which certain free-thought is not permitted through the reading of books.

                If anyone is found to be hoarding books, the book burners, or 'firemen' come round and make sure your hoard is well and truly incinerated "for the good of humanity". The hoarder is of course arrested and suitably dealt with.

                This text revolves around one such fireman, Guy Montag.

                Guy Montag, has some experiences, which include stealing a book from an old lady's house, which he is about to incinerate. The book leads him to begin thinking freely and he also begins to question this society that he lives in. Subsequently he becomes a hoarder of books.

                It would spoil the story to say anymore, but Montag flees, to where I won't say and as to why would spoil the story for you.

                This book will have you asking many questions about the value of books, but more important, all cultural texts in general. You will reconsider our current society, especially in light of the cultural climate, when the book was published (1953, a cold war and the ramp up to the counter culture revolution), in comparison to where we are now- how we now use and consume texts - how society has turned out. You will ask yourself if we are now at a stage where we are all hedonists and selfish to further degrees than decades before.

                You should get a copy of this for just over £3 (including P&P) on ebid.net's "less than a fiver" store. http://tinyurl.com/36qeoov

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                  26.10.2004 13:19
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                  When I was about 11 years old I was obsessed with reading and writing Sci-Fi. Actively encouraged to both be a avid reader and writer my English teacher at the time handed me a book to read. Telling me he thought I should read this book I took it home. Eventually over the weekend I picked the book up and started reading. I didn’t put it down!

                  Ray Bradbury outside of the US is somewhat of an underrated writer. I have rated him since my childhood, and in particular that book. Fahrenheit 451, is a book about books, a book about the burning of books. But behind it there is much more than that, as I saw in the book when I re-read it as an adult, and was even more blown away by it than when I first read it as a child. A story full of social commentary about modern society, a prediction of a future in which we now live. Up there with 1984 and Brave New World this is a book that predicted our world with scary clarity.

                  Fahrenheit 451 is the temperature at which book paper burns, and in the story Montag the central character is fireman whose job it is to burn books. This is a world were all reading material is banned, and free thinking is against the will of the state. People are kept in line with state supplied drugs and huge screen TV’s in their homes (sound familiar yet?!) There is also the Hound, the robotic sniff dog that hunts down books and their owners. The Hound symbolises the world around it. It is without emotion, without reason, overseeing / guarding a people without purpose, without thought, without desire (familiar yet?!!) Like the Hound, society is mindless, “it just functions”, as Capt. Beatty Montag’s boss says of the Hound.

                  Montag eventually comes across Clarisse, who is a free spirit, and opens Montag to the idea of thought, of dare he think it, reading! Mildred, Montag’s wife plods through life watching her wall sized TV’s, and dreams of getting the next wall filled with a huge screen, while she interacts with the soap-opera. This is a terrible world, a world were books only survive the flames by being memorised by a few. These nomadic outcasts become the books, they are referred to by the books they have memorised, they pass them down as oral history. This a world gone mad, and world turned upside down, a world in reverse.

                  A book that should be read as a book, and not seen as a film (see my film review of the 1966 version.)

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                    09.04.2002 02:07
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                    Fahrenheit 451 is a look into a future where books are condemned as dangerous and are therefore burnt. Montag is the central character in the book and is a fireman, but not in the sense we understand. Montag is paid to burn books not to stop fires, there is no need to stop house fires now anyway as all houses are fireproof. Even after you have finished reading the book, Bradbury?s horrifying version of the future hovers in the mind, to be contemplated over and over again. The story plays on fears that most people have and works them effectively. Teenagers running riot in hideously overpowered cars and pedestrians are frowned upon (as is driving at 40mph). Relationships contain no emotion, and are not expected to by Montag or anyone else, the only exception to this is Clarisse. She is labelled crazy and sent to a psychiatrist because she doesn`t go to the Fun Parks or watch the Parlour walls. Clarisse questions Montag about his profession and through the conversations with him she reveals herself to be a reader and challenges Montag to read and decide if it is such a terrible crime himself. When Montag gets home he finds that his wife, Mildred, has taken an overdose and needs to have her stomach pumped. Montag then has to burn the house of a woman who was found to have books, the one thing that`s different in this burning is that the woman is still in the house when the firemen arrive and she refuses to leave even going so far as to set fire to the kerosene soaked house herself. This has a profound affect on Montag so he steals a book and starts to read it later that night. The book frees his mind and he realises how wrong what he has been doing is, he becomes an avid reader and is torn between his duty as a fireman and his newfound understanding of books and the world around him. Montag realises how restricted and controlled everyone`s lives are. The rest of the book is about how this affects him and what he does after choosi
                    ng between his duty and his newly found mindset. The end of the book is very exciting and involves the Mechanical Hound, which is a machine that can be programmed to hunt and kill a particular person from the combination of chemicals in that person`s body, it?s a tireless stalker and escape is almost impossible. This is a very short book and a quick read, which is not surprising as it was originally made up of a collection of short stories written by Ray Bradbury, but the ideas in the book do persist in the mind for a while after reading it. I read this book in one go because I found the story very interesting and wanted to know what happened in the end. I`m not sure if the ending is supposed to be happy or not because although it did have an element of hope in it as far as the continuation of books and ideas went. But in the end Montag has lost his family and has to face the idea that the job he has been doing all his life was destroying the only thing he now lives for. Fahrenheit 451 is an interesting book, as much for the ideas behind it, as the story its self.

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                      01.03.2002 08:57
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                      Guy Montag is a fireman. His job is to burn books. Welcome to the future, where houses are fireproof and books are banned...and burned. [ At this point I must cofess to plagiarism. Those first two sentences are 'borrowed' from every other review of Fahrenheit 451 there's ever been, but it's such a good line I had to use it. ] Fahrenheit 451 was the synthesis of five short stories Ray Bradbury wrote in the early 1950's. Including "Bonfire" - about one man's thoughts on the night of the end of the world; "Bright Phoenix" about a small-town bigot whose book-burning activities are thwarted by people memorizing them; and "The Pedestrian" about a time in the future when walking is banned and pedestrians are treated like criminals - a tale based on an encounter he had with a cop in Los Angeles in 1951. Making use of a coin-operated typewriter on the UCLA campus, he rattled off "The Fireman" - which later became "Fahrenheit 451: the temperature at which book paper catches fire and burns." In 1953 Bradbury sold the story to Hugh Hefner (for $150) and it was serialized in the second, third and fourth issues of Playboy. So, as I was saying, Montag is a fireman, he smells of kerosene and his job is to burn books. But one day he meets a teenage girl called Clarisse who asks him if he is happy, and he realizes that he's not. Then when he gets home, his wife Mildred has taken an overdose of sleeping pills - something which happens a lot in this dystopic society. This book offers a subtle version of totalitarianism (more akin to Aldous Huxley's "Brave New World" than George Orwell's "1984") in which the powers-that-be control people by anaesthetizing them with wall-to-wall television - literally. Houses have parlours with television screens on all four walls, playing interactive shows. In a way it's the exact the opposite of 1984: Big Brother
                      isn't watching THEM - THEY are watching Big Brother. [ Now that WAS my line... © pje 2002 ] It's a frightening world in which kids break windows, go joy-riding and smash up cars; and where communication devices called "ear thimbles" reside in everyone's lug-holes. It's a world dominated by television and advertisements and where no-one ever reads. And, in the background, there is an ongoing war with some enemy from abroad. It doesn't bear thinking about, does it? Montag is unsettled when first Clarisse disappears, and then a woman, caught with a stash of books, chooses to go up in flames with them. During the course of his duties, he has pocketed a few books and hid them in his house, and to the horror of his wife, he starts reading them. Meanwhile, his boss (Captain Beatty) is clearly suspicious about Montag's behaviour and warns him how dangerous books are: how they all disagree with each other and are full of people who never existed... " A book is a loaded gun in the house next door. Burn it. Take the shot from the weapon. Breach man's mind. Who knows who might be the target of the well-read man? Me? I won't stomach them for a minute. [...] Give the people contests they win by remembering the words to more popular songs or the names of the state capitals or how much corn Iowa grew last year. Cram them full of non-combustible data, chock them so damned full of 'facts' they feel stuffed, but absolutely 'brilliant' with information. Then they'll feel they're thinking, they'll get a *sense* of motion without moving. And they'll be happy, because facts of that sort don't change. Don't give them any slippery stuff like philosophy or sociology to tie things up with. That way lies melancholy. " Books... you are the weakest link, goodbye! ;¬( Fahrenheit 451 is a short but profound novel, with an exciting climax i
                      nvolving an eight-legged mechanical hound programmed to hunt and kill... In 1966, François Truffaut directed a classic film version of Fahrenheit 451, starring Julie Christie, so you don't even have to read the book at all, just switch on your parlour wall televisor screen and veg out. But bear in mind what Bradbury points out in his preface - you don't HAVE to burn books if people stop reading them of their own accord... And you can always put people off books by bumping up the price too... ¶ Paperback: £4.99 ¶ ISBN: 0006546064 ¶ pp 172 ¶ 1993 ¶ ¶ Paperback: £7.99 ¶ ISBN: 0007117108 ¶ pp 172 ¶ 2001 ¶ ___________________________________________________________ ¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯

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                    • Product Details

                      First published in 1953, this is Bradbury's prophetic dystopian vision of a weird but too distant future where happiness is allocated on a four-walled TV screen, where individuals, eccentrics and scholars are outcasts of society and where books are burnt by a special task-force.