Friday 17 January 2014

Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury

“Stuff your eyes with wonder, he said, live as if you'd drop dead in ten seconds. See the world. It's more fantastic than any dream made or paid for in factories.”

"It was a pleasure to burn." Wow, what a great opening sentence that immediately hooks the reader; or at least that was the effect on me and I was unable to put the novel down for very long before the nagging compulsion to start reading again became almost too much to bear. I sneaked in some reading during work hours, took several "washroom breaks" and even missed my stop on the subway line home. A testament to the power of great literature--the capability to capture the reader's imagination, inspire, inform and enlighten. Ironically, the plot of this novel involves an oppressive state that is intent on the total destruction of the written word for some of those very reasons. It is easier to control a society if free-will and independent thought is marginalized.

Ray Bradbury was a true visionary. Here is another novel that has been on my radar for many years but never got around to picking up. I am ashamed to admit that it took so long to finally read this brilliant literary work. I have often praised his talents as a short-story writer but after finishing Fahrenheit 451, I can proudly declare him to be one of my favorite authors that I have had the distinguished pleasure of ever reading. He possesses such a wild imagination, overflowing with so many fascinating story-ideas and cannot be pigeon-holed into writing in the same genre or becoming anachronistic. Despite how bizarre the story may be, his works remain distinctively human--that is to say, there often exists an underlying subtext regarding various aspects of humanity and social order that keeps his ideas relevant. He always remains fresh even though some of his novels were written more than half a century ago. He is fully capable of writing some of the creepiest horror stories or can spin frightening dystopias such as this novel, which takes place in a world where firefighters no longer put out fires; rather, they are responsible for starting them with their main prerogative being to burn books. With increased dependence on technology and brain-washing by the media, most individuals are living in a fog of illusion. Doesn't this sound eerily familiar in today's technologically obsessed world?

I find that what places him far and above other writers (regardless of genre) is that he is a master story-teller and has the literary talent to back it up. Anyone can write a story but to tell a good story with purpose, style and conviction that leaves the reader shaken up and wanting more is rare. He is the type of writer that I aspire to be one day. It still saddens me to reflect on his passing, but much like in this novel, the preservation of his memory through the many literary works he has left behind will hopefully not be forgotten.

This novel is part of the Classics Club Challenge.


  1. If you haven't read Dandelion Wine, tuck it onto your reading list. It's lovely.

  2. Oh yes, I will definitely be checking this one out soon. Thanks for the recommendation Satia!