maandag 24 november 2014

Ray Bradbury: Fahrenheit 451


This review is about one of the great Dystopian classics; Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury.
It won the American Academy of Arts and Letters Award and the Retro Hugo Award.
My copy has 159 pages.

“Guy Montag is a fireman. In his world, where television rules and literature is on the brink of extinction, firemen start fires rather than put them out. 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 then 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.
When Mildred attempts suicide and Clarisse suddenly disappears, Montag begins to question everything he has ever known. He starts hiding books in his home, and when his pilfering is discovered, the fireman has to run for his life.”

I didn’t love this novel. Not that it's bad, I just expected more of it.
The novel is strictly theme- or plotdriven. Every scene and character has a function. It is too straight-forward for my tastes.
I did love the characters and the story. The story is wonderful. It’s fast, unsettling, realistic and absorbing. Guy starts out as a gullible slave to the system. But things happen and he grows into someone else, he grows into a new role.
The prose is a bit tricky but once you get used to the paradoxes about living while being mind-dead etc. it is a good novel.

I could go on and one about the themes and the messages in this novel, but I won’t, I’ll be quick.
To me, this novel is about the dangers of conformity, the importance of real knowledge instead of biased knowledge fed to us. How changes can be man-made instead of ordered by the government. About censorship, suppressing individualism and the consequences of too much stimulation.

Happy reading.