Buggy’s Review of Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury
The system was simple. Everyone understood it. Books were for burning, along with the houses in which they were hidden.
Guy Montag was a fireman whose job it was to start fires. And he enjoyed his job. He had been a fireman for ten years, and he had never questioned the pleasure of the midnight runs or the joy of watching pages consumed by flames, never questioned anything until he met a seventeen-year-old girl who told him of a past when people were not afraid. Then Guy met a professor who told him of a future in which people could think. And Guy Montag suddenly realized what he had to do…
I liked this book and I find it ironic that a book which deals with the issue of censorship, is itself censored and challenged. Complaints against this novel have ranged from its use of language (yes there is swearing) to characters drinking/smoking and ultimately the questioning of government. Heaven forbid that a book actually depicts things that occur in real life.
What I enjoyed most about this novel was just how much it resembles life today. True, we are not a society who burns books in an attempt to repress freedom of speech and creativity, but we are a society that spends an exorbitant amount of time in front of the television watching reality programs and other mindless forms of entertainment such as video games. Ask a kitten what s/he has read recently and it’s more than likely they will stare back at you with vacant eyes and a lot of hemming and hawing. Pitiful really.
I also enjoyed the overall message about censorship. In fact, the part of the book I found the most fascinating was the coda wherein Bradbury gives a quick discussion of his dealings with the subject first hand. In his own words, “There is more than one way to burn a book. And the world is full of people running about with lit matches. Every minority…[he goes on here to list various groups]…feels it has the right, the duty to douse the kerosene, light the fuse” (Fahrenheit 451 Coda 177). And ultimately that is what it boils down to, the idea that every time someone tries to censor a piece of literature, or a movie, or what have you, they are striking the match against creativity and freedom of expression.
Unfortunately I did run into one problem that made it hard for me to really enjoy this novel and that was Bradbury’s writing style. It was extremely dry and tended towards rambling. Some of the ideas were brilliantly flushed out, but others, like the war, were simply stated with little detail whatsoever. An old tom cat professor of mine once said that in the art of writing the idea is to show the story not tell it. In this regards, I found it very challenging to picture the events taking place within the novel.
Regardless of that, this is one of those books which everyone should read at least once in their nine lives.