Sunday, February 15, 2009

Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury (18/81)

Category: Dystopia

Guy Montag is a fireman, but in this vision of the future, firemen don't put out fires, they start them. Their job is to burn books, which are now illegal, being blamed for causing unrest in a population discouraged from thinking. After meeting a free-spirited young neighbour, Guy begins to question his life and work.

As an avid reader, I found the idea of a world without books an appauling, chilling prospect, so I was fascinated by the premise of this book. Unfortunately I did not feel that the book itself delivered on the promise. It is quite a short book, more of a novella, but apparently it was fleshed out from an even shorter original. Still at this length, I felt it lacked depth, both in the characters it portrayed (who never quite seemed real to me, just types to convey the story) and in the society which didn't seem as fully realised as the dystopia of Brave New World. Perhaps it did suffer in comparison in my mind to Brave New World as I loved that so much. I thought this seemed rather dated now, not so much in the dystopian vision which still has resonance, but in the writing.

I read the 50th anniversary edition which contained an introduction and afterword by the author that explained the genesis of the book, coming from several short stories he had written, which made me think that they might have been more interesting or this would have been better kept as a short story.

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