Classics Club: Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury (1953)

Friday, April 23, 2021

Read for The Classics Club. You can find my reading list HERE

Fahrenheit 451 . . . the temperature at which books burn. 

I seem to drag Fahrenheit 451 out of the old bookshelf every 7 years or so for a re-read, forgetting many of the book's details in the years in-between. The story always surprises and terrifies me, even more so with this particular re-read due to the current infestation of "cancel culture" and self-imposed "censorship" in my society.

And before anyone asks what I mean by censorship, know that I am NOT in favor of letting sex and violence run wild in the streets (and on our screens). Ironically, sex and violence seem to be the only thing NOT censored anymore. I don't mean permitting and encouraging and praising every kind of depravity. I hope and pray that there is still moral decency left in mankind, although it's dwindling fast. And it will dwindle faster if the brakes aren't applied quick.

No, when I say that I hate censorship, I mean that I hate when only one side of an argument is allowed to be presented. Freedom and liberty is the ability, no, the permission given, to present both sides of an argument or a theory. Where the pros and cons to a topic are given equal talking time without having one side shouted or "canceled" out of existence by the opponent. The canceling what we don't want to hear or throwing modern "morality" in the faces of historic authors/public figures is what I hate the most. You like spitting on your ancestors and their mistakes with your hypocrisy and judgment? Wait 100 or 200 years into the future and see how you like your descendants spitting on you because you weren't clairvoyant enough to suit them.

Off the soapbox and on to the book.

Dystopian stories are almost NEVER happy ones.

Doesn't that strike you as odd? 

They're always tragedies where the world has gone insane due to one group's mismanagement or increase in political power that always strikes down freedom of thought, speech, religion, etc. Our poor fireman, Guy Montag, can't even remember where he met his wife, at least, not until the end of the book. He gets up at night, goes to work, drives with the other firemen to wherever an individual has been reported to own books, burns their home down, and returns to the firehouse to wait for another report. He goes home, wondering if his wife will have overdosed on sleep aids again and need her stomach pumped, then lies in his bed, separate from his wife's, and listens to the not so silent stillness that is broken by the seashells in her ears constantly pumping in data, data, data to her overstimulated mind.

And the books, always the books. Before he even knew it, he'd snatched a couple, and then more, and more besides until there's a tidy little hoard in the heating vent just waiting to catch him up. There's Clarice the girl next door who still looks up and around at the world and whose family still sits on their front porch laughing and conversing. She wakes him up, this 17-year-old kid, and once Montag is awake there is no returning, not even at the command of his fire captain, Beatty, or the desperate pleas of his wife, Mildred. He has one old professor, Faber, on his side at the end of all things.

The war begins, Montag against Beatty, a desperate flight for his life, a real war that wipes out towns, and the promise that maybe someday the world can return to a place of respect where history and stories aren't rewritten just because they're inconvenient or might hurt somebody's feelings.

The book itself is not a quick read for me, despite being less than 200 pages. 

I spent maybe 3 weeks reading it, 10 or so pages snatched here and there, until I finally blazed through the final 30 pages, including the afterword and the coda. If you've never picked up a copy with those letters to the general idiotic public and publishing houses, then you should find one. They're worth reading because Bradbury literally didn't give a damn about censorship or that he might offend somebody. He was who he was and he wrote what he wrote, and anybody who didn't like it can go write their own stories instead of trying to mess with his. Or they can go boil their heads, he definitely gave that impression too.

Everyone should read this book. I don't care if you like it or not. Fahrenheit 451 is a book that MUST be read.

"Frightening in its implications . . . Mr. Bradbury's account of this insane world, which bears many alarming resemblances to our own, is fascinating."  - The New York Times

Favorite Quotes from Fahrenheit 451

"You're afraid of making mistakes. Don't be. Mistakes can be profited by. Man, when I was younger I shoved my ignorance in people's faces. They beat me with sticks. By the time I was forty my blunt instrument had been honed to a fine cutting point for me. If you hide your ignorance, no one will hit you and you'll never learn." - Faber, Fahrenheit 451

"Remember that the Captain belongs to the most dangerous enemy to truth and freedom, the solid unmoving cattle of the majority. Oh God, the terrible tyranny of the majority." - Faber, Fahrenheit 451

"There was a silly damn bird called a phoenix back before Christ, every few hundred years he built a pyre and burn himself up. He must have been first cousin to Man. But every time he burnt himself up he sprang out of the ashes, he got himself born all over again. And it looks like we're doing the same thing, over and over, but we've got one damn thing the phoenix never had. We know the damn silly thing we just did. We know all the damn silly things we've done for a thousand years and as long as we know that and always have it around where we can see it, someday we'll stop making the goddamn funeral pyres and jumping in the middle of them. We pick up a few more people that remember every generation." - Granger, Fahrenheit 451

"Someday we'll remember so much that we'll build the biggest goddamn steamshovel in history and dig the biggest grave of all time and shove war in and cover it up." - Granger, Fahrenheit 451


  1. I need to read this. I really love Bradbury's writing style and that he didn't care if he was offending people. Sounds like such a good book.

    1. It is a very, very good book. And it was a very timely re-read. I like Bradbury's style a lot too. I'm also fond of Something Wicked This Way Comes. I need to read Dandelion Wine. I've never gotten around to that one.


Thank you for your kind comments, which I adore!