Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury: “…burn ’em to ashes, then burn the ashes.”

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For a Science Fiction book written 66 years ago, Fahrenheit 451 has an astonishing amount of relevance for today. The people do not have living rooms, they have TV parlors, where they are inundated with sound to such an extent that they cannot converse, or think, or imagine for themselves. Their ears are stopped up with tiny Seashells streaming constant noise; their eyes are blank, reflecting what lies behind them: emptiness.

This book reminds me of The Stepford Wives, where women were controlled by their husbands, only this time the people are controlled by the government. It is a government which lies, and covers up to hides its mistakes, all in order to save face just as Hillary Clinton still does today regarding Benghazi. People believe what they are told to believe because they are not able to think for themselves.

Guy Montag decides he will not burn books any longer. Instead, he turns liquid fire on Captain Beatty, and then manages to escape the Mechanical Hound which is set to seek and destroy him. He finds a ragged group of men around their own campfire, a fire from which surely a Phoenix will rise, for these men know that together they are stronger than individuals who can merely rage. They have taken it upon themselves to memorize the written word, from Thoreau’s Walden to the Magna Carta, the Constitution, and Ecclesiastes.

A warning comes from Granger, which we would do well to heed:

“And hold onto one thought: You’re not important. You’re not anything. Some day the load we’re carrying with us may help someone. But even when we had the books on hand, a long time ago, we didn’t use what we got out of them. We went right on insulting the dead. We went right on spitting in the graves of all the poor ones who died before us. We’re going to meet a lot of lonely people in the next week and the next month and the next year. And when they ask us what we’re doing, you can say, We’re remembering. That’s where we’ll win out in the long run. And some day we’ll remember so much that we’ll build the biggest goddam steamshovel in history and dig the biggest grave of all time and shove war in and cover it up. Come on now, we’re going to go build a mirror factory first and put out nothing but mirrors for the next year and take a long look in them.”

I can’t imagine a better time to look in the mirror than right now.

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27 thoughts on “Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury: “…burn ’em to ashes, then burn the ashes.””

    1. I am shocked at how relevant this is today! Here we have a presidential candidate lying about what she knew in terms of an attack on US citizens in Benghazi, as well as being (hopefully) prosecuted for using private emails regarding matters of the country. One would think that was the fiction novel, not Bradbury’s! He hits our events spot on with his thoughts on a deceptive government, as well as the power which technology has taken over our minds. If only more people would fill their minds with books, as we do.

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    1. I’m glad you could sense how strongly I feel, which is about as upset as any book has made me lately. i can’t believe the state of affairs in our country right now. If any one took an objective stance, and really wrote about what is going on, it would read like a science fiction novel itself.

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  1. I haven’t read this clasdic, maybe now it is the time 🙂 As for politics, won’t you vote for Hilary?

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    1. It is really difficult to choose for whom to vote, but I absolutely cannot support a woman who lies and lives a life of deceit. There are many other things she does which upset me, but this is not the place to take a full blown political stance. It seems both the UK and the US are in a world of hurt right now.

      As for the classic novel, I’d love to read your thoughts. Especially from your Romanian perspective.

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      1. I guess there are a lot of things I am not aware of but I myself have previously chosen between two ‘bads’ the least annoying….

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        1. I read a statistic that not since 1984, when such records began, have there been two more unpopular candidates. It seems neither side wishes the candidate they have, and the American public is forced to decide who will be the lesser of two evils. Great. Democracy at work.

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  2. I haven’t read this book, but I’ve heard a lot of good things about it. You know, I also need to read Thoreau! Remembering where we came from is very important.

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    1. I haven’t read Thoreau in ages, and I agree with you about how important it is to remember from whence we came. Not to mention the thoughts of the really great writers, philosophers and theologians.

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  3. This is one of my favorite books to reread year after year 😉 IT is so relevant. I hadn’t really thought of it in terms of government–but I think you’re right. I always saw it as commercialization or materialism or something like that. But someone is shaping the messages coming into their ears and eyes.

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    1. To me, it is more about government than anything else. Although, the people have allowed themselves to get in their submissive position. The control that the government exerts on what they think is astonishing! And, it doesn’t just include not being allowed to read (as i once thought was the sole point of the novel).

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  4. It’s amazing to me that anyone on your blog hasn’t read this book. It was required of us in high school, along with “Animal Farm” and “1984.” Then, it was required again in college. There may be a reason that it’s not a common part of the curriculum any longer. The sorts of people described in the book would prefer that it not be.

    As so often has happened over the years, we’re running parallel tracks with our current posts, although mine is somewhat different in tone. Do have a read — I think it will make you smile, and heaven knows we all can stand a smile or two these days.

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    1. I know of others who have said it was required reading in high school, and yet it wasn’t for me. We had to read The Great Gatsby, The Grapes of Wrath, To Kill a Mockingbird, and lots of Hemingway as I recall, to which a seventeen year old girl had little to relate. I think it’s so important to revisit, or perhaps visit for the first time, these significant works. Especially from an adult perspective when we can really think about it in the scope of our existence, both past and present.

      Of course, I’m not surprised we’re running “parallel tracks”. I’ll be over straight away. xo

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  5. I just LOVED Fahrenheit 451 when I read it years ago! I agree with you that it’s shocking to see how close this dystopia from the early 1950s is to the world in which we are living today. I felt quite similar about Brave New World and Nineteen Eighty-Four, the latter dating from the same period as Bradbury’s classic, the former about two decades older. In general, I’m not a huge fan of science-fiction, and yet, I can’t be but impressed by the clairvoyance of those authors. Thanks for your great review!

    LaGraziana @ Edith’s Miscellany

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    1. I have not read either Brave New World or Nineteen Eighty-Four, which is rather embarrassing. They seem significant works of classic literature, and especially applicable to the times today. I’m not a huge fan of sci-fi, or fantasy, myself, yet when those genres are written well I find them quite profound. The Moon is A Harsh Mistress was another one, from which came the phrase, “There’s no such thing as a free lunch.” Something again that we would do well to remember today; there is always some kind of payment required for what we receive or do.

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      1. I must admit that my memories of Brave New World and Nineteen Eighty-Four may be just a little bit blurred considering that I read both in my last high school year, i.e. ages ago. Maybe it wouldn’t be a bad idea to reread them sometime or other. However, I felt that Fahrenheit 451 impressed me more than either of the two – maybe because books mean so much to me.

        Otherwise my experience with science-fiction is very very limited… As a matter of fact, I noticed that even many of the household names of the genre don’t ring a bell with me. They just passed my by.

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  6. Before I had a blog, I had a book group, and this was one of the books we read. I loved it! It’s a rare science fiction book that can keep my interest, but as you say, this one is so prescient, it’s gripping. Thank you for a good review…. I think I will take this off my shelf and put it on my bedside table now 🙂

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    1. I don’t readily pick up science fiction novels, myself, Gretchen, but ironically enough this was for a book club read, too! It’s so fun that we’ve read the same books, that you’ve even picked up Seventeenth Summer.

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      1. Well, I see that I already commented about this book! And I already had the idea to read it again in 2016. But I didn’t. I linked here from your year’s summary page, forgetting that I read your review six months ago!

        I am finding it difficult to focus my mind on the literally heavy philosophical books that get my interest, and on many other books in various genres. I’ve been thinking that in 2017 I might try to read shorter, “easy” books, or ones that I know I liked before, to get me through whatever this season is. That way I could enjoy rereading some like Fahrenheit 451. I do believe in re-reading! Thank you again for your reviews and helping me to think. 🙂

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