It is a classic, that I know. It marked the beginning of the lovable genre of Science Fiction but apart from these limited, loose facts my knowledge about this novel prior to my reading it, was at best, rudimentary. Admittedly, I was doubtful about the usefulness of reading it. At first, the title didn’t really speak to me. I mean, it’s an extremely high temperature measure but apart from that, I gathered nothing (being the dimwitted girl I am).
Boy was I in for a surprise.
As a science-fiction/dystopian novel, it had the tell-tale cautionary aspect in the narrative, hinted at throughout the book. What I interpreted, is the repeating of mistakes previously made. The war, although not highly prominent in the book, recalls the wars we have had in the past and the wars we currently wage and to hear this message from a book set in the future, reflects our nature and the way we think. As a collective, we cannot stop making the same mistakes over and over again, and personally, an an individual neither can I.
The writing style of book is simply divine. Subtle, descriptive but not over the top, detailed enough to paint a picture, detailed enough to let the imagination run wild…you can tell I’m in love :) In particular, Beatty’s speeches are highly entertaining and in some cases, quite closely reflects the society we live in today – I have to say that I expected this but didn’t realise the significance of the similarities until after I finished the book.
It is a novel about burning books and of course the inevitable quotes to other texts cropped up continually. Having not had an extensive reading history myself, most of these went right over my head and yet, I still understood the underlying meaning of the text.
I also think it’s interesting that the books themselves are not deemed important by the ‘educated’ of the society. It is their content and the knowledge that it carries as opposed to the physicality of it. This idea connects to the importance of books (giving us experiences and knowledge without us, as the audience, having to actually read it) but also links to a popular source of conversation in the society of 2012. With the rising popularity of the Kindle and other e-book readers, has come the rising indignation from the book-lovers and library goers of our community, who adore the smell, the flipping of pages, the holding, the folding and the idle browsing in libraries like old friends. I have to say, I don’t share these feelings (you can see them in action here and here) but I am on the fence on this matter.
With all this in mind, let me tell you this – Fahrenheit 451, must be read – but be prepared to read between the lines as well. One must be prepared to submit to the desire to eagerly deciphering metaphors when one reads the likes of Ray Bradbury ;)