Incredible! What else can I say, that hasn’t already been said, about this book? The millions of essays, written by high school and college students, the thousands of reviews written by scholars and critics throughout the world, the film adaptations, the theater adaptations, and TV adaptations… It all speaks for itself.
“Fahrenheit 451,” switched around to read 451 Fahrenheit is the temperature, according to the Los Angeles Fire Department, at which paper burns. Mr. Bradbury’s novel that takes place in 2054, depicts an American society in which books are burned, and homes that possess such items are burned down along with the books and at times so are the occupants of the home. The Fire Department, instead of putting out fires, are the ones that burn the books, homes, and occupants.
The book, published in 1950, evolved originally from a short story written by Mr. Bradbury titled “The Fireman.” It was a time in America when Senator Joseph McCarthey decided to make a name for himself by hunting down invisible Communists hiding in every closet in the United States, it was the height of the Cold War with both the Soviet Union and United States in possession of Atomic bombs, and it was the time when Stalin’s crime against humanity were coming into full view and his totalitarian state was banning everything from a free press to books.
All of the above factors influenced Mr. Bradbury’s novel. What is truly amazing, to me, is the relevance that this book has to today… Nearly 70 years after it was published. It’s as though the author literally saw the future in which books were replaced by big screen TVs, computers and cell phones replaced communal gatherings such as sitting on porches and conversing on subjects such as politics and friends, and libraries are becoming extinct. “Fake News” a Stalinist term from the 1950’s in vogue in the good old USA, Putin replaces Stalin and invades sovereign countries, The Chinese stealing intellectual property, and of course that constant threat of nuclear destruction… And the love of money, above God and country, and comfort above hard work.
In an appendix to my edition of the book, Mr. Bradbury writes “I’ve always been afraid of belonging to groups. I don’t want to be a Democrat or a Republican or a Communist or a Fascist, or…. just an All-American. I wanted to be, as far as I can be, myself, and find out what I think…”
“For it is a mad world, and it will get madder if we allow the minorities, be they dwarf or giant, orangutan or dolphin, nuclear-head or water conservationist, pro-computerologist or Neo Luddite, simpleton or sage, to interfere with aesthetics. If Mormons do not like my plays, let them write their own. If the Irish hate my Dublin Stories, let them rent typewriters