Fahrenheit 451 (Guide)

Fahrenheit 451 represents one of the most popular dystopian novels written by American writer Ray Bradbury, published in 1953. Frequently regarded as one of his best works, the story describes a future American society where books are outlawed and “firemen” burn any that they find. The title of the book is explained by the fact that Fahrenheit 451 is the temperature at which book paper catches fire and burns. The lead character, Guy Montag, is one of the firemen who becomes disillusioned with his part of destroying knowledge and censoring literature, eventually quitting his job and committing himself to the preservation of cultural and literary writings.

Information

Summary

The Background Set in the twenty-fourth century, Fahrenheit 451 introduces the reader to a new world in which the power and control of the masses by the media, censorship, and overpopulation has taken over the general population. The individual is not accepted, and the intellectual is considered a criminal. Television has managed to replace the common perception of family. The fireman profession turned into a flamethrower, a destroyer of books rather than an insurance against fire. Books are considered evil because they make people think and question. People live in a world without any appreciation of the past, where the population receives the present from television. An author introduces this new world through the protagonist character Guy Montag, during a short time in his life. The opening of a story The story starts with an inciting event in which Montag meets Clarisse McClellan. Montag is a fireman who destroys books for a living. One day he was walking home from work when the young Clarisse approaches him and introduces herself. Clarisse is the antithesis of anyone Montag has ever met. She is pretty, young, and energetic, but more importantly, she starts the conversation with him about things that he has never considered. Her inquisitive nature fascinates him because she ponders things such as love, happiness, and, more importantly, the contents of the books that he burns. At first, Montag tries to ignore her questions, but during the rest of his walk home, he cannot get the girl out of his mind. However, once he e

Publication history

The first U.S. printing represented a paperback version from October 1953 by The Ballantine Publishing Group. Soon after the paperback, a hardcover version was released by introducing a special edition of 200 numbered and signed copies bound in asbestos. These were technically collections because the novel was issued with two short stories: And the Rock Cried Out and The Playground, which has been absent in later printings. Several months later, the story was serialized in the March, April, and May 1954 issues of nascent Playboymagazine. Expurgation Starting in January 1967, the book was subject to expurgation by its publisher, Ballantine Books, with the release of the “Bal-Hi Edition” intended at high school students. Changes made by the publisher included the censorship of the words “damn,” “hell,” and “abortion.” Seventy-five passages were modified, and two episodes were changed. For instance, in the one episode, a drunk man became a “sick man” while cleaning fluff out of a human navel became “cleaning ears” in the other. For a while, both the uncensored and censored versions were available concurrently, but by 1973 Ballantine was publishing only the edited version that continued until 1979 when the subject came to Bradbury’s attention. In 1979, one of Ray Bradbury’s friends showed him a censored version of the book. Bradbury demanded the withdrawal of that version and replacement of it with the original. In 1980 the original version bec

Reception

In 1954, Galaxy Science Fiction reviewer Groff Conklin reviewed the novel and described it as being among the great works of the imagination written in English in the last decade or more. The Chicago Sunday Tribune’s August Derleth characterized the book as “a savage” and shockingly prophetic view of one possible future way of life, calling it “compelling” and praising Ray Bradbury for his bright imagination. Over half a century later, Sam Weller wrote, “upon its publication, Fahrenheit 451 was hailed as a visionary work of social commentary.” Today, Fahrenheit 451 is still viewed as a remarkable cautionary tale about conformity and the evils of government censorship. When the novel was first published, some did not find merit in the story. J. Francis McComas and Anthony Boucher were less enthusiastic, faulting the book for being simply padded, occasionally with startlingly ingenious gimmickry, frequent with coruscating cascades of verbal brilliance, however often merely with words. By reviewing the book for Astounding Science Fiction, P. Schuyler Miller defined the title piece as “one of Bradbury’s bitter, almost hysterical diatribes,” while praising its “emotional drive and compelling, nagging detail.” Furthermore, The New York Times was not impressed with the book and accused Bradbury of developing a “virulent hatred for a lot of aspects of today’s culture, namely, such monstrosities like TV, most movies, radio, and other similar aberrati

More about Fahrenheit 451 (Guide)

Fahrenheit 451 (Guide)

Fahrenheit 451 represents one of the most popular dystopian novels written by American writer Ray Bradbury, published in 1953. Frequently regarded as one of his best works, the story describes a future American society where books are outlawed and “firemen” burn any that they find. The title of the book is explained by the fact that Fahrenheit 451 is the temperature at which book paper catches fire and burns. The lead character, Guy Montag, is one of the firemen who becomes disillusioned with his part of destroying knowledge and censoring literature, eventually quitting his job and committing himself to the preservation of cultural and literary writings.

The novel has been the subject of interpretations focusing on the historical role of book burning in suppressing ideas for change. In a 1956 radio interview, Bradbury revealed that he decided to write Fahrenheit 451 because of his concerns at the time (during the McCarthy era) about the threat of book burning in the U.S. In later years, an author described the book as a commentary on how mass media decreases interest in reading literature.

In 1954, the book received the American Academy of Arts and Letters Award in Literature and the Commonwealth Club of California Gold Medal. The novel later gained the Prometheus “Hall of Fame” Award in 1984 and a “Retro” Hugo Award, one of only seven Best Novel Retro Hugos ever given, in 2004. An author was honored with a Spoken Word Grammy nomination for his 1976 audiobook version.

On screens

Adaptations of the novel include François Truffaut’s 1966 movie adaptation and a 1982 BBC Radio dramatization. Bradbury published a stage play version in 1979 and participated in the development of a 1984 interactive fiction computer game titled Fahrenheit 451, as well as a collection of his short stories titled A Pleasure to Burn. HBO released a television movie based on the novel and directed and written by Ramin Bahrani in 2018.

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