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.
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.