Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451


Ray Bradbury

“The books are to remind us what asses and fool we are. They’re Caeser’s praetorian guard, whispering as the parade roars down the avenue, ‘Remember, Caeser, thou art mortal.’ Most of us can’t rush around, talking to everyone, know all the cities of the world, we haven’t time, money or that many friends. The things you’re looking for, Montag, are in the world, but the only way the average chap will ever see ninety-nine per cent of them is in a book. Don’t ask for guarantees. And don’t look to be saved in any one thing, person, machine, or library. Do your own bit of saving, and if you drown, at least die knowing you were headed for shore.” [Ray Bradbury, Fahrenheit 451]

While I can’t say I’ve read all of Bradbury’s books or short stories, the one I can vouch for is Fahrenheit 451.

It was one of those “required” books that I read because I had to, but that isn’t to say I didn’t enjoy it. I think perhaps the only book I was ever made to read for school that I did not enjoy at all was Animal Farm. Somehow it just didn’t work for me and I loathed even picking it up (and this coming from the girl who actually enjoyed reading The Good Earth).

The idea of talking animals just rubbed me raw. I would have preferred them to be human. I did like Charlotte’s Web, though, and read it several times. I guess I just prefer dancing pigs to talking porcine revolutionaries.

It didn’t help much that no one explained to me that it was a freaking treatise on the evils of Stalinism and how absolute power corrupts absolutely. I just thought it was a barn yard full of talking animals. Way to go, public education!

Upon hearing of Bradbury’s death I decided to read 451 again but I’ll have to buy another copy. I lent mine to someone in college and it never found it’s way back to me. I honestly can’t even remember who I gave it to but hopefully it still resides on a bookshelf and is repeatedly taken down, read lovingly and dog-eared to death.

Books are the stuff of miracles. They transport you to a different place and time and give you an experience that you could not otherwise have. They are one of my first loves and it took me years to be able to actually write in and mark my books. I felt like I was betraying them! They kept me entertained like no fancy device ever could and the way the smelled and felt — especially the older ones — was like holding a bit of history in my hands. They are perfect in every way. I love them.

Fahrenheit 451

“Why is it,” he said, one time, at the subway entrance, “I feel I’ve known you so many years?”
“Because I like you,” she said, “and I don’t want anything from you.” [Ray Bradbury, Fahrenheit 451]

“If you want to write, if you want to create, you must be the most sublime fool that God ever turned out and sent rambling. You must write every single day of your life. You must read dreadful dumb books and glorious books, and let them wrestle in beautiful fights inside your head, vulgar one moment, brilliant the next. You must lurk in libraries and climb the stacks like ladders to sniff books like perfumes and wear books like hats upon your crazy heads. I wish you a wrestling match with your Creative Muse that will last a lifetime. I wish craziness and foolishness and madness upon you. May you live with hysteria, and out of it make fine stories — science fiction or otherwise. Which finally means, may you be in love every day for the next 20,000 days. And out of that love, remake a world.”
― Ray Bradbury

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