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Fahrenheit 451

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Front cover of a Hungarian translation.
Great and terrible
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Fahrenheit 451 is a dystopian novel by Ray Bradbury set in a not-so-distant future where everything potentially offensive is outlawed and people are hopelessly narcissistic. In this world, firemen do not put out fires, but start them, burning books and the houses where the books are hidden. One fireman, Guy Montag, is an enthusiastic servant of the system until events push him to question his beliefs.

Written in 1953, it was meant as a critique of American pop culture, which Bradbury saw as anti-intellectual and dangerously hedonistic. Bradbury's vision took this to an extreme, creating a world where the general population had come to believe that anything intellectually challenging was more trouble than it was worth, and thus anything even remotely controversial was to be destroyed.

Cause of censorship[edit]

In the book, the censorship originated from "minorities". Any and every group of people who felt that not only should they never be offended, no one should ever be allowed to read the offensive parts. Cat lovers didn't want any bad depictions of cats in literature, so anything the showed cats in less than perfect light were removed. White people didn't like their depiction in Uncle Tom's Cabin, so that got removed as well. Anyone with any sort of agenda would complain, and the government would remove it, until absolutely nothing was left. Of course, we learned from this and we'd never be so foolish as to self-censor because some group of people claim a right never to be offe- OH DAMMIT WE DID DIDN'T WE?!

Different interpretations[edit]

Later readers have generally seen the book to be a cautionary tale against any form of censorship against unpopular ideas, of which Bradbury's original scenario of censorship by mob rule is only one of the more insidious forms. Bradbury himself asserted that the novel is about the dangers of television. [1] One class of college students told him he was wrong about the thesis of his own book after he gave a lecture on it, causing him to leave in a huff.

Adaptations[edit]

The book has been adapted into various formats including:

  • A 1966 film directed by François Truffaut.
  • A 1982 radio play by the BBC.
  • A 1984 computer text adventure game.
  • A 2009 graphic novel.
  • Two plays (The first in 2006 by the Godlight Theatre Company, the second in 2008 by the American Place Theatre).

Irony[edit]

  • Several printings of the book have been censored.[2]
  • Ray Bradbury, after condemning television as a medium, actually had his own television show, and won the Emmy (an award for excellence in television) multiple times. [3]
  • The names of two characters in the story, Montag and Faber, are also the names of manufacturers of (respectively) paper and pencils. Bradbury insisted this was not intentional.
  • An HTTP status code, "451", denoting that a website or webpage is "unavailable for legal reasons", has been proposed[4], despite Bradbury's criticism of the Internet as being "distracting", "meaningless", and "not real"[5].

See also[edit]

External links[edit]

Foonotes[edit]