1000 Books In 10 Years; Vol. 166: Fahrenheit 451, by Ray Bradbury

Ray Bradbury’s classic dystopian novel, Fahrenheit 451, lays out the classic narrative for a science-fiction narrative; A man who is the enforcer of a totalitarian government, in this case a fireman who burns books, find himself at odds with the system which he represents and so becomes the target of his former colleagues.  It is the same story arch as the films; Equilibrium, Minority Report and Logan’s Run, and it works well for Bradbury.  It is the narrative of a man, Guy Montage, who feels disconnected with the world around him.  His wife, refusing to acknowledge a recent suicide attempt, refuses also to try and understand her husband’s exploration and turns him in to his colleagues.  Bradbury borrows from Orwell’s 1984, in that he offers Montage what Orwell offered Winston; a mentor turned tormentor.  The fire chief exudes a strong knowledge of the written word, despite the fact that he is tasked with the destruction of books.  His mind, like O’Brien’s in Orwell’s piece, contains every thought that Montage has had, and with that, an argument against it, but Bradbury offers his protagonist something that Orwell’s was lacking; an ally, and though Montage loses contact with this ally, he does find more, and while that books ends with destruction missed with a hint of hope, Montage also must face the fact that he may drown before he reaches the shore, but is at least comforted by the fact the though he may die, he will die knowing that he was headed for the shore.  Not as beautifully written as Orwell’s work, Bradbury does manage to create a narrative whose spirit remains relatable and relevant more than a half a century after it was first published.

Rambler About Rambler

Jason John Horn is a writer and critic who recently completed his Master's in English Literature at the University of Windsor. He has composed a play, a novella and a number of short stories and satirical essays.

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