Friday, July 19, 2013

Rereading Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury

Fahrenheit 451It was a pleasure to burn. It was a special pleasure to see things eaten, to see things blackened and changed.

Here's what I said in my original review: "I can understand the fascination with burning, but why books? I read Fahrenheit 451 for class, and I enjoyed it, though it's somewhat disturbing. In a futuristic world, firemen don't put out fires, they set fires, and burn books. Guy Montag is a fireman, who has always been satisfied with his job, until he meets Clarisse, a seventeen year old who changes how he thinks about everything...

Ray Bradbury has a very distinctive writing style, which I noticed in Dandelion Wine, which I read a while ago. I would say Fahrenheit 451 is a much better book; the writing is better and the subject matter more interesting. The society depicted in the book is really scary. Mildred, Montag's wife, is always watching her three-wall television (she wants a four wall). It's interactive too, so she can take part in the shows. She's almost always watching it or listening to her Seashell (earphones).

Clarisse and Faber are both really interesting characters. I think I would probably get along with Clarisse. Now, books being really important to me, I found this book super disturbing, and not altogether unrealistic. Though written in the 50's, it bears a certain resemblance to the increasing consumerism of today. Bradbury builds suspense and dread with his foreshadowing (for example, the Hound not liking Montag).

I've been planning to read The Martian Chronicles for a while now, and Fahrenheit 451 motivated me to do so. I would highly recommend this excellent Ray Bradbury novel."

The educational world certainly loves this book a lot. I read it in middle school, and now in my first year of high school, what's on the summer reading list? You guessed it. I think F-451 is kind of overrated. It is certainly a good book, but this is my third time reading it (I read it for fun once too), and I'm kind of sick of it. I will say that every time I read it, I like it a bit better. The writing, although sometimes overly dramatic, is really good, and the story has a lot of bearing on modern times. The thing is, it's almost like Bradbury wrote the novel to be over-analyzed in a high school class; everything means something other than what it is. 

I would say that Bradbury sometimes uses metaphors too much. Every page is filled with metaphors and similes, personification and hyperboles. The images themselves are all very interesting, but sometimes it's just sensory overload. Sometimes being sparse with your metaphors isn't such a bad thing. 

I read Fahrenheit 451 in a different fashion than I have the previous two times. For school, I had to annotate the novel, and while that style is kind of tedious, I did definitely notice things that I hadn't before. For example, the over-abundance of metaphors. I also noticed just how many times Bradbury equates books with birds. I'd been aware of it before, but actually underlining the passages reinforces it. It still feels sacrilegious to write on books though, especially my brand new copy of Fahrenheit 451 

Reading slow and being constantly aware of everything is not the most enjoyable way to read, but it can be illuminating. It certainly was in this case, and I enjoyed the novel more the third time. It has its points, although I really do think that it's overused. 

I definitely prefer the older cover to the new 60th anniversary one. A box of matches inside of a book is just not as compelling as a man made of print lit on fire. I'm pretty sure that was the original cover too. 

F-451 is most definitely a very good novel, which I would recommend. It's certainly worth reading at least once, if by some miracle you escaped reading it for school.
158 pages. 

Rating: ****

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