“Guy Montag is a fireman. His job is to burn books, which are forbidden, being the source of all discord and unhappiness. Even so, Montag is unhappy; there is discord in his marriage. Are books hidden in his house? The Mechanical Hound of the Fire Department, armed with a lethal hypodermic, escorted by helicopters, is ready to track down those dissidents who defy society to preserve and read books.”
This is an intriguing premise for a novel, but is also a classic dystopian novel of a post-literate future. Bradbury’s novel, Fahrenheit 451, stands alongside George Orwell’s ‘1984’ and Huxley’s ‘Brave New World’ as accounts of civilisation’s enslavement by the media and conformity. The idea that the firemen of the future start fires rather than put them out is what initially drew me to read this book. I thought it was an intriguing concept, and I still do. However, having read the book, I remain unconvinced as to how much I really enjoyed it.
I thoroughly enjoyed Orwell’s ‘1984’ and thought that this book would similarly capture me, since it is a variation of a similar idea. Bradbury’s powerful prose, combined with an almost uncanny insight into the potential of technology, has the ability to impress; especially when you consider that it was published decades ago. He appears to have predicated, in part, what shape the future might take. Despite being an impressive work of literature I found it almost too strange to like; but just because I wouldn’t rank it as one of my favourite books doesn’t mean it isn’t worth a read. The ability of Bradbury to convince people to read right to the end, despite being unsure if they like it, is testament to his powers of writing.