For my Classical Litereature challenge "Classic Sci-Fi" I read Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury.
Fahrenheit 451 had been one of my favorite books when I was a teenager. After a span of almost twenty years since I last read it, the book did not disappoint. I seem to enjoy dystopia anti government type stories. I can relate to them and see the dangers hidden in their tales. Like Utopia, The Prince, and 1984, Fahrenheit 451 has a great concept.
The tale begins with a man named Montag who is a fireman. Not the type of fireman we are used to, but one in the future (when written in 1953) who is hired to burn books. All houses are fire proof and reading is a thing of the past. Well at least the readings of books that may cause you to question happy thoughts were banned. The characters of Fahrenheit who are content with society, do not like to think of anything negative. Society has caved to the Politically Correct arguments in the most extreme way. They outlawed anything that could be construed as negative or exclusionary. And as a result, most books have been deemed illegal and ordered to burn. As the fire captain Beatty says to Montag "You must understand that our civilization is so vast that we can't have our minorities upset and stirred. Ask yourself, what do we want in this country, above all? People want to be happy, isn't that right? ... That's all we live for, isn't it? For pleasure, for titillation?"
Throughout the story, Montag meets people in hiding who help open his eyes to the beauty in books and the mindless existence that so many, including his wife are happy to live. Montag had felt a loneliness and boredom with the sheltered unemotional life he shared with a petty selfish woman. He began stealing books from the piles he was ordered to burn, and when one of the book owners set herself on fire, rather than let them be burned by these brutish men, Montag lost all desire to be apart of the life he lived.
The best part of the book, wasn’t actually in the book itself. At the end, the author, Ray Bradbury wrote what he called a Coda. In this Coda, he describes societies reaction to his book. He was astounded how many school systems, libraries and marketing people he had to abruptly turn away because of their desire to alter his book to make it more “suitable”. They liked the book. They wanted to put it in their schools and libraries, but they asked him to remove some of the “offensive” words. Oh, the irony of people trying to censor a book about book censorship.