Published 2003 by Wordsworth Classics
Genres: Dystopia/modern classics/sci-fi
I received this book via the library
I read this book as part of The Super Cool Awesome SSF bookclub
Synopsis via Goodreads: Guy Montag is a fireman. In his world, where television rules and literature is on the brink of extinction, firemen start fires rather than put them out. His job is to destroy the most illegal of commodities, the printed book, along with the houses in which they are hidden. Montag never questions the destruction and ruin his actions produce, returning each day to his bland life and wife, Mildred, who spends all day with her television "family." But then he meets an eccentric young neighbor, Clarisse, who introduces him to a past where people didn’t live in fear, and to a present where one sees the world through the ideas in books instead of the mindless chatter of television. When Mildred attempts suicide, and Clarisse suddenly disappears, Montag begins to question everything he has ever known. He starts hiding books in his home, and when his pilfering is discovered, the fireman has to run for his life.
Fun fact: My rereading of this book as part of the scifi book club also coincided with the reading of this book by nerdfighters via the vlogbrothers.
I am fascinated by the idea of this book. There is always debate in our society about the freedom of speech and I don’t think that the prohibition of books is that different; especially since there are many occurrences each year of people demanding that certain books be banned from schools/libraries etc.
I’m not sure if Montag is a hero or a kind of anti-hero. He was a fire fighter but his curiosity about books is inspiring. I wonder about Beatty’s true self. I am unsure about his knowledge of books; he could be using his knowledge as a two-faced approach to catching the rule breakers. But part of me wonders whether or not he’s actually a closet intellectual who is torn by his passion and his civic duty.
I love Beatty’s insistence that the first fire fighter was Benjamin Franklin. It’s the evil genius side of him that I kind of admire. (I mentioned this in a discussion of the book with the club mates). What made Franklin such a great diplomat was that he not only knew how to listen, but knew how to subtly sway people to his lines of thinking, but could also sway them to do has he wished in financial matters which is no small accomplishment. Those traits mirror Beatty, though Beatty is perhaps a bit more sinister.
I love that the message of the book is a little open-ended, at least in my opinion. What I take away from the book is that prohibition or censorship may seem like it puts everyone on the same plane it also has the ability to cause a fair to significant amount of dissention. Bradbury leaves the question as to whether or not that is a fair compromise up to the reader.