Fahrenheit 451, by Ray Bradbury

This book should be taught in every high school classroom in America, though the reason it is so striking are very different now than when the book was written, in 1950. Then, it was a classic dystopian novel, akin to "1984" and "Brave New World." It describes an America in which books, and indeed all media, have been shortened, summarized, dumbed down, eliminated. But it wasn't the government that spurred this; it was the people themselves who gradually forgot and then demonized intelligence, individuality, and intellectual pursuit. Now, we are living in this time. The advent of social media and reality television, declining book sales and the slow "elitization" and degeneration of collegiate studies, all are combining to create a culture in which stupidity, vapidity, and superficiality are prized qualities. Fire-Captain Beatty's assertion that people just want to have fun and be happy and intellectualism leads only to doubt and depression seems to be finding purchase in today's society. The unthinkable world Bradbury created is coming to be, and it is a prime example of why science fiction is so relevant.

As for the writing, Bradbury is truly a genius. His is a skill of immense proportions, the kind of writing that makes you stop and think and wonder. What a gift it is, to read an author like Bradbury.


Popular Posts