Tuesday, December 12, 2017
BOOK REVIEWS

FAHRENHEIT 451

First published in the year 1959, this masterpiece since then, has been recognized as one of the most influential pieces in shaping the intellectual literature and letters of the USA, having won several national and international awards.

Ray Bradbury (1920-2012) was interestingly, one of the first authors to be made an offer to have his books available online, by the then-tech giants (!) Yahoo!. He is known to have replied by, “To hell with you. To hell with you, and the Internet”.

This book, to quote the NY Times, “frightening in its implications”. And indeed. While traversing the text, the reader comes across many instances which are no less than hair-raising and down-right scary. You’d be surprised by reality of this fiction, once it hits you.

451F is the temperature at which the book paper catches fire. The story is set in a dystopian future, wherein every emotion felt, every deed done, is materialistic. Having lost all ties with intellect, sympathy, empathy and humanity, mankind is warped in a colorless environment. In this future, books, literature and belles-lettres have become criminal possessions.

Any house found to be hiding these, ‘heretical artifacts’, is cindered to its last plank. And this deed is done by the firemen. Humanity in this future has a legend. One in which the firemen used to put out fires, instead starting them, but as of yet(in every sense of that line) it’s the firemen who have their hands inked with guilt.

The story talks of one such fireman, who meets a curious neighbor one day. A teenage girl of seventeen, who, in that era of expressways, wants to take life slowly, appreciating it. As the story progresses, our fireman begins to see light in a new fire (go figure).

If one reads along the lines, similarities can be drawn and are evident at that, between the events described in it to those which took place in 1497, in the literary abode of Florence. The horrifying events of that century come rushing back to you, and you can picture Savonarola slyly kindling the biggest fire of all times, fuelled by books manuscripts, paintings, almanacs and prototypes of the biggest, most renowned thinkers, writers and inventors of Renaissance.

This story ties the past, the present, and the future of anthropology. And the ease with which it does so is eerie. It shakes the reader from his/her slumber of denial, splashing you across your guise with ice-cold water. Indeed, this book is a must in any bibliophile’s library. Let this be a reminder. A reminder, a remembrance, a promise, and more.

Ritwik Prakash Srivastava
Student Reporter
October-2016