The system was simple. Everyone understood it. Books were for burning, along with the houses in which they were hidden. Guy Montag was a fireman whose job it was to start fires, and he enjoyed his job. He had been a fireman for 10 years, and never questioned the pleasure of the midnight runs, nor the joy of watching pages consumed by flames. He never questioned anything, until he met a 17-year-old girl who told him of a past when people were not afraid, and a professor who told him of a future in which people could think. Guy Montag suddenly realized what he had to do.
©1953 Ray Bradbury (Afterword 1982 by Ray Bradbury, Coda 1979 by Ray Bradbury); (P)2005 Blackstone Audiobooks
"Frightening in its implications....Mr. Bradbury's account of this insane world, which bears many alarming resemblances to our own, is fascinating." (The New York Times)
Do I dare admit to not having read this book in high school? Wasn't it required reading? Anyway, it should be. It's as relevant as ever.
In the epilogue, Bradbury said he didn't change one word or the original manuscript for this reprinting even though stage plays have had additional scenes answering inevitable questions about pivotal characters.
Reading this in 2008 for the first time, I found the entertainment culture described in this tale to be eerily near to reality. Our flat screens are similar to Bradbury's wall screens. The constant input from TV, Internet, iPod, radio makes it so that you can almost completely avoid serious conversation or reading -- two of the things missing, sadly, in Bradbury's alternate and untenable reality.
I just hope that we all don't become so numbed like Montag's friends, that we can be unaffected by war and death ... oops, I think we may already have done that.
It's hard to believe this was written 50 years ago. Bradbury is farsighted indeed. In the book, people have turned away from books in droves, preferring the quick satisfaction of TV. No one has time to think or talk anymore. People vote for candidates without learning the issues and not caring about them either. Their society has grown fat and apathetic on its past successes. In the background suicides and despair increase as people lose their purpose in life. Sound familiar?
The only thing Bradbury missed is kids sitting in front of videogames for hours instead of playing board games or sports.
Also interesting is the afterword. Bradbury talks about how editions of his book, which criticizes censorship, has itself been censored over the years. Stick around after the book is done, it's worth a read.
Fahrenheit 451 is a classic of speculative fiction for a reason. Ray Bradubury's prose is lush and exquisite; his talent as a writer makes it possible for him to get away with descriptions which, from anyone else, would be ludicrous hyperbole. It's not always clear how he pulls off this intensity without becoming ridiculous, but he does, and the result is beautiful.
Bradbury's story keeps you moving, and this is important. Stop too long, and the inherent misogyny starts to rise to the surface of the attention, the flaws in the story's construction begin to interfere with one's enjoyment. So don't stop, just keep listening, and value it for what it is - a gorgeous, shimmering, evocative slice of early SF, with the blend of speculation and social commentary that implies.
Christopher Hurt's reading matches the text unexpectedly well. His accent strikes the ear of the typical US listener, accustomed to the media's construction of mid-Atlantic "neutral" tones, as unexpected, perhaps distracting, but only for the first few minutes. After that, it flows with the story to form a well-shaped whole. I have the feeling that if I were to try to read this aloud to someone now, Clarisse would have the faintest ghost of a southern accent, because now, in my mind, she does. That's success, for a performer.
My only complaint with this performance is that it includes an 'Afterward' written by Bradbury long after the original publication. There's nothing wrong with that - I love to have more information about the things I enjoy. I watch 'The Making Of--" specials, too. But in this case, I found the things Bradbury writes about his own work so painfully frustrating, disillusioning, offensive, or just plain wrong that after it was over, I wished overwhelmingly that I had stopped listening when the story ended, and never needed to find out Bradbury's own opinions of it. I was happier with my own.
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I didn't read the print version. The narrator did an amazing job though and I mean a really amazing job! The add on on reading the print version is that the story has a lot of phrases that I would have loved to stop at and think of which audio books does not provide.
The ending and the author's note at the end.
Yup, it's a really good book with an excellent narrator.
This is a must read classic. It's enjoyable and intellectual at the same time. It's amazing how Bradbury foresaw the future and society or maybe human nature just never changes - he does say something about this at the end!This is a story about realizing and comprehending life and fighting for what you want when it seems that you are alone. It also goes through the struggle, dilemma and confusion that we all go through when we dare think differently or approach something and almost no one supports us. I gave the story and not a five because the events taking place were not detailed or deep enough. Still, it's a must read :)
Audiobooks are a big part of my life.
The first audiobook I downloaded from Audible was Ray Bradbury's Fahrenheit 451. I had read it myself long ago, and now my son, who has great difficulty with reading, had to study it for his English class. We listened to it together, enjoying the excellent narration by Christopher Hurt, as my son followed along in the printed book. The novel is about censorship and book burning, of course, and I couldn't help thinking about the slight irony of listening to a digital version -- which, like the banned but secretly memorized books in the novel, is "safe, free from moths, silver-fish, rust and dry-rot, and men with matches."
Fahrenheit 451 is a truly amazing book. Ray Bradbury is widely regarded as one of the great science fiction writers of the 20th century, but he is often overlooked as simply on of the best writers. His prose is beautiful and emotionally deep... and F451 is him at his best.
The underlying subject of the book might seem simplistic enough... censorship of ideas is bad. But I think a good example of the true genius of Bradbury's writing is F451's antagonist's explanation of why books should be burned. Bradbury doesn't take the easy way out here, but actually formulates a real and almost believable explanation of the history behind the Firemen's job (burning books). It's amazing. The entire book is amazing! It really caught me off guard with how much better it was than I expected.
The narration was also done very well. The readers deep voice really adds to the over tone and suspense of the book. His presentation of female voices leaves a little to be desired, but it does not take away from anything. Overall the audio production was very well done.
I've read this book for the first time when I was a teenager, yeah, ages ago, during the communistic era in Czech Republic. And I remember the shivering, when reading about fireman, freedom and censorship.
And it still works that way. Although it's not an 'easy-English', admittedly I had one false start, I was really attracted again - by the story, as well as narrator.
It's so easy to imagine, that something like that can happen, especially after listening to CODA.
Recommended reading/listening for all book-lovers (although it hurts to imagine the books being burned)
If you have ever loved any book; than you will certainly love this one. Bradbury's dystopian novel makes clear the evils of censorship; including unconscious self-censorship thought willful ignorance. I know (and see) far too many people that spend all of there free time watching TV & movies and the little reading they do manage is of trash magazines & the sports section of the newspaper. Never realizing what they are doing to the world and themselves.
Although originally published in 1953 it is as (if not more) relevant today. The practice of book burning as thought control has been around nearly as long as the written word. Most people might think of 1933 with the Nazis burning the work of Jewish and other 'un-German' authors. But, it wasn't long ago (Nov. 2001) that religious fanatics burned over 1.5 million Harry Potter books in there church parking lot of Freehold, Iowa.
This is without doubt one of my (many) favorite books.
Not only did I enjoy the book from a story standpoint, but the use of language and the thought-provoking themes really stimulated my mind. I listened while driving, and more than once sat in the car after reaching my destination to listen to a little more. I enjoyed the afterward, as well. The narration was also top notch.
I'm a big fan of SF/F/Horror, and all things in between and out.
This was my introduction to Bradbury many years back, and it was fascinating to listen to it again (ironically, either with earbuds or speeding down the highway). It's not quite as perfect as I remembered it, but it's still generally excellent.
So many years after it was published, Bradbury's story of censorship and defiance is still incredibly relevant. What's really interesting about this dystopian classic is that the government's not so much a totalitarian regime as it is an uprising of common people made uncomfortable by criticism. In that sense, it's very American. When society abandons criticism, they lose their culture - so much so they can't even remember their own history. This new society is far more interested in fashion and appearance than it is discovering what's beneath the surface by observing, asking hard questions, and thinking. It's also, in the end, a relatively optimistic dystopian vision. Again, very American, and certainly very Bradbury.
Christopher Hurt gives a solid, minimalistic reading that fits this dystopian tale pretty perfectly.
I also have to respect Bradbury for not tweaking his original manuscript at all, despite him seeing room for improvement.
All in all, this is an excellent production of a classic SF story by a master.
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