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Old 05-19-2017, 09:33 AM   #1
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May 2017 Discussion: Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury (spoilers)

The time has come to discuss the May 2017 MobileRead Book Club selection, Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury. What did you think?
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Old 05-20-2017, 02:06 AM   #2
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I think if they tried this today they might have other problems...



I finished this morning and really enjoyed this, although I was surprised how quickly it ended. I was only 64% of the way through. I don't have time tonight to provide detailed thoughts but I did end up highlighting several passages.

Last edited by Dazrin; 05-20-2017 at 02:13 AM. Reason: Re-sized image.
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Old 05-22-2017, 04:26 PM   #3
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I haven't read this in decades and was curious to see how well it held up.

I had a mixed reaction. I thought the concept overwhelmed the story; I think the concept has even become the story. I'm not sure how well the plot and characterizations work, but all you really do is go, "Ooh, in the future they'll burn books!"

The book comes somewhere between 1984 and Brave New World in terms of story, borrowing elements from both, with the totalitarian society of 1984 and its ongoing war as justification, and the doped and distracted populace of Brave New World. Ultimately, I didn't think there was anything ground-breaking here.

There was some cheesy fun that I suppose comes with all classic sci-fi, the moments that are prescient and the ones that are totally rooted in the past. One that had me giggle was the point made of Montag's getting money from the bank. In the middle of the night! From robot tellers!

So, the name Guy Montag was obviously taken from Man Friday in Robinson Crusoe, but I couldn't decide what Bradbury implied by that. Thoughts?

Even if people didn't want to reread, I'd like to hear memories. This was a big deal in its time.
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Old 05-22-2017, 04:55 PM   #4
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I read it a long time ago, and in spite of the rave reviews though it was kind of overrated.
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Old 05-22-2017, 05:40 PM   #5
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I thought the book was a bit dry. I don't think it holds up well these days. The idea is a bit stale. I found Brave New World to be dry and stale as well. Part of the problem is a lot of dystopian stories don't last all that well.
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Old 05-26-2017, 02:39 PM   #6
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I am glad we chose this since I am sure I would have continued to push this off for later. I did enjoy it quite a bit but don't feel the need to re-read it again in the near future.

I have read three major books of this type (1984, Animal Farm, Fahrenheit 451) fairly recently and in all cases they have some major historical re-writing and even the people who lived through it forgetting what actually happened. How easily do you think this could happen?

For my part, I don't think I am very well versed in politics and other current events, especially globally, but have some knowledge at least. On the other hand, I was talking with some friends recently and some of the things I know about and assumed everyone would know something about were met with blank stares. Brexit? What's that? France just had a vote?

Maybe re-writing the past and forgetting what you have actually done isn't the problem. Maybe it is just not caring enough about the world around us. From that perspective, F451 might be the most accurate depiction of this going on.

Here are some of the passages I highlighted.
Quote:
But remember that the Captain belongs to the most dangerous enemy to truth and freedom, the solid unmoving cattle of the majority. Oh, God, the terrible tyranny of the majority.
I wasn't around when this book was written but this was written at the height of McCarthyism and I wonder how many people were feeling then like we do now with our current political situation(s).

Quote:
Grandfather’s been dead for all these years, but if you lifted my skull, by God, in the convolutions of my brain you’d find the big ridges of his thumbprint. He touched me. As I said, earlier, he was a sculptor. ‘I hate a Roman named Status Quo!’ he said to me.
I really like the first part of this quote, there are a few people who I am sure have thumbprints on my brain.

Quote:
There was a silly damn bird called a Phoenix back before Christ, every few hundred years he built a pyre and burned himself up. He must have been first cousin to Man.
How true.

The more complete quote:
Quote:
Granger looked into the fire. “Phoenix.” “What?” “There was a silly damn bird called a Phoenix back before Christ, every few hundred years he built a pyre and burned himself up. He must have been first cousin to Man. But every time he burnt himself up he sprang out of the ashes, he got himself born all over again. And it looks like we’re doing the same thing, over and over, but we’ve got one damn thing the Phoenix never had. We know the damn silly thing we just did. We know all the damn silly things we’ve done for a thousand years and as long as we know that and always have it around where we can see it, some day we’ll stop making the goddam funeral pyres and jumping in the middle of them.
Some days this optimism seems realistic, others...
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Old 05-26-2017, 03:12 PM   #7
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I'm not glad we chose this. It doesn't hold up. It's outdated.
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Old 05-26-2017, 03:18 PM   #8
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I'm not glad we chose this. It doesn't hold up. It's outdated.
Why not give reasons for your opinion, to further the discussion? Why doesn't it hold up? And what's wrong with outdated, especially in regard to scifi, as it seems to me that must go with the genre?
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Old 05-26-2017, 03:29 PM   #9
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Why not give reasons for your opinion, to further the discussion? Why doesn't it hold up? And what's wrong with outdated, especially in regard to scifi, as it seems to me that must go with the genre?
The writing is dry. It feels dated. It's just one of those things you get a sense of as you read. [b]Brave New World[/i] has the same sense of dry and outdated.

These are the sort of books that I cannot call classics because for me, they don't hold up. They feel old. They don't feel relevant.
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Old 05-26-2017, 03:57 PM   #10
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The writing is dry. It feels dated. It's just one of those things you get a sense of as you read. [b]Brave New World[/i] has the same sense of dry and outdated.

These are the sort of books that I cannot call classics because for me, they don't hold up. They feel old. They don't feel relevant.
Maybe I don't understand what you mean by dry writing. If anything, I thought the book was overwritten. I struggled with many of the metaphors and then gave them up. I thought it was self-consciously fancy writing, the opposite of dry.
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Old 05-26-2017, 05:49 PM   #11
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Maybe I don't understand what you mean by dry writing. If anything, I thought the book was overwritten. I struggled with many of the metaphors and then gave them up. I thought it was self-consciously fancy writing, the opposite of dry.
To me it was slow. It was also predicable in places. The story felt dated. It has an odd feel. It feels like it should be in the future and that it's in the past as the same time.
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Old 05-29-2017, 09:58 AM   #12
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It feels like it should be in the future and that it's in the past as the same time.
It seems to me that goes with the territory with classic futuristic science fiction. I don't know how it can be avoided.

I watched the film after I finished reading the book; I remembered it as weird, flawed, but compelling for all that. My updated reaction is that it's just a bad movie. Oskar Werner and Julie Christie are terrible and the plot tweaks make less sense than the book (although apparently Bradbury liked the Book People at the end, rather than the holocaust). Oh, and speaking of the holocaust, just how far did Montag manage to float/walk from the city that he escaped the effects of fallout?

Anyway. One of the problems with the film is that it suggests that all books are worthy, which is patently foolish. Books can be every bit as junky as television with the "family." Books can serve different purposes, from mindless entertainment to mindblowing insight, but they're not all equally worthy. One has to assume that print media are targeted in part because it's a means of oppression in itself. It has to be worth it to a regime to give up the advantages of disseminating its own message in the easiest and cheapest method, rather than just engaging in heavy censorship. The twentieth century book burners didn't burn everything.

It interested me, though, that this wasn't very far in the future, certainly not from where we are now and even from when Bradbury wrote it in the early 1950s. Not that long after 2020, I assume from the text. The second Trump administration! But harking back to Jon's comment about being set simultaneously in the future and the past, I suppose for this kind of scifi, the closer in the future, the less time has to be spent on re-imagining technology. The odd reference will do - like those robot bank tellers! Less than 25 years before ATMs. Who needs robots?
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Old 05-29-2017, 11:51 AM   #13
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This was the second read of it for me. I enjoyed it more this time. I did like the first two parts better than the third though, which just seems to peter out.

I appreciated the dichotomy between Montag and his wife, her friends, and then society as a whole, and how he eventually said hell with it. We've all been there (well I have, heh).

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Old 05-29-2017, 08:39 PM   #14
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I thought the book was a bit dry. I don't think it holds up well these days. The idea is a bit stale. I found Brave New World to be dry and stale as well. Part of the problem is a lot of dystopian stories don't last all that well.
Stale in comparison to what yardstick though? Fahrenheit 451 was written in 1953 when America was living through the McCarthy era. And Brave New World was written in 1931 at a time there was instability in Britain and the Nazi's were beginning their rise to power in Germany. Like any other book they are a product of the times in which they were written.
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Old 05-29-2017, 08:46 PM   #15
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Maybe I don't understand what you mean by dry writing. If anything, I thought the book was overwritten. I struggled with many of the metaphors and then gave them up. I thought it was self-consciously fancy writing, the opposite of dry.
I understand that Mr. Bradbury wrote it in the basement of a local college. .10 for a half hour and he wrote it over a period of days. He talks about it a bit in a video about pulp fiction stories over at
Youtube.
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