Fahrenheit 451

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Bradbury, Roy. Fahrenheit 451. New York: Ballantine, 1953. New York: Simon & Schuster, 2012. For adaptations, see Wikipedia article[1] and the notable dramatic version, FAHRENHEIT 451 (1966) of François Truffaut.


I. F. Clarke in Voices Prophesying War (ch. 6, "From the Flame Deluge to the Bad Time") cites this novel along with Bradbury's The Martian Chronicles as two highly "original stories of technology and warfare" (p. 188). Clarke calls attention to "the Mechanical Hound" enforcer of, most especially, the ban on books as "no plaything: it is the pursuing will of the state — mechanized, infallible, unnatural, untiring in the hunt for transgressors." Clarke summarizes Bradbury's theme and lesson,

There can be no end to tyranny until the individual [...] asks questions, reads the forbidden books, and blasts the Hound with his flame-thrower. That is the first lesson in 'how to run the machines.' The second less comes with the bombs that obliterate the city and hundreds of other cities thought out the world. The survivors are the readers of books and they know about 'a silly damn bird called a Phoenix ... He must have been first cousin to Man'. So Bradbury ends his lesson on the humane uses of technology [...]. (p. 189)

In his Foreword to Old Time Radio: Science Fiction, Bradbury notes,

By 1934 you could pick up the Chicago Tribune [newspaper] and read parts in a radio drama presented each day on a Chicago station. The actors in the studio read one half of the dialogue, you responded in your parlor, full-throated, a ham at large, playing the villain one day, the hero the next. When I wrote my novel Fahrenheit 451 in 1950, I recalled that dialogue between newspaper page print and radio voice, turned it into a television reciprocal soap opera, and had my hero's wife Mildred respond to television grotesques who surrounded her on screens to call her by name. I the same novel I created a Seashell Radio you could tap in your ear like a voice lozenge and walk around town ignoring reality with musical bugs and advertising implants in your head.

Some 15 years ago a mob of Japanese TV producers streamed into my office to cap the first Walkman on my ears and cry: "Fahrenheit 451! Fahrenheit 451! Mildred! Mildred!" ([p. ii]).


RDE, finishing, 27Dec20; 15Aug23