World Without Books

Fahrenheit 451
by Ray Bradbury
PS3503 B798F Central Library

Movie adaptations have been made of it, scholars have talked much about it and libraries have made a point of keeping multiple copies of it. But for some reason, I’ve not read this classic from the 50s till now.

As I started reading it, I had my doubts about whether modern readers would be able to relate to the issues highlighted by Ray Bradbury since five decades have passed since.

Fahrenheit 451 is about a repressive, futuristic society where book burning is carried out regularly. Books and the knowledge they contained are considered divisive and pose great danger, not only to the well-being of individuals but also to society as a whole. In this bookless society, individuals are encouraged to watch their “walls” (i.e. television) and spend time with their “family” (i.e. characters from various shows).

Fireman no. 451 has a job which he loves- that of setting fires to books. He senses the first stirrings of change when one particular book burning encounter ended with a book owner willingly burnt along with her precious tomes. This, along with a fateful friendship with a young girl, helped him to question and eventually, abandon his long held beliefs.

This novel is about the power of knowledge and those who would do anything to withhold it from society. It warns of the dangers of thoughtless censorship and the emptiness of a bookless life.

So are these issues still relevant today? You be the judge.

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