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Book Review – Fahrenheit 451



This book by Ray Bradbury was part of a list of 20 must read books so I bought it and am glad I did. 

For me somehow this book seems to come to the philosophy of “objectivism” as propounded by one of my all time favourite author Ayn Rand. It’s a dark novel that depicts a world where the television has taken over people’s lives, and books are burnt. The scientists, mathematicians, thinkers and writers are systematically purged from the society and they all live in a slightly distant town just outside the city limits. They memorise entire literary works or three people memorise one work and that way pass on the great books. One fine day, everything in the city goes up in flames due to one “fireman” and then the intellectuals return and bring back free thought and books again. That’s pretty much what John Galt does in “Atlas Shrugged”…. 

Take out the intellectuals and a world of mediocre individuals will not be able to manage their lives. Fascinating but a bit far fetched and also smacks of intellectual elitism. Mediocrity is a problem, but assuming that the brilliant will remain forever brilliant and the mediocre will forever remain mediocre is assuming that late starts aren’t possible !! 

There are some amazing insights and the construction of the book is brilliant. Couldn’t put it down. It’s a must read and not just another work of fiction. Here are some excerpts that caught my attention – 

“‘There was a damn silly 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 into the middle of them. We pick up a few more people that remember, every generation.”

“‘The people have always some champion whom they set over them and nurse into greatness … this and no other is the root from which a tyrant springs; when he first appears, he is a protector.”

Enjoy the book … It is scary to think we may be in the world described here where books aren’t read and televisions have taken over our lives. Hopefully the “Kindle” continues to kindle the love of reading. I shudder to think of waking up in a world that doesn’t have books. 

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