Con-nerd-sseur Log Book #6- Fahrenheit 451

I just finished book six from the my literary taste testing NPR‘s list of the top 100 Science Fiction and Fantasy Books. This one was a rather brief read (well, listen) but still a very good story nonetheless.

Book: Fahrenheit 451, Ray Bradbury

Time Period: December 28th-29th (traveling to and from Grandparents in Virginia)

Source: Audiobook-Westminster Library

This novel is one that I generally liked. I would definitely re-read this again. The primary reason I would re-read this is that I wasn’t as into it in the beginning. I didn’t see how the pieces were going to line up and I found Bradbury’s reading of his own work to be slightly distracting. He is a phenomenal storyteller but being used to very refined and brisk readers, I found Bradbury’s deliberative reading to be a bit slower than I am used to and his intonations were a bit off in my opinion. However, this is a minor concern in comparison to what this novel does well.

I think that my favorite parts in this were the relationship between Montag and Capt. Beatty, the tension between he and his wife, and the focus on the importance of books and literature both on a personal and societal context. The tension between Montag and his wife was done well because she is the exact opposite of him. She is content to know nothing and Montag cannot stand that books could be more than just subversive, morally muddying material that make you unhappy. I found Montag to be like any half-conscious person that just wants a little truth and life and Mildred to be the totally pleasure seeking drone that doesn’t care if there is more to life than she sees or not because she is going to see it how she wants to. This is why it was done so well, the contrast is explored well and to good effect for the themes. The tension between Montag and the Captain were also used to good effect. I like how this is parallel to O’Brien in 1984. There is a more powerful, higher ranked man in the guise of a friend that tries to dissuade our main character against his goal. This was not as suspenseful as O’Brien and Winston, but it was still used to good effect nonetheless. I particularly liked the discussion about fire, burning things away, and the importance (or lackthereof) of books to society. Lastly, this book’s exploration of the importance of free-thinking, discovery, and literature to society as a whole is quite thorough. The bit at the end with his escape from society (this was very suspenseful and I enjoyed it supremely) and finding a new place in a new world, are primarily where we discuss the importance of books. My favorite idea about this was that books are like ghosts of the past and they are what is eventually (hopefully) going to propel humanity from its phoenix-like stupor and dig the deepest grave for war.

This book was a great complement for the lingering taste of 1984 that I finished the other day. They both have very similar themes and plot arcs, but the divergences give the two stories even greater impact when paired together. In fact, thinking of the two worlds as parallel or even the same place, we see can give more shape to the novels in the book and more relation to our own world. Thus, the lingering bitterness left in your mouth by 1984’s conclusion is best paired with the semi-sweetness of Fahrenheit 451 for optimal taste. The utterly hopeless ending of 1984 left me thinking, “well, what about the power of NATURE or God that Winston said the party would fall to?,” 451 responds well to this query. The possibility that humanity can find itself again in nature, emerging from the ashes of its hubris sparked fire, and try to strive towards a hopefully brighter future is a little more satisfying for me. Conversely, the depth of detail in Orwell’s world far eclipses that of Bradbury’s. By considering the truths and social structure we see in Winston’s world to be the same as the one in 451’s more intimate telling, we can give 451 a far greater context than it presents us with and take even more from the story. Again, this is a great story, (I really cannot wait to get my hands on Illustrated Man) and it is a great pairing with 1984.

On a side note, we just reached over 200 views today. Thanks to all you guys (all 3 of you wordpressers! :D) who keep checking up on the posts, it is really gratifying to know that other people find your ideas interesting enough to read. Again, it is helpful to me, as well as yourselves, to post comments, concerns, feedback, or even a friendly “like” to make this blog even better. This is has been another con-nerd-sseur entry, enjoy the last of 2011 and I hope to share more of my reading responses with you soon!

Also, since this was such a short read, I was able to read the second book of Transmetropolitan by Warren Ellis and Y: The Last Man by Brian K. Vaughn and Pia Guerra.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Both are exceptional reads. After reading such dense subject matter with 1984 and 451, the humorous yet thoughtful material of these two graphic novels were a welcome change. Proving that it’s nice to be able to think well and hard at the world, as well as look more playfully and light at things.

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~ by theblogofmatthew on December 30, 2011.

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