Wednesday, August 21, 2013

"There Must Be Things in Books, Things We Can't Imagine" (From the Archives)

I will take literally any opportunity I get to talk about my favorite book, Fahrenheit 451. Since I first read Fahrenheit when I was in high school and another school year has just begun across the country, I thought I'd share some of my thoughts about the book with you in another From the Archives post.


One of the greatest touchstones of my life is, and has been for a number of years, Ray Bradbury's Fahrenheit 451. I have read it multiple times, written numerous papers about it both in high school and college, and given copies of it to my father and my best guy friend, among a few others. It means that much to me.

I've never been able to properly explain my attachment to Fahrenheit. Part of it is the batshit craziness that is Clarisse. Part of it is the near-android detachment of Mildred. Part of it is the dedication that Faber shows to literature. Part of it is the megalomaniacal antics of Beatty. A larger part of it has to do with that greatest of Firemen, Guy Montag.

But mostly it's about the writing itself. There is one passage that I repeatedly point to above all others to showcase the simple beauty of Bradbury's language: "[...T]he heart is suddenly shattered, the body falls in separate motions, and the blood is astonished to be freed on the air; the brain squanders its few precious memories and, puzzled, dies" (158). For me, words like that represent the ultimate culmination of centuries of literature that came before; it is poetry, it is drama, it is truth, it is fantastic. It makes me want to be a better writer.

I could expound upon the merits of Fahrenheit at length. But, this being a blog, I feel that it is not the proper forum for doing so. However, I will leave you with the truest words I have ever encountered, from the coda: "There is more than one way to burn a book. And the world is full of people running about with lit matches. Every minority [...] feels it has the will, the right, the duty to douse the kerosene, light the fuse" (176-7). And it is because of Bradbury that so many authors have been willing to break free from such oppression--he proved that he could do it, and so should we.

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