Ray Bradbury?s Dystopia

Imagine firemen coming to your house to start a fire
when they find out about your stash of books and being hunted down
for the crime of reading. Ray Bradbury imagined such a world 50
years ago when he wrote Fahrenheit 451. The title refers
to the temperature at which paper will ignite.

Half a century later, the public is still on fire for the book.
?Last year,? writes John J. Miller in WSJ.com?s Opinion
Journal
, ?Fahrenheit 451 reached No. 1 on the Los
Angeles Times
best-seller list after Mayor Jim Hahn made it
the centerpiece of a citywide reading program.? And in honor of its
upcoming golden anniversary, Ballantine Books will release a
special edition next month. Although he?s written 30 books and
hundreds of short stories, poems, essays, and screenplays, Bradbury
may best be remembered for this work of science fiction that Miller
says is appreciated by teachers and librarians for its ?celebration
of literacy as the hallmark of civilization.?

Forget burning books, today Bradbury?s biggest concern is that
people just aren?t reading them. ?The education system in this
country is just terrible, and we?re not doing anything about it,?
Bradbury says. Interestingly, Miller points out, the censorship
described in Fahrenheit 451 was not initially forced upon
the public by a harsh government. ?Rather,? Miller writes, ?it
seeped up from the indifferent masses.?

In the book, the protagonist ends up on the run from the law,
ultimately discovering a no man?s land where social outcasts spend
their days as living, human books, each person having committed to
memory the entire contents of one indispensable volume of
literature, determined to keep it alive. Reminds me of some degreed
intellectuals I know, writers and the like, who spend their days
and nights working the bookstore aisles of Bones and Nibbles for
just barely more than minimum wage, all for the love of
books.
?Anne Geske

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Ray
Bradbury?s Dystopia

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