Fahrenheit 451: 50th Anniversary Edition

Fahrenheit 451: 50th Anniversary Edition

4.1 1095
by Ray Bradbury

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Internationally acclaimed with more than 5 million copies in print, Fahrenheit 451 is Ray Bradbury's classic novel of censorship and defiance, as resonant today as it was when it was first published nearly 50 years ago.

Guy Montag was a fireman whose job it was to start fires...

The system was simple. Everyone understood it. Books were for burning ...

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Internationally acclaimed with more than 5 million copies in print, Fahrenheit 451 is Ray Bradbury's classic novel of censorship and defiance, as resonant today as it was when it was first published nearly 50 years ago.

Guy Montag was a fireman whose job it was to start fires...

The system was simple. Everyone understood it. Books were for burning ... along with the houses in which they were hidden.

Guy Montag enjoyed his job. He had been a fireman for ten years, and he had never questioned the pleasure of the midnight runs nor the joy of watching pages consumed by flames... never questioned anything until he met a seventeen-year-old girl who told him of a past when people were not afraid.

Then he met a professor who told him of a future in which people could think... and Guy Montag suddenly realized what he had to do!

Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
This quality hardcover of the Bradbury standard is being released to honor the book's 50th anniversary. With numerous book clubs adopting this title, it's worth buying a few hardbacks to go along with your existing paper editions. This reprint also includes a new introduction by the author. Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.

Product Details

Random House Publishing Group
Publication date:
Edition description:
Reissue 50th Anniversary Edition
Product dimensions:
4.17(w) x 6.87(h) x 0.56(d)
890L (what's this?)
Age Range:
14 - 18 Years

Read an Excerpt

A New Introduction


Ray Bradbury

March 12, 2003

What is there new to be said about Fahrenheit 451? I have written three or four introductions in the past thirty years trying to explain where the novel came from and how it finally arrived.

The first thing to be said is that I feel very fortunate to have survived long enough to join with people who have been paying attention to the novel in this past year.

The novel was a surprise then and is still a surprise to me.

I've always written at the top of my lungs and from some secret motives within. I have followed the advice of my good friend Federico Fellini who, when asked about his work, said, "Don't tell me what I'm doing, I don't want to know."

The grand thing is to plunge ahead and see what your passion can reveal.

During the last fifty years I have written a short 25,000-word early version of the novel titled The Fireman, which appeared in Galaxy Science Fiction magazine, and several years later added another 25,000 words for its publication by Ballantine Books.

Occupying a house with a new baby daughter, we had to consider my trying to find somewhere that was a bit quieter to do my work. I had no money at that time to rent an office, but wandering around U.C.L.A. one day I heard typing in the basement of the library and went down to see what was going on. I found that there was a room with twelve typewriters that could be rented for ten cents per half hour. Excited at the prospect, I brought a bag of dimes with me and moved into the typing room.

I didn't know what the various students were writing at their typewriters and they hardly knew, nor did I know, what I was writing.

If there is any excitement to the novel at all, I think it can best be explained by the fact that every two hours or so during the next week and a half I ran up- and downstairs and in and out of the stacks, grabbing books off the shelf, trying to find proper quotes to put in the book. I am not a researcher and my memory is not all that accurate for things that I've read in the past, so the quotes that you find in the book were those wonderful accidents where pulling a book off the shelf and opening it just anywhere at all I found an amazing sentence or paragraph that could occupy a position in the novel.

This early version took exactly nine days and I spent $9.80 on it, not realizing that the book had some sort of long life ahead.

In the years since its first publication I have written a full two-act play and spent two summers in Connecticut writing an opera based on its text. The book seems to have a life that goes on re-creating itself.

If I try to find its genesis in the years prior to 1950 I would imagine one would turn to certain stories like "Burning Bright" and a few other tales that appeared in my early books.

The main thing to call attention to is the fact that I've been a library person all of my life. I sold newspapers until I was twenty-two and had no money to attend college, but I spent three or four nights a week at the local library and fed on books over a long period of time.

Some of my early stories tell of librarians and book burners and people in small towns finding ways to memorize the books so that if they were burned they had some sort of immortality.

The main surprise for the book occurred when I wrote the short story "The Pedestrian" in 1949.

I had been accosted by the police one night while I walked on a Los Angeles street with a friend. The police wanted to know what we were doing, when walking was our aim and talking occupied us.

I was so irritated by being stopped and asked about walking that I went home and wrote the story, "The Pedestrian," concerning a future where pedestrians were arrested for using the sidewalks.

Sometime later, I took the Pedestrian for a walk and when he turned a corner he encountered a young girl named Clarisse McClellan who took a deep breath and said, "I know who you are from the smell of kerosene. You're the man who burns books."

Nine days later the novel was finished.

What a wonderful experience it was to be in the library basement to dash up and down the stairs reinvigorating myself with the touch and the smell of books that I knew and books that I did not know until that moment.

When the first version of the novel was finished, I hardly knew what I had done. I knew that it was crammed with metaphors, but the word metaphor had not occurred to me at that time in my life. It was only later in time when I got to know the word and realized that my capacity for collecting metaphors was so complete.

In the years of writing my two-act play and the opera that followed, I let my characters tell me things about their lives that were not in the book.

I have been tempted to go back and insert these truths in the old text, but this is a dangerous practice which writers must refuse. These truths, while important, could ruin a work done years before.

In writing the play my Fire Chief, Beatty, told me why he had become a burner of books.

He had once been a wanderer of libraries and a lover of the finest literature in history. But when real life diminished him, when friends died, when a love failed, when there were too many deaths and accidents surrounding him, he discovered that his faith in books had failed because they could not help him when he needed the help.

Turning on them, he lit a match.

So that is one of the fine things that came out of the play and the opera. I'm glad to be able to speak of it now and tell you what Beatty had in his background.

After the book was published, in the following years I've had hundreds of letters from readers asking me what became of Clarisse McClellan. They were so intrigued with this fascinating, strange, and quixotic girl that they wanted to believe that somewhere out in the wilderness with the book people she had somehow survived.

I resisted the temptation to bring her back to life in future editions of my novel.

I left it to François Truffaut in his film version of Fahrenheit 451 in 1966 to give Clarisse a return to life, even though he had changed her name and given her extra years of maturity, which at the time I thought was a great mistake. But she did survive to the end of the film and at that time I decided that Truffaut was correct.

When I wrote the first version of the play I allowed Clarisse to survive among the book people in the wilderness. The same practice occurred when I wrote the opera.

She was too wonderful a character to be allowed to die and I realize now that I should have allowed her to appear at the end of my book.

That being said, the book is complete and untouched. I will not go back and revise anything. I have a great respect for the young man that I was when I sat down in that basement room with a bag of dimes and plunged into the passionate activity that resulted in the final work.

So here, after fifty years, is Fahrenheit 451. I didn't know what I was doing, but I'm glad that it was done.

Introduction for this edition copyright © 2003 by Ray Bradbury

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Fahrenheit 451: 50th Anniversary Edition 4.2 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1092 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Take a step into an alternate reality in which attempted suicides are a daily occurance and firefighters are relentlessly called to start fires. That is exactly what Ray Bradbury does in his excellent forewarning of a novel, Farenheit 451. Bradbury writes futuristically about a symbolic society that takes place around the time we are currently in. The society is one in which free thought of any sort is shunned if not completely blocked out by technology. Houses are filled with TV walls, 4 to a room all playing a different show, and front porches are completely done away with in the novel. The novel centers around Guy Montag a firefighter in the society who is discovering ideas he never thought possible to have. Montag is a firefighter who makes a living burning down houses containing banned books which include anything historical or of a literary nature. He meets a strange neighborhood girl who's family is the odd-ball group of the town because they all get together and talk around a table at night. Within the discussions between Montag and the girl a notion crosses Montag's mind that is later developed when he watches a woman burn with her books rather than live without them. From this thought that maybe there is something missing from Montag's society, Montag ventures on a secretive and dangerous journey to discover what it is. During this journey Montag is hunted down, outed for concealing books, and forced to run away with other literary followers. In this journey he discovers that unlike his society believes, free thought is the true happiness. Montag and his group of literary followers are given a chance to redefine the then fast-paced, materialistic, and thoughtless society Bradbury describes. The society in which Montag lives is one that denies any opportunity for free thought. This is seen in Montag's homelife, typical to his world in which he and his wife are overcome by technology every waking moment. Mrs. Montag spends her days with her "family" as she called it in a parlor. This family consisted of three wall-sized televisions each playing a different show. T.V. has even become a thoughtless act as shown when Montag questions his wife as to what she is watching and she can mention the names of the characters but cannot tell what action is taking place, only that she is amused by it. Mrs. Montag can only dream of the addition of a fourth Wall Television to keep her eyes occupied and mind blank. The action of having 3 blaring T.V.s in one room of Bradbury's society is an exaggerated symbol for the fast paced media we do have in the world today such as using cell phones while on the computer while a T.V. drones in the background. The commercials we see on T.V. now that are 10-30 seconds long and up to 5 minutes consecutively are a real life representation of the short of thought society Bradbury warned against and feared in Farenheit 451. To enhance this theme of thoughtlessness in Bradbury's novel people in his society do not even have a chance to think while falling asleep. Mrs. Montag wears her seashell radio to bed every night. This seashell is not full of ocean sounds but instead radio and chatter that run through her ears and her mind all night while she sleeps. This defeats even the slightest chance for sound thought and therefore exemplifies once again Bradbury's warning and novel's theme that the media and technology we use, taken over the limit will prohibit thought and stop progress. Bradbury's novel Faren
princessgabby More than 1 year ago
It was astounding to me how spot on the author had pegged much of the future while writing this book in 1953! He writes of a future where most people are obsessed with “Reality TV” and there are Televisions the size of your living room wall. Children have very little discipline or self control and school shootings, and teenage driving fatalities are a common occurrence. The government is in a war, but telling people not to worry about the details or the outcome. Everyone is self absorbed and obsessed with being happy, so they want things quick and fast; every task requires a short cut. This means that Books are a waste of time; all they do is make people stop and think and why would anyone want that? So reading books is against the law. Don’t get caught, your neighbors just might turn you in, and then the Firemen will come to burn your books and the house the books are in and just maybe you too. But what happens when a Fireman gets curious about the books he’s burning and wants to know what’s in them? Read it to find out, I highly recommend it!
TheBatman More than 1 year ago
I read this as a part of my "classics exploration" for this summer. I will say that this is a great book which I could not put down; I ended up finishing it within 4 or 5 hours. I would suggest everyone read this at least once. Bradbury paints an almost dystopian future, where the role of the fire fighter is rewritten and the lives of the common person are much more immersed in media and sports. The protagonist comes to light with these problems of society, and tries to make it right with deadly results.
voraciousreader24 More than 1 year ago
This is a powerfully disturbing 'must read' for everyone. A prophetic telling of the future, Bradbury has such a brilliant grasp of language and style as he tells a highly upsetting story in an easy and accessible manner. With Suzanne Collins Hunger Games sparking a new generation of dystopian literature, Bradbury was the master with his futuristic world in which, gasp, books are burned and reading is outlawed. If you have not yet read this masterpiece, don't waste any more time. Do it.
abel1389 More than 1 year ago
Farenheit 451 is one of my top 5 books at all time not because it's inventive or refreshing in the world of modern literature, but because it's so blatantly accurate. It tells the story of a man who is persecuted for his newfound love of literature in a future where literature is illegal. Now, this may seem like a crazy idea to some, but the society that is presented in this book is downright scary in that we're very nearly living in it. As it stands in 2011, we are beginning to witness the commercial necessity of literature in a physical format disappear. With things like the Nook (no offense, B&N), hard copies of books are headed the way of complete luxury, and possibly beyond that they are headed the way of taboo. Ray Bradbury's target with Farenheit 451 is censorship, and literature is currently on the doorstep of absolutely horrifying censorship possibilities. In time, it's entirely possible that hought-provoking, heart-and-soul writing will be a button press away from extinction to the wealthy man who disagrees with what is being said. Ray Bradbury is not a strict science-fictioner, so you don't have to be a sci-fi fan to enjoy his work. I would recommend most anything in his catalogue. And I would recommend this one specifically if you like to be given something to really think about with your reading. This is the kind of book that you can really sit down and talk about; it has some substance to it, as far as real world applications. If you like your fiction strictly fictional... well, this may not be the book for you. In closing, I would like to add one more thing about how I came to read this book. I read Farenheit 451 at the recommendation of my best friend; we were not allowed to read it for our English class.
NinjaGirl13 More than 1 year ago
I had to read this book for school and I was worried that it would be one of those long and boring books that you had to read for school but I was pleasantly surprised. This book has an important message in it and really made me think more about our current society and it's possible future. I reccomend it to everyone I know that asks me to name some good books that they should read and I always say Farhenheit 451 first. This book really makes the whole world different and opens your eyes to the important issues our society faces at the moment and what might happen in the future. I highly reccomend this book!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury starts off slow. The pages seem to stick together, coming untwined. The main character Guy Montag gives the impression as if he knows everything. He makes the whole scene that he is in is all planned. He expected what happened next for a few pages. The beginning was very confusing, because it mentioned things that not yet were explained. As I read on it became clearer, and clearer. Some parts became confusing again, but the entire book was well written. Clarisse is no doubt my favorite character. Her eyes were open to the world, nothing could stop her. She saw the world in a way no one else did, because no one else did. She was, literally, one of a kind in the world of Fahrenheit 451. She opened Montag's eyes, because they were blinded from the truth. She did with the simplest question, "'are you happy?'" Fireman, in the story, changed over time. They burned the books people read. The Government shut the eyes of its entire population, or so they thought. Some held on, held on to their books, and their reality. Are world can relate in a way to the world of Fahrenheit 451. They were glued to televisions; they also beat up, or made fun of the one that were different. In their world no one questions, they weren't even given choices to things, such as their president. Montag was what he eventually started hating, a fireman. I did not enjoy the scenes with his wife involved, she seemed so simple. She was even more than simple she was terribly, and utterly boring. I enjoyed the author's word choice. He selected big words that I was not familiar with. He always had me either grabbing a dictionary, or using context clues to figure out a word. He really increased my list of vocabulary. I did not enjoy everything though. I did not like how he always lingered with his explanations. But in all it was a very good book. He really had me reading, and guessing to the end.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I enjoyed Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury alot. Even though it is a challenging and old style worded book, it still has a good story. The characters are intriguing and the plot summary sometimes is slow but at the end of the second section, the book begins to turn very exciting and will keep readers attention and keep them guessing. Mostly sci fi or fantasy readers will like.
kadiylplaey More than 1 year ago
Fahrenheit 451 is a novel that takes place far in the future where intelligence is altered by people who fear the knowledge that is gained from books.Firemen no longer put fires out but started them, burning everything amongst the path to former knowledge subscribed in books. The book has broken romance between a fireman named Montag and his wife. As she does unspeakable things to the man after he shows her a secret stash of books that destroys his life forever. Montag witnessed much destruction through the book all at the expense of knowledge. The book is a reminder of why we need to appreciate the knowledge that we are able to obtain. In this future setting the books were lost to the fear of people thinking for themselves. No book was left behind in the roaring flame. People no longer sat around and talked they were not able to simply explore the depths of their mind. The author uses imagery like no other as you read you feel like you were placed strait into an alternate universe. I feel that the book is a way to tell us that you may not appreciate the books that authors work many years to write as much as we need to and that it may affect our future generations in a negative way. There were many kind characters in the book trying to help Montag in his distress but evil took over. People died horrible deaths through injection and being burnt alive. This is the kind of evil that made books the enemy of society but everyone was blind to the fact that it was the people doing it to themselves and not the books corrupting their minds with false knowledge. The novel opens your mind to what is going on in your life at the exact moment you are reading and the fact that it could all change by one person deciding that they feel what they read is all false. Things change on the drop of a dime just as during the Nazi war when Hitler tried killing all the Jews this aspect of life is very important to remember and Fahrenheit 451 reminds you of this fact. The novel has such diverse moods and settings it is a great read for anyone who does not like to read books, because it engages them into the words of a man that spent so much time writing the novel for us to read.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Have you ever wondered what it would be like to live in a world where books didn't exist? Well that's almost the case in Fahrenheit 451. The only difference is that in the novel books aren't allowed to exist, although they do still exist. Montag is a fireman, but not one that you would think of in today's world. He was paid to burn books, houses, and the people if that's what needed to happen. Montag doesn't see why this is wrong, because he has never experienced any other world. His eyes are opened during this novel to a different view, one that he may just agree with. Bradbury's theme in Fahrenheit 451 was this, books bring knowledge and individuality to the world, them being banned isn't going to rid the world of disagreement and war, it just gives people less free range to think on their own. As you read the novel you will see that people aren't stopping reading because it's the law, just as everyone doesn't stop speeding or drinking and driving. There is something so spectacular in those books that people would risk their lives to protect them, and maybe if everyone could find that same wealth of knowledge the books wouldn't be banned. I believe the people of the novel think they live in a Utopia, because they're so sheltered from the real issues of the world. Montag's wife Mildred spends all day talking to people of her "parlor" because she has made those people a reality. She doesn't realize that books are a bigger wealth of knowledge then those parlor walls, and by reading those books she could gain individuality, and become aware of the past. People are scared to read because they think they're going to find out something atrocious. By taking away the books the government has taken away any chance of this society's survival. People need to know their history, they need to know the mistakes of the past so that they can learn from them, and the history resides in books. I believe that this book is worth reading. It can be dry in parts, but it has a good lesson to be learned. Individual thinking and knowledge are something we can not live without. Books bring that to people, and although some people don't enjoy reading as much as they enjoy watching TV, it should be offered just the same.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book was extremely interesting. The author was very descriptive throughout the entire novel. His use of imagery gives readers a detailed look at each and every character and setting.

The plot line of this book was also very interesting. Ray Bradbury takes the readers into a very dark and ignorant world, but shows how there is a glimmer of light and hope.

I would recommend this book to anyone who seeks a good read. Any reader that likes to read a book with twists and turns will love this novel. This book will also build the reader's vocabulary with its intelligent sentence structure.
Ell-V-Stellavine More than 1 year ago
Just checked this out today and read it all. Amazing. Quite disturbing in my opinion, and amazingly written, with potent symbolism and underlying themes. I kind of want to read it again already.
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SPOILERS. I feel like I'm the only one who didn't like this book. I read this for my English class last week, and I really didn't like it. It's not because I didn't get the message or because it was an assignment rather than something to read for fun, either. I thought it was pretty interesting for the first part and half of the second. After that it went down hill. It's like he ran out of time writing it so he started rushing everything. It was way too fast paced to the point that some of the events just seem pointless to add in. And the you think something big is going to happen throughout the whole book but it never does! He meets that group of book people and you assume that they'll do something really great but all the do is talk about books for 2 pages, eat some bacon, and then it ends with them going off into the city. COMPLETELY ANTI CLIMACTIC. This book had such a great concept and it sounded so good to me when I chose it, but it was a giant disappointment. Too bad. 
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Alzora More than 1 year ago
I greatly enjoyed Fahrenheit 451 and recommend it to all science fiction readers and anyone who likes a book that makes you think. Although Ray Bradbury’s style of giving long descriptions, bleak dialogue, and well-shown character actions is not my favorite type of writing style, I think that this is a well written book. Bradbury’s word choice is excellent and he has a large vocabulary, which I loved because I was learning so many new, interesting words. His book flowed very well from page-to-page and had a gripping plot. His characters were developed and all contributed to the ending of the story and the tone of his book created a range of emotions for me. Fahrenheit 451 is the type of book that you can come back to and learn something new every time.
Tunguz More than 1 year ago
Fahrenheit 451 is one of the most famous works of science fiction, and with "Brave New World" and "1984" represents one of the most memorable and haunting dystopias. In a future world, books are banned and firemen actually set fires instead of extinguishing them. The state exercises a form of social control through controlling what sort of information people have access to. It turns out that not all books are banned, only those that we would today consider "great works" - Plato, Shakespeare, The Bible, Darwin, etc. For me one of the biggest surprises about Fahrenheit 451 was the rationale that was offered for the burning of those books. In a nutshell, they offended politically correct sensibilities and the authorities felt that they would undermine the social cohesion. This expunging of the classics from the culture has an uncanny resonance with the attempts over past few decades to expunge them from the undergraduate liberal arts curriculum. And rationale is also similar: these books are not "diverse" enough and may offend the sensibilities of an ever-increasing list of "minorities." It is hard not to wonder if a milder, softer version of dystopian future that Bradbury was worried about in the early 1950s has not in fact arrived. Bradbury's writing and ideas are somewhere between those of George Orwell and Philip K. Dick. His style is very engaging, and even poetic. His writing is at its best when one of his characters engages in a prolonged monolog. However, the plot development could use some improvement. There is very little in terms of transition from one scene to the next, and most scenes are overly compressed. It is very hard to follow the plot developments at times. Nonetheless, Bradbury is a wonderful stylist and unlike much of science fiction this book is a pleasure to read on a purely literally level as well as for its sweeping ideas. As a last note, I found it incredibly ironic that I read this book on Kindle. Based on this alone I am fairly optimistic that reading and great books will not only survive but in fact thrive well into the 21st century.