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Fahrenheit 451: A Novel
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Fahrenheit 451: A Novel

4.1 484
by Ray Bradbury

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Ray Bradbury’s internationally acclaimed novel Fahrenheit 451 is a masterwork of twentieth-century literature set in a bleak, dystopian future.

Ray Bradbury’s internationally acclaimed novel Fahrenheit 451 is a masterwork of twentieth-century literature set in a bleak, dystopian future.

Guy Montag is a fireman. In his world,


Ray Bradbury’s internationally acclaimed novel Fahrenheit 451 is a masterwork of twentieth-century literature set in a bleak, dystopian future.

Ray Bradbury’s internationally acclaimed novel Fahrenheit 451 is a masterwork of twentieth-century literature set in a bleak, dystopian future.

Guy Montag is a fireman. In his world, where television rules and literature is on the brink of extinction, firemen start fires rather than put them out. His job is to destroy the most illegal of commodities, the printed book, along with the houses in which they are hidden.

Montag never questions the destruction and ruin his actions produce, returning each day to his bland life and wife, Mildred, who spends all day with her television “family.” But then he meets an eccentric young neighbor, Clarisse, who introduces him to a past where people didn’t live in fear and to a present where one sees the world through the ideas in books instead of the mindless chatter of television.

When Mildred attempts suicide and Clarisse suddenly disappears, Montag begins to question everything he has ever known. He starts hiding books in his home, and when his pilfering is discovered, the fireman has to run for his life.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
“Brilliant . . . Startling and ingenious . . . Mr. Bradbury’s account of this insane world, which bears many alarming resemblances to our own, is fascinating.” —Orville Prescott, The New York Times

“A masterpiece . . . A glorious American classic everyone should read: It’s life-changing if you read it as a teen, and still stunning when you reread it as an adult.” —Alice Hoffman, The Boston Globe

“The sheer lift and power of a truly original imagination exhilarates . . . His is a very great and unusual talent.” —Christopher Isherwood, Tomorrow

“One of this country’s most beloved writers . . . A great storyteller, sometimes even a mythmaker, a true American classic.” —Michael Dirda, The Washington Post

The Barnes & Noble Review
Fahrenheit 451 is set in a grim alternate-future setting ruled by a tyrannical government in which firemen as we understand them no longer exist: Here, firemen don't douse fires, they ignite them. And they do this specifically in homes that house the most evil of evils: books.

Books are illegal in Bradbury's world, but books are not what his fictional -- yet extremely plausible -- government fears: They fear the knowledge one pulls from books. Through the government's incessant preaching, the inhabitants of this place have come to loathe books and fear those who keep and attempt to read them. They see such people as eccentric, dangerous, and threatening to the tranquility of their state.

But one day a fireman named Montag meets a young girl who demonstrates to him the beauty of books, of knowledge, of conceiving and sharing ideas; she wakes him up, changing his life forever. When Montag's previously held ideology comes crashing down around him, he is forced to reconsider the meaning of his existence and the part he plays. After Montag discovers that "all isn't well with the world," he sets out to make things right.

A brilliant and frightening novel, Fahrenheit 451 is the classic narrative about censorship; utterly chilling in its implications, Ray Bradbury's masterwork captivates thousands of new readers each year. (Andrew LeCount)

Product Details

Simon & Schuster
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5.60(w) x 8.50(h) x 0.90(d)
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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

Meet the Author

Ray Bradbury (1920–2012) was the author of more than three dozen books, including Fahrenheit 451, The Martian Chronicles, The Illustrated Man, and Something Wicked This Way Comes, as well as hundreds of short stories. He wrote for the theater, cinema, and TV, including the screenplay for John Huston’s Moby Dick and the Emmy Award–winning teleplay The Halloween Tree, and adapted for television sixty-five of his stories for The Ray Bradbury Theater. He was the recipient of the 2000 National Book Foundation’s Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters, the 2007 Pulitzer Prize Special Citation, and numerous other honors.

Brief Biography

Los Angeles, California
Date of Birth:
August 22, 1920
Place of Birth:
Waukegan, Illinois
Attended schools in Waukegan, Illinois, and Los Angeles, California

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Fahrenheit 451 4.1 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 485 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I enjoyed Fahrenheit 451. True, it's hard to understand sometimes. I think what really made this book stand out to me was not the plot, but the motifs and symbolism. If you read this book just for plot, I will tell you that you will be confused and disappointed. The glory of this book is in how Ray Bradbury uses symbolism and motif. When I say motif, I mean like a theme. Like fire and water. Bradbury often uses fire to represent ignorance in the book, and water to represent knowledge. Or masks and mirrors. Bradbury will talk about some of the characters (usually the ones who are following the crowd, like the Montags) having "masks," while other characters (those who are different like Clarisse and Faber) are described as with mirrors. If you want to really read this book, I recommend getting one of those literature guides to read along with Fahrenheit. If you know the symbolism behind the book, you will enjoy it much more.
Nikki_in_Ponchatoula More than 1 year ago
God bless you Ray. You gave us a vision of what might happen and so much of what you said did. Traffic cameras, the death of real conversation, the creation of an electronic family and social media. You will be greatly missed.
cllhnstev More than 1 year ago
Written 50 years ago but still rings true in describing today's culture if you look at the themes metaphors,symbols and the message he's trying to tell. I think people who label it boring are just reading it literally and expecting a science fiction thriller.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I feel bad for all of the people who said this book was stupid. Not to offend anyone, but if you really get it and understand what it's saying then it has a really deep message. I get how its hard to understand because there are so many metaphors but if you think about it it is so much like our world today and this guy wrote it like 50 years ago. Just the fact that i am writing this review on an ereader and not actually having a conversation depicts what he wrote.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
A little bit of a hard read, but if you liked 1984 or other dystopian novels, this will be great for you! Powerful, thoughtful, and amazing. My only point is that the ending wasn't as conclusive as I would've liked but still great.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I am in 7th grade but i still found this book very interestinh
JakeNJ More than 1 year ago
First, I would like to state that I really like this book, but also fear that what was written as fiction predicting reality is coming true in more ways than one. I would also like to state that I want to write about the book and then off the book, if you can say that. The main character, Guy Montag, is a fireman, but instead of putting fires out, he starts them for one purpose, to burn those objects that are feared to cause negative emotion, books. While the books are not really disallowed by the government, they are objects that deemed dangerous and those who harbor them. At first it seems that it is another despotic novel where the characters are fearful by what government or as we have seen, "Big Brother" in 1984, is enforcing as a rule of law, but it is even more than that. As we find out, the books can be burned in more ways then one and that is where the object off the book, the topic and how it came to live even more interesting than even the novel itself, which I will touch in a little bit. What we also see, what Ray Bradbury talks about is in house parlors. The shows where the viewer interacts with the show, so as per what we have seen recently, reality shows, but with interactive aspect to them. The viewer is not just watching the shows, but also being fed information that they want them to think, feel and live by. Then of course the sleeping "brainwashing" and so it goes on and on, on the daily 24 hour basis. It is interesting that while reading this book, we find out more about what our society is doing now, while reading something that was written a few decades before. The books didn't just disappear and did not get outlawed, but the viewer became abscessed with the "family" in the parlor shows. The books started to be less and less paid attention to, hence the opportune moment for the government to step in and put the viewer in front of the screen and away from the books. Government seized the moment when people distanced themselves from reading and educating themselves, therefore fallen prey to whatever they were being fed via TV shows. Then of course as we find out everything else follows. I like an interesting point and concept what made this book possible and grow to its fruition. In this version of the novel, we have "Fahrenheit 451", but also explanations, praises and positive critique by various writers. We also have explanation by the author himself. Why the book is called "Fahrenheit 451", what and when it gained such clever title and why the author decided to write about this topic. One of the very interesting points here is that there is more than one way to "burn" the books. One is the physically burn them in the fire, as Stalin, Hitler and many other tyrants have done. There is also another way to do it, as Ray Bradbury points out. If you are not reading the books, changing their content, taking out words and even characters to "please" the general public or as Ray points out, suit the needs to minorities, who want something changed, therefore killing and burning the very meaning of the book itself, literary burning it. The concept, the title, the meaning behind this novel, is absolutely genius. It is in the same genre and level of well written novels, as "We", "Brave New World", "1984" and another one, which I have not yet read, but what actually ignited (no punt intended) the idea for Mr Bradbury to write this novel, "Darkness at Noon".
B_Wiggs More than 1 year ago
Ray Bradbury opens the world of reading to the reader in a world that leaves it undiscovered. When reading it for the first time, in eighth grade, I was astonished and allured by the premise of the book, that being books. A book about books! At the age of 13 and 14, some scenes were hard to picture reading it, but that's the great thing about reading; if you don't understand it the first time, you go back and read it again. Since then, I've currently have read the book for the third time and clearly understand what happened to Montag's wife during the night. Looking back I loved it then and love it even more now because I went back to see the changes and stagnant feelings that socially encompass our world. Fahrenheit 451 reflects our reality like a mirror, just like Clarisse does to Montag, and we have Ray to thank for that. I'll never read an e-book because I know, and I see it my classmates disdain, that I will soon be desensitized towards books in print. What's more personal, warm and inviting than a nice, old and wrinkly book? 
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I never read Fahrenheit 451 during the 60' or 70's but I'd heard of the book. As I read it now as a senior citizen, I saw a lot of similarities in issues that are current nowadays. As the featured book of the Big Read, the book sparked very spirited and book discussions and aevery discussion took a different path on varied topics brought up.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book is great for reports or even just casual reading. Total Must Read!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
6 words. It was a pleasure to burn. (And read over and over again)
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
A truly ageless masterpiece!! The writing is engaging. The plot is very compelling, and how it still relates to our own society evrn today is quite amazing. Bradbury created something incredible!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Loved it, though the beginning was really slow.
RBradbury More than 1 year ago
This book is a wake up call to life as we know it. Taking place in the future it not only exploits the endless possibilities of what would happen in the future if we choose to neglect our: opinions and emotions but it also shines light on the endless fight, that man refuses to give up on in order, to resurrect from it's mistakes. Truly honoring one of the best scientific writer's of all time. Bradbury simply tells the story of Montag a firefighter who unlike the rest questions his very sanity after meeting a young girl Clarrisse unlike the rest. With the countless allusions, this book adopts broad time periods from authors from the victorian era and even ancient myths back in egyptian times. In the future where books are banned and roaring tv's take there place, people just stand in line and do as they are told the regular robots and people who aren't so adhesive to the rules are frowned upon and might even turn up dead. Teens kill each other in intentional car acciendents, people overdose on pills only to have their stomachs vaccumed out leaving them to do it over and over again, women who have constant abortions and husbands, and a war that seems to take place throughout the world and within the soceity.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I normally give books I read 5 stars, because I chose them because I knew beforehand that I would like them. But this is an odd book. I did enjoy the fact that it was deeper than what the writing said, but I also found it slightly irritating when the book ended and the rest was reviews. I have to do a book report on this, so I hope I'm able to!
thomashaynes More than 1 year ago
I really enjoyed Fahrenheit 451, it was hard to read at the beginning of the book, I wont lie, but as I read along and along, and got into   the plot, I began to understand what was happening and the themes Bradbury was trying to point out to us.  The book itself was not made to understand the plot, but was to understand the symbolism Bradbury used, which was really impure ssive.  This book is definitely for you  if your into the science  fiction type of literature as Bradbury makes incredi ble references and predictions to things we use today, while writing this in the early 50's... But, as a firefighter who lights things (books) up instead of putting them out, you might want a literature guide to help you out along the way, since it gets a little fuzzy at times.  The characters in the story, Guy Montag and Clarrise, lead the way for all the rebels to come out of their shells and prove the government of their wrong-doing.  Mildred Montag, the “wife” of Guy is an ordinary person in the emotionless world, not caring about anything that happens to herself or anyone for that matter.  Many other characters will come up in this book with strange or unforeseeable identities. The entire country, which is depicted as the near future of America, lives in a dystopian society that is surprisingly and mysteriously cut off from the rest of the earth.  In this world, no one shows love, or any emotion at that, in the meaningless time.  Books are forbidden in the country, allowing the government to have more control over more uneducated people who stare at giant screens with colorful images for most of the day.  To those who do not abide by the strict laws laid down by the government, will be hunted down by a hound ready to kill.  This isn't the average hound, as this creature is a robotic dog.  The mechanical hound has a “four inch hollow steel needle” coming from its snout ready to inject any person holding books with morphine.  The depressed world has people constantly attempting or considering suicide regularly.  This was my first ever science fiction novel and has set the bar high for the rest of them, with the amazing storytelling of Ray Bradbury leading the way, this is honestly a must read to anyone who enjoys a novel in their hands.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
It was a good read. Wished the ending was better though.
Beamer_426 More than 1 year ago
 I personally enjoyed this book, although I thought it had some more boring parts. I thought some  parts had to much going on and made me confused. I was disappointed when Clarisse never  returned. It never specifically clarified that Clarisse even died, it was more of a possibility or  suggestion. I thought Fahrenheit 451 expressed the importance of knowledge very well.  I think that Ray Bradbury is an extremely creative person to have come up with an excellent  novel like this with such an out of the box idea. I loved the ending and how mysterious it is.  Clarisse could have found Montag, Montag could have fallen in love for real, he and the book  people could have changed the laws and taught the people how important books really are. It left lots of room for creativity at the end, so that you as the reader could made conclusions for  yourself. It doesn't tell you if Faber was ok or if Mildred died set in her old ways. Fahrenheit 451  was an excellent book, and had no imperfections what soever, I personally thought the book was  not my type. I enjoy books with a little more love and happiness. I overall thought this book was okay.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Loved this book.
GraceBeagles More than 1 year ago
This book is about a firefighter who burns books and houses, instead of putting them out. Ray Bardbury has a very different style of writing. This book was slightly confusing for me, some of the descriptions I did not understand until my English teacher explained them to the class. Overall, the book had a good message, and I liked how it ended with the Hobos being able to start over in the city.
sarahp0 More than 1 year ago
This book is about books being banned. People are not allowed to read books and if they have books then their house will be burned down. No one really has feelings for anything and do not communicate well. Montag gets a different perspective and tries to change the city.
Anonymous 5 days ago
In Fahrenheit 451, Bradbury effectively shows his purpose in writing this book. He used his own fears as he began to see the advancement of technology many years ago with what the future might hold for society as a result in this book to try to warn the readers about how our society might be one day. The development of the story he wrote correlates with what he believed could happen to society in the future as a result of developing technology. It turns out he wasn't too far off with how today's society is now. In society today, people are fast paced. They want to drive fast as they do in the book, and want speed in technology. They don't want to have to wait for something to load. They want everything done as soon as possible. Society is fast paced now just as the society in Fahrenheit 451 is. People also watch a lot of TV. Those who watch reality TV may feel more connected to those or see those people more as their "family" than their actual family because they may pay more attention to watching TV over being with their real family. This is similar in the book since Guy's wife Mildred spends her time watching TV because she prefers being glued to the big screen spread across the wall rather than her husband's company. She sees her TV family more as her family than her husband. There is also the important, and biggest aspect in the book that the firefighters, including Guy Montag, burn the books. They don't prevent fires; they ironically start fires in this futuristic society. Books of all kinds become illegal and they are forced to burn them even though few people in the society try to hide them and keep them. One woman even sacrifices herself because she loved books that much; she wanted to die with it. She didn't want to live in a world without books. The fact that books are illegal in this book can, in a way, portray to today's society once again. Although books aren't illegal, they might as well be since a growing number of people don't enjoy reading for fun. Many only read when they have to, such as for an assignment. The number of people who read just because is decreasing over time. Even those who do read may read on phones or tablets instead of actual paperback books. Some don't see a point in reading at all because of today's technology and they would rather watch TV, play on their electronics, etc. However, despite the new trend not to read, there are some who do enjoy it just as that woman who sacrificed herself in the book did and some others who tried to hide their prized possessions. The illegalization of books in Fahrenheit 451 is one of the biggest warnings that Bradbury gives besides the fact that technology would take over and cause people to not communicate with each other but rather spend their time on their phones instead. Bradbury is effective in his warning to society in the way he writes this book set in a futuristic society with his unique ideas of technology advancement and illegal books in the time this book was published in 1953, years before technology took a major role in our society today.
Anonymous 9 days ago
Anonymous 28 days ago
Make America Great Again!
Anonymous 5 months ago
Eye opener They say no one can predict the future, but that’s not true, in the novel “Fahrenheit 451” by Ray Bradbury it’s scary how they got predictions correct. The main character goes to learn how much power books can carry and tries to salvage them; however, the whole society goes against him. In this world everyone just wants to be sheep and they follow what they feel what’s most comfortable. All of the people are brain dead, they sit around watching t.v and have seashells in their ears so they can’t think for themselves. This is what they world has resorted into now. People can’t even read for themselves anymore, they go to audiobooks. They’re all stuck on their devices and have no clue what is going on around them. For those who care for education and values, this book is right for them. Montage is the savior in this world. It help motivate me to become more of a creator and leader rather than a crowd follower. It can only take one person to spark a whole movement. Martin Luther King jr, Walt Disney, Gandhi, etc. These people have made such an impact on this world that even in death they still have a huge influence. This book can help create creators and give thinkers hope for a smarter world tomorrow. From one degree more, books burn. A whole movement can be sparked, from one person. This beautiful novel helped me turn into a slightly more avid reader.