Like most people, I was shocked to hear about the death of Ray Bradbury. It’s always strange when such prolific authors die. They’re such big names, it feels like they’ll always be there – it’s somewhat jarring to realise that these massive authors are still only human, that they too die. I had the same feeling when I heard about the death of J.D. Salinger a couple of years ago.
I wanted to say some words regarding Bradbury, and what has to be one of his most famous novels, Fahrenheit 451.
I remember when I first heard about Fahrenheit 451. A dystopian novel set in a society which burns books? As soon as I heard about it I knew I had to read this book. It was a fantastic concept, and for me, that was the novel’s most defining feature.
I have to admit that Fahrenheit 451 angered me. I didn’t like the writing style. I didn’t like the way the plotline went. I was horrified to read about Clarisse’s death, and despite my hope that she would miraculously reappear in the novel, death be damned, she did not. I expected so much more from Fahrenheit 451, and I couldn’t believe that such an amazing concept hadn’t been pushed further by Bradbury.
But despite my opinion of Fahrenheit 451, it still succeeds in doing what any book should make you do – emote. Yes, it may have been negative emotion on my part. But the opposite of love isn’t hate; rather, the opposite of love is indifference. I wasn’t indifferent to Fahrenheit 451. The mere mention of the book used to cause me to rant about it, to the astonishment of whoever had remarked about it.
The novel still made me feel. This was a book I wanted to talk about, to discuss with other people, to angrily vent my thoughts and feelings about everything regarding it. It may seem strange, but that doesn’t make the book a failure in my eyes, and I can look back on that fondly now. If I can write something which makes somebody as angry as Fahrenheit 451 did for me, then I’ll be content. The reason for my anger regarding Fahrenheit 451 was solely due to the fact that I believed so much in Bradbury’s concept; I wanted it to be amongst the best books I’d ever read. Despite my reaction upon finishing the book, I was a dedicated reader nonetheless, and you should never underestimate the power of a dedicated reader.
I definitely respect Bradbury. That has always been true. And even if there were some way for the book to be rewritten, to be crafted exactly the way I wanted it, I wouldn’t change a thing.
Bradbury himself has said some amazing things over the years. I’ll end this post with a few of my favourite Bradbury quotes, and I hope he truly rests in peace. He was an icon, a literary legend, and a very passionate man.
‘Jump, and you will find out how to unfold your wings as you fall’
‘Love is the answer to everything. It’s the only reason to do anything. If you don’t write stories you love, you’ll never make it. If you don’t write stories that other people love, you’ll never make it’
‘There are worse crimes than burning books. One of them is not reading them’