Wednesday, 27 October 2010

Dystopian Fiction – Fahrenheit 451

Yesterday I wrote about A Clockwork Orange, which is a typical and very famous dystopian novel. Today I’m going to continue with another novel that we read last week, because there is something funny about this one if you compare the film to the book and you live in my neighbourhood. The name of this novel is Fahrenheit 451 and it is written by Ray Bradbury in 1953.

Fahrenheit 451 is the temperature at which book-paper catches fire and burns. And by reading this first sentence you catch the essence of this novel. Books are forbidden in this dystopian world, and the firemen there do not put out fires like they do in our world, they burn books. No one is allowed to read or own books, but some people try to hide some in their houses, but they usually end up with their houses burned down. The mechanical hound of the fire department is tracking down those who are trying to preserve and read books in the society, and no one escapes this hound. No one but the main character Guy Montag, who is a fireman himself. He is extremely unhappy and is tired of the state trying to control everyone, and he is the narrative of which we read the story.

This novel is very dystopian, because of the way the state is. They are trying to control everyone no matter what, and by burning books they are sure that no one will be able to understand how it used to be, and how it should be. The state wants to be much smarter than the average joe, and this is a very scary concept as we today cannot imagine what it would be like to be told what we can and cannot do. This novel makes us realise some intimidating questions about how we should prevent this from happening to us, and perhaps makes us realise how privileged we are for being able to read and collect knowledge.

As a dystopia is rather negative, I found something really amusing when we were looking at the first part of the film based on this book during our lecture. Youtube is brilliant in so many ways, and you can actually watch films here, and Fahrenheit 451 is one film you can watch in 18 parts. So during the first part, after about two minutes, you get to see the firemen going out on a call to a dystopian neighbourhood. Well here is the funny part; the neighbourhood that is shown in this film is actually the neighbourhood I am living in now. So apparently I live in a dystopian neighbourhood where I am not controlled by the state, but are actually having a pretty amazing life. I could not help but laugh when we saw this and I just had to share it here. So enjoy the book, or the film, or both, and perhaps we are all living in a dystopian neighbourhood to some extent.

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