Ray Bradbury: Fahrenheit 451

  • Master Ridley. Play the man. We shall this day such a candle, by God’s grace, in England, as I trust shall never be put out“. A man named Latimer said that to a man named Nicholas Ridley, as they were being burnt alive at Oxford, for heresy, on October 16, 1555”.  (Page37)
  • “More sports for everyone, group spirit, fun, and you don’t have to think, eh? Organize and super organize super-super sports. More cartoons in books. More pictures. The mind drinks less and less. Impatience. Highways full of crowds going somewhere, somewhere, somewhere, nowhere. The gasoline refugee. Towns into motels, people in nomadic surges from place to place, following the moon tides, living tonight in the room where you slept this noon and I the night before”. Now let’s take up the minorities in our civilization, shall we? Bigger the population, the more minorities. Don’t step on the toes of the dog-lovers, the cat-lovers, doctors, lawyers… Italians, Germans, Mormons… The people in this book, this play, this TV serial are not meant to represent any actual painters, cartographers mechanics, anywhere. The bigger your market, Montag, the less you handle controversy, remember that!… Authors, full of evils thoughts, lock up your typewriters. They did. Magazines became a nice blend of vanilla tapioca… No wonder books stopped selling, the critics said. But the public, knowing what it wanted, spinning happily, let the comic books survive. There you have, Montag. It didn’t come from the government down. There was no dictum, no declaration, no censorship, to start with, no! Technology, mass exploitation, and minority pressure carried the trick, thank God. Today, thanks to them, you can stay happy all the time, you are allowed to read comics, the good old confessions, or trade journals”.  (Page54-55)
  • “With more school turning out more runners, jumpers, racers, tinkerers, grabbers and swimmers instead of examiners, critics, knower, the word intellectual, of course, became a swear word it deserved to be… Not everyone born free and equal, as the Constitution says, but everyone made equal. Each man the image of every other, then all are happy, for there are no mountains to make them cower, to judge themselves against. So! A book is a loaded gun in the house next door. Burn it… And so when the houses were finally fireproofed completely, all over the world, there was no longer need of firemen for the old purposes. They were given the new job, as custodians of our peace of mind, the focus of our understandable and rightful dread of being inferior; official censors, judges and executors… Ask yourself, What do we want in this country, above all? People want to be happy, isn’t that right? I want to be happy, people say. Well, aren’t they? Don’t we keep them moving, don’t we give them fun?”  (Page56)
  • “If you don’t want  a man unhappy politically, don’t give him two sides to a question to worry him; give him one. Better yet, give him none. Let him forget there is a such a thing as a war… Give the people contests they win by remembering the words to more popular songs or how much corn Iowa grew last year. Cram them full of non-combustible data, chock them so damned full of ‘facts’ they feel stuffed, but absolutely ‘brilliant’ with information. Then they’ll feel they’re thinking, they get a sense of motion without moving. And they’ll be happy, because facts of that sort don’t change. Don’t give them any slippery stuff like philosophy or sociology to tie things up with”.  (Page58)
  • “So now do you see why books are hated and feared? They show the pores in the face of life. The comfortable people wants only wax moon faces, poreless, hairless, expresionless. We are living in a time when flowers are trying to living on  flowers, instead of growing on good rain and black loan”.  (Page 79)
  • Everyone must leave something behind when he dies. A child or a book or a painting or a house or a wall built or a pair of shoes made. Or a garden planted. Something your hand touched some way so your soul has somewhere to go when you die, and when people look at that tree or that flower you planted, you’re there. The difference between the man who just cuts lawns and a real gardener is in the touching. The lawn-cutter might just as well not have been there at all; the gardener will be there a lifetime. (Page 149) (Page)

  • All the quotes are from Bradbury, Ray (2003): Fahrenheit 451. Simon & Schuster, Inc. New York. ISBN 978-1-4516-7331-9.

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