Next week is Banned Books Week. We will run a series of activities at school, including online competitions.
In the graphic above author Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451 is highlighted. The dystopian novel has been banned for many reasons since its publication in 1953 but it is still taught in many high schools around the world. Here’s what Shmoop has to say about the book:
Fahrenheit 451 tells the story of a futuristic world in which books are banned and burned, TV is everyone’s drug of choice, and independent thinking is basically illegal. Ray Bradbury first wrote the tale as a short story called “Bright Phoenix” in 1947. The work progressed to adolescence as a novella called The Fireman, and finally became a full-grown novel in 1953. This was Bradbury’s first Big Important Serious Work, though he was already famous for science fiction stories like his 1950 collection The Martian Chronicles. These stories put Bradbury on the map, but Fahrenheit got his name on the literary A list.
While the novel does touch on the dangers of censorship, Bradbury was adamant that this was not his focus. The novel is about the dangers of television, he said, and his fears that such mindless entertainment would replace recreational free thinking. Remember that in the 1950s color TV was the hot new thing; it represented the burgeoning empire of leisure. Add into the mix Cold War fears of “suspect” individuals and a need for straight-laced conformity, and you’ve got an environment ripe for Fahrenheit-style fears. Critics recognised the relevance of Bradbury’s work then, and still do today.