Thursday, June 30, 2011

Ray Bradbury's Fahrenheit 451

The title of this classic Cold War and censorship novel comes from the temperature at which paper supposedly combusts. In the near future, firemen set fires, not fight them. Houses are fireproof and books are illegal because of the ideas they could give people. Firemen enforce the law, burning books and making sure their owners are arrested. Guy Montag is a fireman who is disturbed when he witnesses a woman setting herself on fire rather than give up her books. He catches a glance of some words and risks stashing a few books to see what is they contain.

Ray Bradbury wrote this forward-looking work as a commentary on the problems of contemporary American society. He also forecasted a number of things, including the growing dependence on media (in the form of wall-size screens) and the use of earphone radios (think Bluetooth). A National Medal for Arts recipient and Science Fiction Poetry Association Grandmaster, Bradbury has written numerous works, most notably the The Martian Chronicles stories and the novels Something Wicked This Way Comes, The Illustrated Man, and Dandelion Wine. His works have been adapted into all types of media, including movies, television programs, and comics. This interview with Bradbury explores the process of making this adaptation. Both Hamilton and Bradbury contributed to this interview about the book.

Tim Hamilton adapted this novel into graphic novel form. He has worked as an illustrator for a couple decades now, drawing for publications ranging from MAD to The New York Times. He drew the long-running comic book series The Trouble with Girls and also adapted Treasure Island into a graphic novel. This interview touches on Hamilton's work, career, and art on this book.

This well-done adaptation appeals to many people. Chris Singer called it a "terrific adaptation."A student at Teen Ink wrote that it would be better to read the novel before the adaptation, but NatalieSap offered that "it can be a gateway to reading Bradbury's original, or even stand alone." The School Library Journal concluded that it was "an excellent companion to an excellent novel."

A teacher's guide, videos, and other information are available here from the book's publisher Hill and Wang. A preview is available at

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