National Endowment of the Arts - The Big Read
Fahrenheit 451

Fahrenheit 451

by Ray Bradbury

You don’t have to burn books to destroy a culture. Just get people to stop reading them.


Ray Bradbury selling newspapers on the corner of Olympic and Norton, Los Angeles, c. 1938. (Getty Images)

When did science fiction first cross over from genre writing to the mainstream of American literature? Almost certainly it happened on October 19, 1953, when a young Californian named Ray Bradbury published a novel with the odd title of Fahrenheit 451. In a gripping story at once disturbing and poetic, Bradbury takes the materials of pulp fiction and transforms them into a visionary parable of a society gone awry, in which firemen burn books and the state suppresses learning. Meanwhile, the citizenry sits by in a drug-induced and media-saturated indifference. More relevant than ever a half-century later, Fahrenheit 451 has achieved the rare distinction of being both a literary classic and a perennial bestseller.

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