04 October 2008

Banned books week - Day 6

I'm choosing to finish out the week with this. The irony factor makes it particularly appropriate. Have you ever read Ray Bradbury's Farenheit 451? Why would someone want to ban it? Because it makes book banners look bad, perhaps?

In a futuristic Earth -- but not so far removed that we don't recognize or relate to it -- all books have been declared illegal. Our hero, Guy Montag, is a fireman. That doesn't mean he fights fires. Quite the opposite. Firemen burn books. Guy thinks nothing of it until the day he and his fellow firemen are called to the home of a woman who has a whole library hidden in her house. She chooses to burn to death among her books rather than to live without them. Guy is so struck by this extremity of emotion -- seeing as there is no passion of any kind in his own life -- that he swipes a book before it can be destroyed, just so he can read it and see what all the fuss is about. That's the beginning of his slide. His marriage, his job, his status as a free man. It's all lost and in its place is an underground network where people have become books.

I love Bradbury. I really do. This is one of his many masterpieces, IMO. The idea of books becoming illegal -- any and all books -- is too horrible for me to want to think about it. But I do, especially when I think about Farenheit 451. This story is a prime example of an all too possible future if we continue to allow people to ban books in any place for any reason. That's why this week is important. That's why it's important to remember during the other 51 weeks of every year that freedom of expression is one of the most important freedoms there is. And that's why it's so important that every book be out there on the shelves for anyone who wants to read it.


Ed Darrell said...

Irony indeed, and in spades. Thanks for calling it out again.

Maia Strong said...

It's a favourite of mine. I couldn't blog this week without it.

Thanks for stopping by!

Jane said...

I love "Fahrenheit 451." I had to read it for a class, but it took me a while to actually appreciate the message in the book.

Maia Strong said...

Hi, Jane. It's a pretty masterful commentary disguised as a novel, isn't it?