“If they give you lined paper, write across”
Love for a man, hatred for everything hostile to him – to what prevents a person from being worthy of this proud title – this is the driving force behind the work of R. Bradbury. This inseparable “love-hate” helped him create, perhaps the most powerful of the endless set of warning novels written in our century – “451 ° Fahrenheit,” a book that brought the author worldwide fame.
The profession of the protagonist of the novel by Guy Montag is a fireman, but a fireman, armed not with a water hose, but with a flamethrower with kerosene. He does not extinguish, but kindles fires. Indeed, this has happened more than once: that which is intended to save people, help them, make their lives happier, suddenly turns against them, begins to crush, oppress, threaten, and finally kill.
Something similar is happening now with Western culture, which is moving – sometimes elusively – into the counterculture, into the mass culture, into kitsch, into something that has nothing to do with genuine culture, although it often continues to dress up in its old clothes. But after all, firefighters from the novel are sure that the meaning of their profession is always to rush and burn seditious volumes along with houses, or even owners, upon a fire alarm.
The society depicted by Bradbury not only kills books and people, so to speak, physically. First of all, it kills souls … How many of them, such as Mildred, are creatures with a humanoid shell, from which, however, all human things are shaken out. When the remnants of the soul, glimmers of conscience wake up, Mildred, not even clearly knowing what she is doing, tries to commit suicide, and her friends, the same unfortunate victims of the mass culture, cry when they hear a few poetic lines. But this is an impulse for a moment – their process of spiritual decay has gone too far. They are essentially dead.
But is there anything human left in the gang of richer teenagers in cars, who, having seen a lonely passerby, immediately decide: “We will knock him down!” They are having fun. So, as they were taught by “educators” burning books …
But Bradbury would not be a progressive writer if he confined himself to warnings and frightening scenes. In all his writings there are always heroes who oppose. Remarkable anti-conformist words of Juan Ramos Jimenez: “If you get lined paper, write across”, which became the epigraph to the novel, you can put the epigraph to the whole work of the American science fiction writer.
Not only in the heart of the protagonist of the novel “451 ° Fahrenheit”, but also in the reader, the episode with a woman who herself set fire to herself with the library will respond with acute pain. No wonder the novel cites the words of a sixteenth-century heretic alive burnt by the Inquisition: “We will light a candle in England today that, I believe, will never be extinguished.”
Across and writes young Clarissa, who scuffed Montag’s soul, a girl who is interested not in how something is done, but for what and why. For now, the hereditary fire fighter Montag hides half-burnt volumes as a bosom, like a believer – perishing shrines. And when Montag escapes from the city, he is met by tramps around bonfires – intellectuals, writers, teachers. Each of them memorized some great creation of the past.
They believe that the time will come when all the treasures of human thought, which evil forces so carefully tried to incinerate, will again be reborn, preserved by this living library. A book burning society cannot, does not have a moral right to exist, and the author condemns him to capital punishment. Atomic bombers roar with a roar, and an all-consuming flame, even more brutal than the one that destroyed books, licks the gloomy city from the face of the Earth. Fiery death executes Montague of fireman Beatty, the cynical ideologist of the society of burned books. To justify his view of the future, the writer talks about potential threats that await us.
In the novel “451º Fahrenheit,” I found a lot of gloomy, soul-stunning pictures, but it was surprising: I closed it without heavy sediment, on the contrary, it has something bright, even sunny, resembling the smile of a red, curly, freckled boy. This happened because the author’s optimism breaks through the lines, his faith in the ultimate triumph of reason, that all miracles and wonders created by man will be passed on from generation to generation, and so on without end. In his novel, Bradbury convinces us that humanity will be able to cope with any difficulties, that it will not only survive, but can become happy. And so I want to believe in it!