A Closer Look – Fahrenheit 451 [The Folio Society] [Spring Collection]

Fahrenheit 451

By Ray Bradbury

Introduced by Michael MoorcockIllustrated by Sam Weber

Product Details• Bound in buckram • Printed and blocked with a design by Sam Weber • Set in Adobe Caslon • Frontispiece and 5 colour illustrations • Book size: 9½” × 5¾” • 176 pages

First published back in 2011, Folio’s must have edition of Ray Bradbury’s 1953 dystopian masterpiece, Fahrenheit 451, now makes a welcome return as part of the 2018 Spring Collection, newly reissued ahead of HBO’s forthcoming film adaptation of the novel, currently scheduled for release on 19 May, 2018, following its premiere at the 2018 Cannes Film Festival.

Developed from of a series of dystopian ideas and concepts Bradbury had previously explored in his earlier short stories and novellas – most notably The Pedestrian, Bright Phoenix and The Fireman – and completed in just nine days after Bradbury’s publisher convinced him to expand the latter into full length novel format, Bradbury’s haunting classic envisages an unspecified future American society where books are outlawed and ‘firemen’ are employed to seek out and burn any they find, as well as the possessions of those who read them.

Published at the height of McCarthyism in 1953 – the same year as that other landmark anti-Communist allegory, Arthur Miller’s The Crucible – Bradbury’s drew further inspiration from the heightened political repression and climate of fear that swept through many American communities at the time, including the strict censoring of literature and knowledge. In the same year, Senator Joseph McCarthy notably dispatched his aides to search U.S. Information Libraries across the globe for materials thought to be subversive or inflammatory; an act highly reminiscent of the Nazi book burning campaigns of the early 1930s.

At the centre of the novel is protagonist, Guy Montag, a fireman who enjoys his job and ignorantly believes the lies he is fed, for the most part lacking the knowledge to distinguishing the true state of affairs. Guy’s world is one where the firemen start the fires and society is devoid of any sort of culture, nature and independent thought. Here people spend their days watching excessive amounts of television (at very high volumes and on wall-sized screens), listen to Seashell Radio (small hearing aid style radios that fit into the ears) and drive beetles (hovering cars) at extreme speeds and with reckless care.

However, when Guy encounters his new neighbour, the 16-year old Clarisse, he finds himself enlightened by her spirit, her love of life, and her free-thinking ideas, and gradually begins to question his own life and happiness.

As a reader we witness Bradbury’s nightmarish dystopia through the eyes of the working man, one who begins loyal to it, gradually grows disillusioned with the censorship and destruction of knowledge, and then longs to be free from it.

lllustration by Sam Weber from The Folio Society edition of Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury © Sam Weber 2011

Fahrenheit 451 is a title that regularly appears on lists of ‘essential’ or ‘greatest’ novels, and for good reason, as it remains a chilling look at a future society slowly destroying itself from within.

Alongside it’s principle themes of censorship and the suppression of individuality, Bradbury delivers a searing look at the dangers of mass media, and the government’s use technology and media to influence and control an increasingly illiterate society, one bewitched by the simplicity of censored television and radio, and void of true culture, imagination and free-thought.

lllustration by Sam Weber from The Folio Society edition of Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury © Sam Weber 2011

Superbly illustrated by Sam Weber, and featuring both Bradbury’s own (most recent) introduction from 2003, and the new Folio exclusive introduction from one of the foremost figures of the science fiction New Wave of the 1960s, Michael Moorcock, this Folio edition is most definitely the one to own.

The Folio Edition is set in Adobe Caslon, with Railroad Gothic display, printed on Abbey Wove paper at L.E.G.O. S.p.A., Vincenza, Italy, and bound by them in gun metal buckram, printed and blocked with a design by Sam Weber.

To paraphrase Bradbury’s iconic opening line, it is a pleasure to own!

The Folio Society edition of Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury, introduced by Michael Moorcock and illustrated by Sam Weber, is available exclusively from www.foliosociety.com.

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