Wednesday, August 17, 2011

451 in the UK

When Fahrenheit 451 was first published in the UK, it didn't exactly make a big splash with the critics. The Guardian newspaper carried a single paragraph review, part of a "books of the day" column, although it was written by a significant literary critic.

Hugh I'Anson Fausset is little known today, but was evidently an important reviewer, as suggested by the list of his critical works in his Wikipedia entry.

Here is what he had to say about Fahrenheit 451 on 23 March 1954:
Mr Ray Bradbury is reputed to write science-fiction poetically, but in Fahrenheit 451 [...] his acutely picturesque manner ill suits the dreary subject matter - future America where the firemen's duty is to burn such books as remain or be destroyed as enemies of the State by a radar-controlled Mechanical Hound. The masses have given up reading, except comics and technology. They have four-wall television and high-speed games. If without a clue to the brains in control, we are visually thrilled when the Hound is up after Montag, a rebellious fireman, and there is real gusto in the descriptions of burning.
I'm not sure what Fausset is referring to with "high-speed games". Maybe he saw premonitions of Wii and PS3 in Bradbury's writing...

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