“There is more than one way to burn a book. And the world is full of people running about with lit matches” (Wikiquote, “Ray Bradbury”). Author Ray Bradbury made this observation in 1979 and his thought has only become more true as time has gone on. Bradbury warns of the possibility of this happening in his novel, Fahrenheit 451. The message of Fahrenheit 451 is more important than ever because today’s book editors, movie critics, and plays have intentionally and unintentionally removed Bradbury’s original intent of the novel. This hasn’t only happened to Fahrenheit 451, but many other books have been dumbed down to meet the standards of today’s unsophisticated readers.
When Fahrenheit 451 came out in 1953, Bradbury had created a new world that readers at the time viewed as profound and alarming. Readers felt this way because prior to Bradbury’s novel, they hadn’t read anything that showed what life would be like without books. “The written word supports objectivity, criticism, and analysis: it enlarges and depends awareness and thus supports the civic order of modern republics, as they came to be at the end of the Nineteenth century” (Bertonneau). Before World War II, American citizens were much less influenced by things such as television and radio (McGiveron). Instead, they gathered information from books and newspapers. Fahrenheit 451 was able to be so influential because it made citizens realize how important books truly in the development of society. “Words provoke imagination and foster independence from stock images” (Bertonneau).
As time has progressed, the general public has moved from its traditionalistic views of the early 1900’s and become more narrow-minded. “It is easy to see why the book was warmly received when it was published in 1953. The prosperity of post-war America created a mass culture of vast complacency which valued conformity and blandness” (Brians). Those who still held on to more conventional ways praised the book for its recognition of the importance of books. Sadly, the situation has changed and most modern readers only seek writings that are easily understood and require little interpretation. “Reader’s Digest condensed books, which boiled down bestsellers for impatient readers, and which Bradbury portrays as a transitional stage to the annihilation of books altogether” (Brians). To the dismay of Bradbury himself, even Fahrenheit 451 was tainted by to fit the likings of today’s unsophisticated and opinionated readers. “... the editors had been dumbing down the text and that schoolbook anthologists had been bowdlerizing the prose, precisely under the principle that the tale should not offend anyone” (Bertonneau).
In 1966, the movie adaptation for Fahrenheit 451 was directed by François Truffaut and was well received by those who had also enjoyed the novel. Despite Truffaut having a rather low budget for the film, at times he was able to create scenes that some viewers found as provocative as the events...