Saturday, 14 May 2016

Fahrenheit 451

by Ray Bradbury

It was thanks to this book which I read in 1970s as 451 градус по Фаренгейту that I remembered, for the first time, any data in this absurd scale — only to learn, already after Bradbury’s death, that paper does not auto-ignite at this particular temperature. Gary Dexter goes as far as suggesting to replace the famous epigraph

‘Fahrenheit 451: The temperature at which book paper catches fire, and burns’
with
‘Fahrenheit 843: The approximate temperature at which rayon fiber untreated with N-methyl-dimethyl-phosphonopropionamide catches fire, and burns’.
Try telling that to Bradbury fans.

Doesn’t matter. When read in Russian, the book was as scary as it was fascinating. Reading it in English, I found it much less so. Could it be because we live in times when people do not read books anymore anyway? Not just the new generation, but especially the new generation, if my students are anything to go by — my, sometimes I sound awfully old. Bradbury’s future has arrived, and it doesn’t look good, but we are getting used to it.

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