"It was a pleasure to burn," says main character Guy Montag to begin "Fahrenheit 451," the futuristic dystopian novel by Ray Bradbury. One of the most notable opening lines in literary history, this quote sets up the story of a world in which all books in society are burned at a temperature of 451 degrees.Continue Reading
Published in 1953, "Fahrenheit 451" is also famous for the line, "Our civilization is flinging itself to pieces. Stand back from the centrifuge." With eerily accurate predictions of a future in which televisions cover entire walls of homes, the book remains relevant to today's pop culture. Frustrated by the ever-present television walls, Montag complains, "Nobody listens anymore. I can't talk to the walls because they're yelling at me, I can't talk to my wife; she listens to the walls. I just want someone to hear what I have to say."
Throughout the novel, Montag becomes enlightened by books and feels increasingly uneasy about book burning, eventually revolting altogether. As he revolts, knowing he may be killed for his dissenting views, he famously says, "That's the good part of dying; when you've nothing to lose, you run any risk you want.” As the novel closes, Montag is satisfied with his courage and utters the notable line, "I'll hold on to the world tight some day. I've got one finger on it now; that's a beginning."Learn more about Classics