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Why should you read “Fahrenheit 451”? - Iseult Gillespie

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Ray Bradbury’s novel imagines a world where books are banned- and possessing, let alone reading them, is forbidden.The protagonist, Montag, is a fireman responsible for destroying what remains. The story raises the question: how can you preserve your mind in a society where free will, self-expression and curiosity are under fire? Iseult Gillespie examines what makes the dystopian novel a classic.

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TED-Ed Animations feature the words and ideas of educators brought to life by professional animators. Are you an educator or animator interested in creating a TED-Ed Animation? Nominate yourself here »

Meet The Creators

  • Educator Iseult Gillespie
  • Director Anton Bogaty
  • Narrator Addison Anderson
  • Animator Anton Bogaty
  • Sound Designer Cem Misirlioglu
  • Content Producer Gerta Xhelo
  • Editorial Producer Alex Rosenthal
  • Associate Producer Bethany Cutmore-Scott
  • Fact-checker Francisco Diez
Additional Resources for you to Explore
Born in Illinois in 1920, Ray Bradbury was one of the most renowned science fiction writers of all time, whose sage advice for the future, vivid imagination and taste for suspense captured his readers. Learn more about his life and his takes on science fiction, writing and the dangers of patronizing the reader here. Often, he used sparks of fear and intrigue in his own life to generate a story - as he recounts in this interview “I was terrified of automobiles for a long time after that but I turned it into a short story called ‘The Crowd’ ... so out of this horror - this really terrible event - you take something that has taught you a certain kind of fear and you pass on to others and say, this is what the car can do.”

The inspiration for Fahrenheit 451 also came from real life, when a police car pulled up to Bradbury and a writer friend and began interrogating them. The book was written at a time when artists and writers were particularly under fire for suspected Communist sympathies during the Cold War. Read this article for a deep dive into the political era that spawned Bradbury’s most popular novel, and this for an intimate glimpse of the early days of the novel - which was written, fittingly, in a library.

While the book is a response to contemporary concerns, Bradbury was deeply aware of the long history of censorship and book burnings. Visit Freedom to Read for a fascinating timeline of book burnings.

Although a love of books and language is at the center of the book, Bradbury was also remarkably accurate about the future of media and technology - the book includes virtual reality, surveillance, mass media and wireless entertainment, as well as a dependence on robotics and screens.

Listen to an excellent adaptation of the novel for radio here.

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About TED-Ed Animations

TED-Ed Animations feature the words and ideas of educators brought to life by professional animators. Are you an educator or animator interested in creating a TED-Ed Animation? Nominate yourself here »

Meet The Creators

  • Educator Iseult Gillespie
  • Director Anton Bogaty
  • Narrator Addison Anderson
  • Animator Anton Bogaty
  • Sound Designer Cem Misirlioglu
  • Content Producer Gerta Xhelo
  • Editorial Producer Alex Rosenthal
  • Associate Producer Bethany Cutmore-Scott
  • Fact-checker Francisco Diez