Notes and Quotes – Fahrenheit 451 (1953), Ray Bradbury

 

– Notes and Quotes –

 

Ray Bradbury (1920-1912)

Fahrenheit 451 (1953)

 

“When people ask your age, he said, always say seventeen and insane.” (4)

 

“It’s fine work. Monday burn Millay, Wednesday Whitman, Friday Faulkner, burn ‘em to ashes, then burn the ashes. That’s our official slogan.” (4)

 

“If you showed a driver a green blur, Oh yes! he’d say, that’s grass! A pink blur? That’s a rose-garden! White blurs are houses. Brown blurs are cows. My uncle drove slowly on a highway once. He drove forty miles an hour and they jailed him for two days.” (5)

 

“Have you seen the two-hundred-foot-long billboards in the country beyond town? Did you know that once billboards were only twenty feet long? But cars started rushing by so quickly they had to stretch the advertising out so it would last.” (5)

 

“We get these cases nine or ten a night. Got so many, starting a few years ago, we had the special machines built. With the optical lens, of course, that was new; the rest is ancient. You don’t need an M.D., case like this; all you need is two handymen, clean up the problem in half an hour. Look” — he started for the door — “we gotta go. Just had another call on the old ear-thimble. Ten blocks from here. Someone else just jumped off the cap of a pillbox.” (10)

 

“What do you do, go around trying everything once?” he asked.

“Sometimes twice.” She looked at something in her hand. (15)

 

“I’ve got to go to see my psychiatrist now. They make me go. I made up things to say. I don’t know what he thinks of me. He says I’m a regular onion! I keep him busy peeling away the layers.” (16)

 

“I’m anti-social, they say. I don’t mix. It’s so strange. I’m very social indeed. It all depends on what you mean by social, doesn’t it? Social to me means talking about things like this.” She rattled some chestnuts that had fallen off the tree in the front yard. “Or talking about how strange the world is. Being with people is nice. But I don’t think it’s social to get a bunch of people together and then not let them talk, do you? An hour of TV class, an hour of basketball or baseball or running, another hour of transcription history or painting pictures, and more sports, but do you know, we never ask questions, or at least most don’t; they just run the answers at you, bing, bing, bing, and us sitting there for four more hours of film-teacher. That’s not social to me at all.” (22)

“I guess I’m everything they say I am, all right. I haven’t any friends. That’s supposed to prove I’m abnormal. But everyone I know is either shouting or dancing around like wild or beating up one another.” (22)

 

“The brass pole shivered.” (26)

 

“‘Play the man, Master Ridley; we shall this day light such a candle, by God’s grace, in England, as I trust shall never be put out.’” (26)

 

“She said, ‘Master Ridley.’ She said some crazy thing when we came in the door. ‘Play the man,’ she said, ‘Master Ridley.’ Something, something, something.”

“‘We shall this day light such a candle, by God’s grace, in England, as I trust shall never be put out,”‘ said Beatty. Stoneman glanced over at the Captain, as did Montag, startled.

Beatty rubbed his chin. “A man named Latimer said that to a man named Nicholas Ridley, as they were being burnt alive at Oxford, for heresy, on October 16, 1555.” (30)

 

“Do you see? Out of the nursery into the college and back to the nursery; there’s your intellectual pattern for the past five centuries or more.” (43)

 

“Authors, full of evil thoughts, lock up your typewriters.” (45)

 

“At least once in his career, every fireman gets an itch. What do the books say, he wonders. Oh, to scratch that itch, eh? Well, Montag, take my word for it, I’ve had to read a few in my time, to know what I was about, and the books say nothing! Nothing you can teach or believe. They’re about non-existent people, figments of imagination, if they’re fiction. And if they’re non-fiction, it’s worse, one professor calling another an idiot, one philosopher screaming down another’s gullet. All of them running about, putting out the stars and extinguishing the sun. You come away lost.” (48)

 

Gulliver’s Travels, Jonathan Swift :

“‘It is computed that eleven thousand persons have at several times suffered death rather than submit to break eggs at the smaller end.’

“Mildred sat across the hall from him. ‘What does it mean? It doesn’t mean anything! The Captain was right!’” (53)

 

“If you see that dog outside,” said Mildred, “give him a kick for me.” (58)

 

“Consider the lilies of the field.” (59)

 

Quality and Leisure

 

“The more pores, the more truthfully recorded details of life per square inch you can get on a sheet of paper, the more ‘literary’ you are. That’s my definition, anyway. Telling detail. Fresh detail. The good writers touch life often. The mediocre ones run a quick hand over her. The bad ones rape her and leave her for the flies.” (63)

 

“We are living in a time when flowers are trying to live on flowers, instead of growing on good rain and black loam. Even fireworks, for all their prettiness, come from the chemistry of the earth. Yet somehow we think we can grow, feeding on flowers and fireworks, without completing the cycle back to reality.” (63)

 

“‘The televisor is ‘real.’ It is immediate, it has dimension. It tells you what to think and blasts it in. It must be, right. It seems so right. It rushes you on so quickly to its own conclusions your mind hasn’t time to protest, ‘What nonsense!’” (63)

 

“‘There has to be someone ready when it blows up.”

‘What? Men quoting Milton? Saying, I remember Sophocles? Reminding the survivors that man has his good side, too? They will only gather up their stones to hurl at each other. Montag, go home. Go to bed. Why waste your final hours racing about your cage denying you’re a squirrel?’” (66)

 

“‘I paid for all this — how? Playing the stock-market, of course, the last refuge in the world for the dangerous intellectual out of a job.’” (69)

 

Dover Beach (77)

 

“If you hide your ignorance, no one will hit you and you’ll never learn.” (80)

 

“Well,” said Beatty, “the crisis is past and all is well, the sheep returns to the fold. We’re all sheep who have strayed at times. Truth is truth, to the end of reckoning, we’ve cried. They are never alone that are accompanied with noble thoughts, we’ve shouted to ourselves. ‘Sweet food of sweetly uttered knowledge,’ Sir Philip Sidney said. But on the other hand: ‘Words are like leaves and where they most abound, Much fruit of sense beneath is rarely found.’ Alexander Pope. What do you think of that?”

“I don’t know.”

“Careful,” whispered Faber, living in another world, far away.

“Or this? ‘A little learning is a dangerous thing. Drink deep, or taste not the Pierian spring; There shallow draughts intoxicate the brain, and drinking largely sobers us again.’ Pope.” (81)

 

And you, quoting Dr. Johnson, said ‘Knowledge is more than equivalent to force!’ And I said, ‘Well, Dr. Johnson also said, dear boy, that “He is no wise man that will quit a certainty for an uncertainty.’“ Stick with the fireman, Montag. All else is dreary chaos!”(82)

 

“Beatty chuckled. “And you said, quoting, ‘Truth will come to light, murder will not be hid long!’ And I cried in good humour, ‘Oh God, he speaks only of his horse!’ And ‘The Devil can cite Scripture for his purpose.’ And you yelled, ‘This age thinks better of a gilded fool, than of a threadbare saint in wisdom’s school!’ And I whispered gently, ‘The dignity of truth is lost with much protesting.’ And you screamed, ‘Carcasses bleed at the sight of the murderer!’ And I said, patting your hand, ‘What, do I give you trench mouth?’ And you shrieked, ‘Knowledge is power!’ and ‘A dwarf on a giant’s shoulders of the furthest of the two!’ and I summed my side up with rare serenity in, ‘The folly of mistaking a metaphor for a proof, a torrent of verbiage for a spring of capital truths, and oneself as an oracle, is inborn in us, Mr. Valery once said.’” (82)

 

“What traitors books can be! You think they’re backing you up, and they turn on you. Others can use them, too, and there you are, lost in the middle of the moor, in a great welter of nouns and verbs and adjectives.” (82)

 

“What is fire? It’s a mystery. Scientists give us gobbledegook about friction and molecules. But they don’t really know. Its real beauty is that it destroys responsibility and consequences. A problem gets too burdensome, then into the furnace with it. Now, Montag, you’re a burden. And fire will lift you off my shoulders, clean, quick, sure; nothing to rot later. Antibiotic, aesthetic, practical.” (86)

 

“When you’re quite finished,” said Beatty behind him. “You’re under arrest.” (87)

 

“Better to keep it in the old heads, where no one can see it or suspect it. We are all bits and pieces of history and literature and international law, Byron, Tom Paine, Machiavelli, or Christ, it’s here.” (114)