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Fahrenheit 451 is a dystopian novel authored by Ray Bradbury and first published in 1953. The novel presents a future American society in which the masses are hedonistic, and critical thought through reading is outlawed. The central character, Guy Montag, is employed as a "fireman" (which, in this future, means "bookburner"). The number "451" refers to the temperature at which book paper auto-ignites. Although sources contemporary with the novel's writing gave the temperature as 450 °C (842 °F), Bradbury apparently thought "Fahrenheit" made for a better title. The "firemen" burn them "for the good of humanity". Written in the early years of the Cold War, the novel is a critique of what Bradbury saw as issues in American society of the era. The concept started with Bradbury's short story "Bright Phoenix," written in 1947 but first published in the Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction in 1963. The original short story was reworked into the novella, The Fireman, and published in the February 1951 issue of Galaxy Science Fiction. The novel was also serialized in the March, April, and May 1954 issues of Playboy magazine. Bradbury wrote the entire novel on a pay typewriter in the basement of UCLA's Powell Library. His original intention in writing Fahrenheit 451 was to show his great love for books and libraries. He has often referred to Montag as an allusion to himself. Over the years, the novel has been subject to various interpretations, primarily focusing on the historical role of book burning in suppressing dissenting ideas. Bradbury has stated that the novel is not about censorship; he states that Fahrenheit 451 is a story about how television destroys interest in reading literature, which leads to a perception of knowledge as being composed of "factoids", partial information devoid of context, e.g. , Napoleon's birth date alone, without an indication of who he was. A movie version of the novel was released in 1966. At least two BBC Radio 4 dramatizations have also been aired, both of which follow the book very closely. A new movie version is in pre-production, and is scheduled for release in 2012.
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