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Is there an allocated time period in Ray Bradbury's novel? I'm not too sure if there is a timeline that led up to the events in the book, so the time in which it is set is unclear to me.

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2 Answers 2

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Within the book itself there is no definitive date but with a little creative analysis we can we can date the book as being set in the year 2053 (or maybe a couple of years afterwards).


Within the text of Farenheit 451, Clarisse states that her uncle was arrested for an unusual crime;

"My uncle was arrested another time. Did I tell you? For being a pedestrian. Oh, we're most peculiar."

That particular story was told in another Bradbury short story called 'The Pedestrian' which contains a reference to being set in the year "A.D. 2053" (coincidentally 101 years after the date of publication).

In an interview with 'American Author' on the occasion of his 80th Birthday, Bradbury clearly states that 'The Pedestrian' is a direct prequel to Farenheit 451.

"When I was walking on Wilshire Boulevard one night, 50 years ago, with a friend, a police car pulled up and the police inquired why we were walking on the sidewalk. And I said well we're putting one foot in front of the other. Well that was the wrong answer, and the policeman was very suspicious of us for walking in an area where there were no pedestrians... He told us to go home and not to walk any more. Then I went home and wrote The Pedestrian, which is the beginning of Fahrenheit 451. All because that policeman stopped me, thank God for that policeman."

Additionally, the novella from which 'Farenheit 451' was adapted (namely 'the Fireman' originally published in Galaxy Magazine in 1951) explictly states that the year is

Thursday morning, October 4th, 2052, A.D.

Given Bradbury's apparent predilection for placing his futuristic books a hundred and one years in the future, the figure of 2053 makes perfect sense.

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Hm. Can't dispute what Bradbury said but in reading The Pedestrian, I find it difficult to see how it formed a substantial basis for 451. The opening of The Fireman on the other hand clearly sounds like a predecessor. You have any additional info on The Pedestrian. –  Stan Mar 9 at 23:15
    
Just a canon quote from the author. You're right that it might be a "spiritual" prequel. His words are somewhat ambiguous. –  Richard Mar 9 at 23:20

The novel originally started out as short story called Bright Phoenix that Bradbury wrote in 1947. He later expanded it to a novella titled The Fireman (published in Galaxy Sci Fi 1951) and finally into the novel Farenheit 451. See article. Interestingly, Bright Phoenix wasn't published until the May 1963 edition of the Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction.

The quotation from Farenheit 451 referenced in Mistah Mix's answer is (according to Note 1 in this Wiki article) ambiguous and open to interpretation. That same note however also states that the novella sets the time in October 2052.

The full text of the novella is available here. The formatting is 'unkind' but the beginning of the novella is explicit regarding the date -

Fire, Fire, Burn Books

The four men sat silently playing blackjack under a green drop-light in the dark morning. >Only a voice whispered from the ceiling: "One thirty-five a.m. Thursday morning, October >4th, 2052, A.D. . . . One 'forty a.m. . . . one fifty . . ."

Mr. Montag sat stiffly among the other firemen in the fire house, heard the voice-clock >mourn out the cold hour and the cold year, and shivered.

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Bright phoenix (raybradbury.ru/library/story/63/2/0) wasn't published until 1963. The opening line is "One day in April 2022 the great library door slammed flat shut. Thunder. Hullo, I thought." –  Richard Mar 9 at 23:06
    
@Richard - Yup, aware of that. Was still working on some edits. I've been unable to find actual text of Bright Phoenix. If you have a link, please share. Important point is both it and The Fireman set the date in the early to mid 21st century. –  Stan Mar 9 at 23:08
    
Mistah Mix deleted his answer it seems, but the ambiguous quote is at the bottom of books.google.com/… -- "Out of the nursery into the college and back to the nursery; there's your intellectual pattern for the past five centuries or more." It doesn't seem clear what "back to the nursery" is a metaphor for, so it's hard to tell if he's talking about the "pattern" since widespread literacy (1500's or so when the printing press took off, basically consistent with a 21st century date for the story) or since they began the policy of burning books. –  Hypnosifl Mar 10 at 6:27
    
@Hypnosifl Quote is also contained in Note 1 of the Wiki article I linked. –  Stan Mar 10 at 10:32

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