Why does Ray Bradbury refer to Schopenhaur in his book Farenheit 451? What does Bradbury imply about Schopenhauer's philosophy?

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

The dystopian science fiction novel Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury tells of a future society in which firemen go about burning books. The fireman Montag becomes disillusioned with his job and rebels against the destruction of knowledge. At the end of the book, he meets a secret society of people dedicated to the preservation of significant works of literature. Because books are forbidden and dangerous to possess, these people memorize books that they love and then destroy them. After this, out of respect, they call themselves by the names of the authors whose works they have committed to memory.

Bradbury mentions Schopenhauer at the end of the book as one of the authors whose works have been preserved because he obviously considers Schopenhauer's writings important enough to be saved. Arthur Schopenhauer was a German philosopher whose writings had a profound influence on many important thinkers and writers, including Leo Tolstoy, Albert Einstein, Carl Jung, Thomas Mann, and presumably, of course, Ray Bradbury himself. As a science fiction and fantasy writer, Bradbury may have been drawn to the philosopher's writings because of Schopenhauer's interest in parapsychology and magic.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Towards the end of the book, Bradbury has one of the "book covers" be Schopenhauer.  He is among such people as Mark Twain and Jonathan Swift.

What this implies about Schopenhauer is that he is "dangerous" like these other men.  The other men here were pretty cynical and were also pretty rebellious.  Neither of these is a trait that the society in this book would like.

Specifically, Arthur Schopenhauer was a pretty pessimistic thinker.  He concluded that people could never have what they want and that they should try to get rid of their desires.  This also goes against what this society thought.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team

We’ll help your grades soar

Start your 48-hour free trial and unlock all the summaries, Q&A, and analyses you need to get better grades now.

  • 30,000+ book summaries
  • 20% study tools discount
  • Ad-free content
  • PDF downloads
  • 300,000+ answers
  • 5-star customer support
Start your 48-Hour Free Trial