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Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451
“It was a pleasure to burn. It was a special pleasure to see things eaten, to see things blackened and changed,” begins Fahrenheit 451 (1). This opening of Bradbury’s novel immediately evokes the consequences of the careless use of new technology and modern-man’s refusal to recognize these consequences (de Koster 44). The book Fahrenheit 451 is one of only two novels that Ray Bradbury has written, the other being Something Wicked This Way Comes. (Many believe that Dandelion Wine and The Martian Chronicles are novels when in fact they are just collections of different stories put together by connected themes.) The idea for the story comes from a story called the “The Fireman” published in Galaxy. The premise for the book is rather farfetched-that firemen in some future state no longer fight fires but set them, having become extensions of a political program aimed at stamping out all literature (Johnson 85). It was written when Senator Joseph McCarthy was trying to destroy the rebellious elements in the U.S. “Using broad attacks, innuendo, and guilt by association, they had made Hollywood one of their major targets, convinced it was a hotbed of communists sympathizers and saboteurs”(de Koster 26). This was known as the McCarthy era. Bradbury admits that the book Fahrenheit 451 was an attack on McCarthyism (personal attacks on individuals on a wide scale, usually based on false accusations) even though this wasn’t very clear. “In Fahrenheit 451 Bradbury mourns no only the government’s determination to tell people what to think and to destroy those who show any signs of independent thought, but the people’s willingness to stop thinking-and reading-for themselves”(de Koster 12).
Ray Bradbury is an American author who is best known for his science fiction novels. His most effective writing style is when he combines his wonderful imagination and poetic style (Barron 213). Ray Bradbury was born in Waukegan, Illinois on August 22, 1920, a son of Leonard Spaulding Bradbury and Esther Marie Moberg Bradbury. His father was of English descent that had come to America in 1630. Ray, later on, would take on the family business, working with words, which had begun with his dad’s father and grandfather. Leonard, however, would run away from home at sixteen. When he returned to Waukegan he decided to work as a telephone lineman. His mother was brought into this earth in Stockholm, Sweden and moved to Massachusetts at the age of two. At the age of eight, her family moved to Waukegan, the place where she met and married Leonard. Twin brothers, Leonard and Samuel, were born in 1916. In 1918, Samuel died leaving Leonard as Ray’s only sibling. Ray’s greatest childhood memory was not of his first bike ride but of his first encounters of literature. The ending of the book, Fahrenheit 451, comes from this time in his life where Bradbury would read and memorize books just like Montag and the book people (de Koster 16). In 1934 the Bradbury family moved to Los Angeles, California.
Bradbury graduated from a Los Angeles High School in 1938. In his yearbook, this prediction was made about him “Likes to write stories, Admired as a thespian, Headed for literary distinction”(Johnson 2). His formal education ended there, but he furthered it by himself -- at night in the library and by day at his typewriter. He sold newspapers on Los Angeles street corners from 1938 to 1942. Bradbury\'s first story publication was "Hollerbochen\'s Dilemma," printed in 1938 in Imagination, an amateur fan magazine. Bradbury\'s first paid publication was "Pendulum" in 1941 to Super Science Stories. In 1942 Bradbury wrote "The Lake," the story in which he discovered his distinctive writing style (Johnston and Jepsen 1). By 1943 he began writing full-time, contributing numerous short stories to periodicals. In 1945 his short story "The Big Black and White Game" was selected for Best American Short Stories. In 1947 Bradbury married Marguerite (Maggie) McClure, and that same year he gathered much of his material and published his first book, Dark Carnival, a collection of twenty-seven scary stories (de Koster 23). His reputation as a leading writer of science fiction was established with the publication of The Martian Chronicles in 1950. As much a work of social criticism as of science fiction, The
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Fiction, Speculative fiction, Literature, Waukegan, Illinois, Fantasy novels, Ray Bradbury, Mars in fiction, Fahrenheit 451, The Martian Chronicles, Dandelion Wine, Something Wicked This Way Comes, A Pleasure to Burn
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