June 06, 2007

You've got it all wrong

Fahrenheit 451, that is. And you've always gotten it wrong. So sayeth the author, Ray Bradbury. Excerpt:

Bradbury still has a lot to say, especially about how people do not understand his most literary work, Fahrenheit 451, published in 1953. It is widely taught in junior high and high schools and is for many students the first time they learn the names Aristotle, Dickens and Tolstoy.

Now, Bradbury has decided to make news about the writing of his iconographic work and what he really meant. Fahrenheit 451 is not, he says firmly, a story about government censorship. Nor was it a response to Senator Joseph McCarthy, whose investigations had already instilled fear and stifled the creativity of thousands.

This, despite the fact that reviews, critiques and essays over the decades say that is precisely what it is all about. Even Bradbury’s authorized biographer, Sam Weller, in The Bradbury Chronicles, refers to Fahrenheit 451 as a book about censorship.

Bradbury, a man living in the creative and industrial center of reality TV and one-hour dramas, says it is, in fact, a story about how television destroys interest in reading literature.

“Television gives you the dates of Napoleon, but not who he was,” Bradbury says, summarizing TV’s content with a single word that he spits out as an epithet: “factoids.” He says this while sitting in a room dominated by a gigantic flat-panel television broadcasting the Fox News Channel, muted, factoids crawling across the bottom of the screen.

Eh, what does he know anyway?

Posted by Physics Geek at June 6, 2007 10:25 AM | TrackBack StumbleUpon Toolbar Stumble It!

it's about censorship alright, just not government imposed censorship. Instead, it's about the individual censorship of whatever challenges them, drowning it in booze, pills, and TV. When Montag's house burns, why does Mildred cry?

Posted by: fred at June 6, 2007 10:19 PM

Reminds me of the scenes with Kurt Vonnegut in the movie, Back to School.

Posted by: wheels at June 7, 2007 07:31 AM

I'm tempted to re-read F-451, but all I remember from my first time through is that it was one of Bradbury's sludgier works. The man rarely seems to find any flow in his prose, and there are very few of his stories that I've enjoyed reading.

Don't get me wrong, he has plenty of intriguing story ideas, it's just that I find his execution dull and verbose about 90% of the time.

Posted by: Harvey at June 9, 2007 12:21 AM