Burning Ray Bradbury: The Column I Most Regret Never Having Written

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by Jerry Bowyer

The column I most regret never having written is about the book Fahrenheit 451. Columns need a ‘hook’, something in the news which gives the column relevance, some current event which a writer can hang the column on. But Fahrenheit 451 is not exactly timely, nor is the movie based on it: even Bradbury himself passed away over a year ago. So why do I write about him now? Because the suppression of religious themes in a new film based on a new classic, namely Ender’s Game, reminded me of what was done to the work of Ray Bradbury a generation ago. Originally I‘d written the material in this column as part of a separate column about the Ender’s Game controversy, but eventually I decided the this material could stand on its own.

Ray Bradbury’s book was about a dystopic future in which ideas were suppressed by a new class of firemen who instead of putting out fires, set fires to burn books. It’s a very good book, and a fairly bad movie. And one of the worst things about the movie is that it commits the act which the book decries, namely the suppression of a dangerous book. The book which the movie suppresses is not a book, but The Book, Ho Biblios, the Bible. At the end of the novel, Montag, a book-burner turned dissident, is introduced to a colony of people who are living receptacles of the great literary works. They spend their lives committing entire books to memory and then teach them to the next generation so that the words are never lost.

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