Today the celebrated speculative fiction author, Ray Bradbury, celebrates his 90th birthday.
Bradbury, of course, is the author of the iconic Fahrenheit 451, a dystopian critique of 50s America which remains all too relevant to today’s world where censorship – and worse still self-censorship – threatens freedom of thought like never before. As Ray observes in the preface for his novel…
There is more than one way to burn a book. And the world is full of people running about with lit matches. Every minority, be it Baptist / Unitarian, Irish / Italian / Octogenarian / Zen Buddhist / Zionist / Seventh-day Adventist / Women’s Lib / Republican / Mattachine / FourSquareGospel feels it has the will, the right, the duty to douse the kerosene, light the fuse….Fire-Captain Beatty, in my novel Fahrenheit 451, described how the books were burned first by the minorities, each ripping a page or a paragraph from this book, then that, until the day came when the books were empty and the minds shut and the library closed forever.
… Only six weeks ago, I discovered that, over the years, some cubby-hole editors at Ballantine Books, fearful of contaminating the young, had, bit by bit, censored some 75 separate sections from the novel. Students, reading the novel which, after all, deals with the censorship and book-burning in the future, wrote to tell me of this exquisite irony. Judy-Lynn del Rey, one of the new Ballantine editors, is having the entire book reset and republished this summer with all the damns and hells back in place.
Ray’s not an anarchist, but he’s heading in the right direction; recently, Bradbury told the Los Angeles Times that:
“there is too much government today”
and that America
“is in need of a revolution.”