Thursday, June 07, 2012

Ray Bradbury, friend of libraries and reading

From HERE:

Bradbury’s greatest skill was his ability to inspire readers to reflect deeply on our society and values, even when his books dealt with Mars or the future or some other tried-and-true genre concept.

With book burnings and repression of ideas still part of our daily news, Bradbury’s most famous novel has much to teach us even today. You may remember “Fahrenheit 451″ — or the celebrated film François Truffaut made from it — for the disturbing scenes of “firemen” whose job is no longer to put out blazes but to start them, consigning all literary works to the flames. But Bradbury’s story has other lessons to teach us. What you may have forgotten about “Fahrenheit 451″ is that communities only started burning books after they had lost interest in reading and the exchange of ideas. Their immersion in entertainment compromised their engagement as citizens. That lesson may be even more timely in modern America, where flames are hardly necessary to undermine our political and civic institutions.

Bradbury lived up to his ideals in other ways. He was a longtime champion of book culture and reading. “Libraries raised me,” Mr. Bradbury once commented. “I don’t believe in colleges and universities. I believe in libraries.” He often spoke at libraries and campaigned to keep them open and well funded.

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