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Transcript of Fahrenheit 451
Ray Bradbury's Life
•Best known as a science fiction writer whose works explore the effects of science and technology on humans and our society.
"You have not converted a man because you have silenced him." ~ John Morley
Science fiction novel about a futuristic society in which books and reading are banned.
Published in 1951.
Never provides a single, clear explanation of why books are banned in the future. Instead it suggests that many different factors could combine to create this result.
Presence of fast cars, loud music, video games, and the Internet (stimulating activities that are passive).
Factors that lead to a general lack of interest in reading
Feelings of inferiority / Objections of special interest groups and minorities
Censorship and Effects of Mass Media
Conformity vs. Individuality
Disintegration of Society/Reformation of Society
Knowledge vs. Ignorance
Importance of Literature
Critique of American Society (Satire)
Warns against mistaking "mindless happiness and slavish social conformity for progress."
Bradbury feels censorship enslaves those who are unable to think for themselves.
To examine in order to suppress or delete
anything considered objectionable
- A set of standards of right and wrong
- Some have the inability to accept the
standards of others
Reasons for Censorship
- Those who have religious beliefs that
do not allow for the beliefs of others.
- Fear of corruption
- Fear of destruction of culture
- Fear of offending the sensitive
- Fear of discussing controversial issues
Conservation of Power:
- Limited distribution of knowledge
- Hiding of information
Dystopian societies are undesirable or even horrifying.
They are usually fictional and futuristic.
- Regarded as warnings
- Are about both today and tomorrow
- Comments on our own society
- All relative: One man's dystopia is another man's utopia.
1930's: Nazis Burn Books Across Germany
1940's: House Un-American Activities Committee investigates the movie industry.
1950's: Cold War imperils writers' civil liberties in the U.S. and their lives in the Soviet Union.
Literature and Censorship
"The paper burns, but the words fly away." These words about book burning from the martyred rabbi Akiba Ben Joseph appear on one wall of Ray Bradbury's beloved Los Angeles Public Library—itself the survivor of a horrific 1986 fire. They also underscore a truth too often ignored: Censorship almost never works. Banning or burning a book may take it out of circulation temporarily, but it usually makes people even more curious to read the work in question. Under Joseph Stalin and his successors, Russia banned questionable books and killed or imprisoned their authors, yet underground editions passed from hand to hand and ultimately helped topple the Soviet system. Adolf Hitler exhorted his followers to burn books by Jewish or "subversive" authors, but the best of those books have outlasted Nazi Germany by a good sixty years. In an added irony, accounts of Nazi book burnings helped inspire Fahrenheit 451, one of the most haunting denunciations of censorship in all literature.
How ironic, too, that Bradbury's own indictment of censorship has itself been repeatedly censored. Fourteen years after Fahrenheit 451' s initial release, some educators succeeded in persuading its publisher to release a special edition. This edition modified more than seventy-five passages to eliminate mild curse words, and to "clean up" two incidents in the book. (A minor character, for example, was changed from "drunk" to "sick.") When Bradbury learned of the changes, he demanded that the publishers withdraw the censored version, and they complied. Since 1980, only Bradbury's original text has been available. As a result, some schools have banned the book from course lists. For all these attempts to sanitize or banish it completely, Bradbury has remained diligent in his defense of his masterpiece, writing in a coda that appears in some editions of the book:
"Do not insult me with the beheadings, finger-choppings or the lung-deflations you plan for my works. I need my head to shake or nod, my hand to wave or make into a fist, my lungs to shout or whisper with. I will not go gently onto a shelf, degutted, to become a non-book."
Summarize the point Bradbury is trying to make.
Other Frequently Censored Books
The Harry Potter Controversy
The Harry Potter controversy has gone on, in one form or another, for years. On one side of the Harry Potter controversy are those who say that J.K. Rowling's Harry Potter books are wonderful fantasy novels with powerful messages for kids and the ability to make even reluctant readers eager readers; on the other side of the Harry Potter controversy are those that say that the Harry Potter books are evil books designed to promoted an interest in the occult since the hero, Harry Potter, is a wizard
Do you consider reading to be an important activity? Why or why not?
How many hours a week do you read? What is your motivation?
If you had one book to save, what would it be? Why?
Freedom of speech and the consequences of losing it
The importance of remembering and understanding history
What might some of those "factors" be?
Censorship Scenarios (Motivating Factors) - Activity 2
I would love/hate this society because....
An illustrated edition of "Little Red Riding Hood" was banned in two California school districts in 1989. Following the Little Red-Cap story from Grimm's Fairy Tales, the book shows the heroine taking food and wine to her grandmother. The school districts cited concerns about the use of alcohol in the story.
The Lord of the Rings, by J.R.R. Tolkien
Burned in Alamagordo, NM (2001) outside Christ Community Church along with other Tolkien novels as satanic.
Discuss our First Amendment Right: freedom of speech. What does the right guarantee? How does this right guarantee the survival of a democratic nation? What are our responsibilities with regard to this right?
Do you feel as if watching TV, playing videogames, using Facebook, and/or listening to your IPODs is are activities that are negatively impacting you as an individual? Us as a society? Explain your response.
Guided notes (Activity #1)