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Transcript of Ray Bradbury
born 1920 in Waukegan, Illinois
sold his first story 1941
most famous novel:
'Fahrenheit 451' (1953)
--> critique of increasing
superficiality of society
famous for science-fiction short stories
--> 'The Martian Chronicles'
--> humans conquering and colonizing Mars
Bradbury prefers the term 'fantasy'
to 'science-fiction' for his works
--> referring to things that will never happen
Elements of a short story
Sara Teasdale: There Will Come Soft Rains
There will come soft rains and the smell of the ground,
And swallows circling with their shimmering sound;
And frogs in the pools singing at night,
and wild plum trees in tremulous white;
Robins will wear their feathery fire,
Whistling their whims on a low fence‐wire;
And no one will know of the war, not one
Will care at last when its done.
Not one would mind; neither bird nor tree,
If mankind perished utterly;
And Spring herself, when she woke at dawn
would scarcely know that we were gone.
'August 2026: There Will Come Soft Rains'
Point of View
What is a short story?
500 - 15.000 words
one important event
mood or atmosphere
ruins of the city Allendale, Caifornia
morning of August 4 to morning of August 5 2026
... in 'August 2026: There will come Soft Rains' :
daily routine of the house
house of the future
everything is done by electronic devices
only house in a ruined city
description of silhouettes of people burned into one side of the house
no human life after a nuclear catastrophe
dog enters the house and dies
poem 'There Will Come Soft Rains' by Sarah Teasdale
house is set on fire by a falling tree
electronic devices try to stop the fire
they fail, the fire continues to destroy the house
the house crashes down
only one wall left standing
voice repeating 'Today is August 5 2026'
what he/ she says, thinks, feels and dreams
what he/she does or does not do
how others react to him/her and what others say about him/her
personifications make them appear human
cf. l. 145: "The house tried to save itself."
l. 166: "But the fire was clever."
Man vs. Man (physical)
Man vs. Circumstances (classical)
Man vs. Society (social)
Man vs. Himself/Herself
Stream of Conciousness
controlling idea/ central insight of a piece of fiction
author's thoughts about a topic or perception of human nature
figures of speech may be used to emphasize the theme
Effect created when a writer contrasts
expectations and reality
A comparison between two things which
are basically quite unlike one another
without using the words ‘as’ or ‘like’.
They try to create a picture in one's mind.
A comparison between two things
that are not really like each other.
They make use of the words 'like' or 'as'.
A technique of representing animals or
objects as if they were human beings or
possessed human qualities.
A repetition of words or phrases at the
beginning of successive sentences or
sub-clauses for emphasis
Use of a lot of similar words or phrases
within a few lines to emphasize a
description or impression.
an event contradicts
character states the
opposite of what is meant
reader knows more than the character
structured, lonely, calm
first: futuristic & homely
later: gloomy & unsettling
first use of an atomic bomb during world war II
--> after the war:
confrontation of United States & Soviet Union
--> both possessing technology for atomic weapons
--> arms race
--> Cold War (1947 - 1989)
--> constant threat of nuclear destruction
consequences of scientific developement
risk of nuclear war
--> technology threatening human life
in the poem: nature outliving humanity
in the short story: not clear
BUT: wild animals
Chances and Risks of Technology
Thank you for listening! :)
also the little gadgets seem to have feelings:
use of adjectives like angry (cf. ll. 64,65)
house seems to be communicative and having
its own mind (cf. ll.115-121: selecting a poem to read)
a house which is sticking to
its routine even though
there are no human beings left
humans trying to improve everything
but destroying themselves in the end
description of nature
--> calm atmosphere
nature without mankind
--> gloomy, scary atmosphere
meaning: humanity becoming exinct doesn't make any difference to the nature
--> maybe even a better world
... in Bradbury's short story:
randomly chosen poem fitting to the situation
favorite poem of the former house owner
too late to hear the warning
Will nature survive mankind?
Always consider positive and negative potential of technological developments!
e.g. genetic engineering
knowing about genetic causes of illnesses can save lifes
- natural plants may become
- caste system of improved
and unimproved humans
... now it's your turn!