Ray Bradbury seems always to have known what he wanted to do and how to get it done. Of the initiatives he has taken in his life, which do you think have contributed most fruitfully to his writing?
Identify the resemblances between the Martians and American Indians in The Martian Chronicles and explain what they contribute to the total effect of the narrative.
Montag is a grown man at the beginning of Fahrenheit 451, but what evidence do you see that he matures in the course of the novel?
Some books probably intended for young readers turn out to be valuable reading for adults. Is Dandelion Wine such a book? Explain your response.
Is Bradbury more convincing in his depiction of the dark side of life or in his hopefulness?
Critics are inclined to discount the importance of popular writers in popular modes such as those Bradbury practices. What aspects of Bradbury’s work entitle him to the status of serious writer?
Other Literary Forms
Although Ray Bradbury described himself as essentially a short-story writer, his contributions to a wide variety of other genres have been substantial. Indeed, he has intentionally sought to compose successfully in virtually every literary form. His best-known novels are Fahrenheit 451 (1953), Dandelion Wine (1957), and Something Wicked This Way Comes (1962), the last being his favorite of all of his works. Among his screenplays, the most successful have been Moby Dick (1956), written in collaboration with filmmaker John Huston, and Icarus Montgolfier Wright (1961) with George C. Johnson, which was nominated for an Academy Award. Bradbury had his stage plays produced in Los Angeles and New York City, and several of them have been published, representative samples of which are The Anthem Sprinters and Other Antics (1963) and The Pedestrian (1966). He also wrote many plays for radio and television. Some of the most important of the several volumes of poetry that he published were collected in The Complete Poems of Ray Bradbury (1982). He also wrote books for children and adolescents, including Ahmed and the Oblivion Machines: A Fable (1998); compiled anthologies of fantasy and science-fiction stories, such as The Circus of Dr. Lao and Other Improbable Stories (1956); and published nonfiction works dealing with his interests in creativity and the future, such as Yestermorrow: Obvious Answers to Impossible Futures (1991).
Despite Bradbury’s once being named the United States’ best-known science-fiction writer in a poll, his actual literary accomplishments are based on an oeuvre whose vast variety and deeply humanistic themes transcend science fiction as it is commonly understood. His many stories, from gothic horror to social criticism, from playful fantasies to nostalgic accounts of midwestern American life, have been anthologized in several hundred collections, in English as well as many foreign languages, and several of the stories that he published early in his career now occupy a distinguished niche in twentieth century American literature.
Some of his early tales were recognized with O. Henry Prizes in 1947 and 1948, and in 1949 he was voted Best Author by the National Fantasy Fan Federation. Bradbury’s “Sun and Shadow” won the Benjamin Franklin Magazine Award as the best story of 1953-1954, and in 1954 he received a National Institute of Arts and Letters Award in Literature. His novel Fahrenheit 451 won a gold medal from the Commonwealth Club of California, and his book Switch on the Night (1955) was honored with a Boy’s Club of America Junior Book Award in 1956. He received the Mrs. Ann Radcliffe Award of the Count Dracula Society in 1965 and 1971, the Writers’ Guild of America West Valentine Davies Award in 1974, and the World Fantasy Award for Life Achievement in 1977. Whittier College gave him an honorary doctor of literature degree in 1979. PEN, an international writers’ organization of poets, playwrights, editors, essayists, and novelists, gave Bradbury its Body of Work Award in 1985. In 1988 Bradbury won the Nebula Award, and in...
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