We woke up today to the news that legendary American author Ray Bradbury passed away at the age of 91. This is a sad day, but also a day for remembering the contributions a great artist and writer can make in society. Ray Bradbury made some lasting contributions, not least of which the incendiary novel Fahrenheit 451. That novel is so ingrained in our popular culture that you practically cannot have a conversation about censorship without alluding to that book.
And he was a lifelong — and vocal — supporter of libraries and librarians! His personal interviews are featured in the documentary The Hollywood Librarian: A Look at Librarians Through Film (read my review here), in which he talks about writing his first works in libraries (a little ironic, eh, to be writing Fahrenheit 451 in a library?!). And in a 2009 New York Times interview, as he was fighting to raise money for a local public library system, he stated simply:
Libraries raised me.
He also placed a librarian, the quintessential male Liberated Librarian, as the hero in my personal favorite adaptation of his works, Something Wicked This Way Comes (1983). It is an underrated film, in my opinion, but one that never fails to inspire. I highlighted the librarian character, Charles Holloway (sensitively played by Jason Robards), in my Hall of Fame, and the film earned a spot in my Best Librarian Films by Decade list. Something Wicked This Way Comes was even part of the initial list of films for my undergrad thesis, at the beginning of this journey of analyzing reel librarians. And the film and librarian character are highlighted in posts about reel librarians as moral and intellectual leaders of the community and exploring the male character type of Liberated Librarians. Thank you, Ray Bradbury, for giving us this great tale and a great librarian hero.
One of my favorite scenes from the movie comes with a (mostly civil) confrontation between Charles Holloway and Mr. Dark (Jonathan Pryce). In his quiet way, Charles defies Mr. Dark by saying:
Sometimes a man can learn more from other men’s dreams than he can from his own. Come visit me, sir, if you wish to improve your education.
Mr. Bradbury, thank you for inviting us into your literary dreams. I have learned a lot.
- George, Lynell. “Author Ray Bradbury Dies at 91.” Los Angeles Times, 6 June 2012.
- Something Wicked This Way Comes. Dir. Jack Clayton. Perf. Jason Robards, Jonathan Pryce, Diane Ladd, Vidal Peterson, Pam Grier. Walt Disney, 1983.
- Steinhauer, Jennifer. “A Literary Legend Fights for a Local Library.” The New York Times, 19 June 2009.