Ray Douglas Bradbury

Ray Douglas Bradbury was born in 1920 in Waukegan, Illinois to Esther Moberg Bradbury, a Swedish immigrant, and Leonard Spaulding Bradbury, a power and telephone lineman. He was the younger brother of twin boys, one of whom died in 1918.

His paternal grandfather and great-grandfather were newspaper publishers.

He is related to the American Shakespeare scholar Douglas Spaulding. Ray is also directly descended from Mary Bradbury who was tried, convicted and sentenced to hang as a witch in Salem, Massachusetts in 1692. She was married to Captain Thomas Bradbury of Salisbury, Massachusetts.

Bradbury was a reader and writer throughout his youth who was greatly influenced by the writings of Edgar Allan Poe. Bradbury was especially impressed with Poe’s ability to captivate readers into his works. In his youth, he spent much time in the Carnegie library in Waukegan, Illinois, reading such authors as H.G. Wells, Jules Verne, and his favorite author, Edgar Rice Burroughs who wrote novels such as Tarzan and Warlord of Mars. He loved Burroughs‘ „Warlord of Mars“ so much that at the age of twelve he wrote his own sequel.[11] Bradbury was pushed to writing by his aunt, who read him short stories when he was a child.[12] He used this library as a setting for much of his novel Something Wicked This Way Comes, and depicted Waukegan as „Green Town“ in some of his other semi-autobiographical novels—Dandelion WineFarewell Summer—as well as in many of his short stories.[13]

He attributes his lifelong habit of writing every day to two incidents. The first, which occurred when he was three years old when his mother took him to Lon Chaney’s performance of the Hunchback of Notre Dame,[14] and the second, which occurred in 1932 when a carnival entertainer, Mr. Electrico,[15] touched him on the nose with an electrified sword, made his hair stand on end, and shouted, „Live forever!“ It was from then that Bradbury wanted to live forever and decided on his career as an author in order to do what he was told: live forever. It was at that age that Bradbury first started to do magic. Magic was his first great love. If he had not discovered writing, he would have become a magician.[16]

The Bradbury family lived in Tucson, Arizona, in 1926–27 and 1932–33 as his father pursued employment, each time returning to Waukegan, but eventually settled in Los Angeles in 1934, when Ray was thirteen.

Bradbury graduated from Los Angeles High School, where he took poetry and short story writing courses that furthered his interest in writing,[17] but he did not attend college. Instead, he sold newspapers at the corner of South Norton Avenue and Olympic Boulevard. In regard to his education, Bradbury said:

Libraries raised me. I don’t believe in colleges and universities. I believe in libraries because most students don’t have any money. When I graduated from high school, it was during the Depression and we had no money. I couldn’t go to college, so I went to the library three days a week for 10 years.[18]

It was in UCLA’s Powell Library, in a study room with typewriters for rent, in which Bradbury wrote his classic story of a book-burning future,Fahrenheit 451.[19]

[edit]Career

Ray Bradbury had the freedom of starting his writing career when he was rejected admission into the military (bad eyesight) during World War II. Having been influenced by science fiction heroes like Flash Gordon and Buck Rogers, Bradbury began to publish science fiction stories infanzines in 1938. Bradbury was invited by Forrest J Ackerman to attend the Los Angeles Science Fiction Society, which at the time met at Clifton’s Cafeteria in downtown Los Angeles. This was where he met the writers Robert A. HeinleinEmil PetajaFredric BrownHenry KuttnerLeigh Brackett, and Jack Williamson.[citation needed] His first published story was „Hollerbochen’s Dilemma“, which appeared in thefanzine Imagination! in January, 1938. Launching his own fanzine in 1939, titled Futuria Fantasia, he wrote most of its four issues, each limited to under 100 copies. Between 1941 and 1947, he was a contributor to Rob Wagner’s film magazine, Script.

Bradbury’s first paid piece, „Pendulum“, written with Henry Hasse, was published in the pulp magazine Super Science Stories in November 1941, for which he earned $15.[20] He became a full-time writer by the end of 1942. His first collection of short stories, Dark Carnival, was published in 1947 by Arkham House, a small press in Sauk City, Wis., owned by writer August Derleth.

A chance encounter in a Los Angeles bookstore with the British expatriate writer Christopher Isherwood gave Bradbury the opportunity to putThe Martian Chronicles into the hands of a respected critic. Isherwood’s glowing review[21] followed.

Fahenheit451rb.jpg

Although he is often described as a science fiction writer, Bradbury does not box himself into a particular narrative categorization:

First of all, I don’t write science fiction. I’ve only done one science fiction book and that’s Fahrenheit 451, based on reality. Science fiction is a depiction of the real. Fantasy is a depiction of the unreal. So Martian Chronicles is not science fiction, it’s fantasy. It couldn’t happen, you see? That’s the reason it’s going to be around a long time—because it’s a Greek myth, and myths have staying power.[22]

On another occasion, Bradbury observed that the novel touches on the alienation of people by media:

In writing the short novel Fahrenheit 451 I thought I was describing a world that might evolve in four or five decades. But only a few weeks ago, in Beverly Hills one night, a husband and wife passed me, walking their dog. I stood staring after them, absolutely stunned. The woman held in one hand a small cigarette-package-sized radio, its antenna quivering. From this sprang tiny copper wires which ended in a dainty cone plugged into her right ear. There she was, oblivious to man and dog, listening to far winds and whispers and soap-opera cries, sleep-walking, helped up and down curbs by a husband who might just as well not have been there. This was not fiction.[23]

Besides his fiction work, Bradbury has written many short essays on the arts and culture, attracting the attention of critics in this field. Bradbury also hosted „The Ray Bradbury Theater“ which was based on his short stories. Bradbury was a consultant for the American Pavilion at the 1964 New York World’s Fair and the original exhibit housed in Epcot’s Spaceship Earth geosphere at Walt Disney World.[24][25][26] In the 1980s, he moved his writings to detective fiction.[27]

[edit]Personal life

Ray Bradbury married Marguerite McClure (1922–2003) in 1947, and they had four daughters. Bradbury has never obtained a driver’s license.[28]

Bradbury was a close friend of Charles Addams, and Addams illustrated the first of Bradbury’s stories about the Elliotts, a family that would resemble Addams‘ own Addams Family placed in rural Illinois. Bradbury’s first story about them was „Homecoming,“ published in the 1946 Halloween issue of Mademoiselle, with Addams illustrations. He and Addams planned a larger collaborative work that would tell the family’s complete history, but it never materialized, and according to a 2001 interview, they went their separate ways.[29] In October 2001, Bradbury published all the Family stories he had written in one book with a connecting narrative, From the Dust Returned, featuring a wraparound Addams cover of the original ‚Homecoming‘ illustration.[30]

Bradbury made regular appearances at science fiction conventions until 2009 when he retired from the circuit on the grounds of old age and lack of energy.[citation needed]

Despite the numerous (and often prescient) technological predictions of his novels, he has expressed scepticism about the value of the Internet to society, stating that it has reduced people’s ability to communicate and hold conversations with each other.[citation needed] He has also exhibited scepticism with regard to modern technology by resisting the conversion of his work into e-books and stating that

„We have too many cellphones. We’ve got too many internets. We have got to get rid of those machines. We have too many machines now.“[31]

[edit]Critical reception

Critical opinion of Bradbury’s work is sharply divided. In his review of The Martian Chronicles,[21] Christopher Isherwood wrote:

… the sheer lift and power of a truly original imagination exhilarates… His is a very great and unusual talent.

At the other extreme, science fiction author and critic Damon Knight wrote:[32]

Although [Bradbury] has a large following among science fiction readers, there is at least an equally large contingent of people who cannot stomach his work at all… His imagination is mediocre; he borrows nearly all his backgrounds and props, and distorts them badly; wherever he is required to invent anything—a planet, a Martian, a machine—the image is flat and unconvincing.

[edit]Bibliography

[edit]Adaptations to other media

From 1951 to 1954, 27 of Bradbury’s stories were adapted by Al Feldstein for EC Comics, and 16 of these were collected in the paperbacks,The Autumn People (1965) and Tomorrow Midnight (1966), both published by Ballantine Books with cover illustrations by Frank Frazetta.

Also in the early 1950s, adaptations of Bradbury’s stories were televised on a variety of anthology shows, including Tales of TomorrowLights OutOut ThereSuspenseCBS Television WorkshopJane Wyman’s Fireside TheatreStar TonightWindows and Alfred Hitchcock Presents. „The Merry-Go-Round,“ a half-hour film adaptation of Bradbury’s „The Black Ferris,“ praised by Variety, was shown on Starlight Summer Theater in 1954 and NBC’s Sneak Preview in 1956. During that same period, several stories were adapted for radio drama, notably on the science fiction anthologies Dimension X and its successor X Minus One.

Producer William Alland first brought Bradbury to movie theaters in 1953 with It Came from Outer Space, a Harry Essex screenplay developed from Bradbury’s screen treatment „Atomic Monster“. Three weeks later came the release of Eugène Lourié’s The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms (1953), which featured one scene based on Bradbury’s „The Fog Horn„, about a sea monster mistaking the sound of a fog horn for the mating cry of a female. Bradbury’s close friend Ray Harryhausen produced the stop-motion animation of the creature. Bradbury would later return the favor by writing a short story, „Tyrannosaurus Rex“, about a stop-motion animator who strongly resembled Harryhausen. Over the next 50 years, more than 35 features, shorts, and TV movies were based on Bradbury’s stories or screenplays.

Bradbury was hired in 1953 by director John Huston to work on the screenplay for the 1956 film Moby Dick, which was faithfully based on the novel by Herman Melville and starred Gregory Peck as Captain Ahab, Richard Basehart as Ishmael, and Orson Welles as Father Mapple. A significant result of the film was Bradbury’s book Green Shadows, White Whale, a semi-fictionalized account of the making of the film, including Bradbury’s dealings with Huston and his time in Ireland, where exterior scenes that were set in New Bedford, Massachusetts, were filmed.

Bradbury’s short story I Sing the Body Electric (from the book of the same name) was adapted for the 100th episode of The Twilight Zone. The episode was first aired on May 18, 1962.

Oskar Werner and Julie Christie starred in Fahrenheit 451 (1966), an adaptation of Bradbury’s novel directed by François Truffaut.

In 1966 Bradbury helped Lynn Garrison create AVIAN, a specialist aviation magazine. For the first issue Bradbury wrote a poem – Planes that land on grass.

In 1969, The Illustrated Man was brought to the big screen, starring Rod SteigerClaire Bloom and Robert Drivas. Containing the prologue and three short stories from the book, the film received mediocre reviews.

The Martian Chronicles became a three-part TV miniseries starring Rock Hudson which was first broadcast by NBC in 1980. Bradbury found the miniseries „just boring“.[33]

The 1983 horror film Something Wicked This Way Comes, starring Jason Robards and Jonathan Pryce, is based on the Bradbury novel of thesame name.

In 1984, Michael McDonough of Brigham Young University produced „Bradbury 13,“ a series of 13 audio adaptations of famous Ray Bradbury stories, in conjunction with National Public Radio. The full-cast dramatizations featured adaptations of „The Ravine,“ „Night Call, Collect,“ „The Veldt„, „There Was an Old Woman,“ „Kaleidoscope,“ „Dark They Were, and Golden-Eyed„, „The Screaming Woman,“ „A Sound of Thunder,“ „The Man,“ „The Wind,“ „The Fox and the Forest,“ „Here There Be Tygers“ and „The Happiness Machine“. Voiceover actor Paul Frees provided narration, while Bradbury himself was responsible for the opening voiceover; Greg Hansen and Roger Hoffman scored the episodes. The series won a Peabody Award as well as two Gold Cindy awards and was released on CD on May 1, 2010. The series began airing on BBC Radio 4 Extra on June 12, 2011.

From 1985 to 1992 Bradbury hosted a syndicated anthology television series, The Ray Bradbury Theater, for which he adapted 65 of his stories. Each episode would begin with a shot of Bradbury in his office, gazing over mementoes of his life, which he states (in narrative) are used to spark ideas for stories. During the first two seasons, Bradbury also provided additional voiceover narration specific to the featured story and appeared on screen.

Five episodes of the USSR science fiction TV series This Fantastic World adapted Ray Bradbury’s stories I Sing The Body Electric,Fahrenheit 451A Piece of WoodTo the Chicago Abyss, and Forever and the Earth.[34] A Soviet adaptation of „The Veldt“ was filmed in 1987.[35]

The 1998 film The Wonderful Ice Cream Suit, released by Touchstone Pictures, was written by Ray Bradbury. It was based on his story „The Magic White Suit“ originally published in The Saturday Evening Post in 1957. The story had also previously been adapted as a play, a musical, and a 1958 television version.

In 2002, Bradbury’s own Pandemonium Theatre Company production of Fahrenheit 451 at Burbank’s Falcon Theatre combined live acting with projected digital animation by the Pixel Pups. In 1984, Telarium released a for Commodore 64 based on Fahrenheit 451.[36] Bradbury and director Charles Rome Smith co-founded Pandemonium in 1964, staging the New York production of The World of Ray Bradbury (1964), adaptations of „The Pedestrian„, „The Veldt“, and „To the Chicago Abyss.“

In 2005, the film A Sound of Thunder was released, loosely based upon the short story of the same name. The film The Butterfly Effectrevolves around the same theory as A Sound of Thunder and contains many references to its inspiration.[37] Short film adaptations of A Piece of Wood and The Small Assassin were released in 2005 and 2007 respectively.[38][39]

In 2005, it was reported that Bradbury was upset with filmmaker Michael Moore for using the title Fahrenheit 9/11, which is an allusion to Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451, for his documentary about the George W. Bush administration. Bradbury expressed displeasure with Moore’s use of the title but stated that his resentment was not politically motivated. Bradbury asserts that he does not want any of the money made by the movie, nor does he believe that he deserves it. He pressured Moore to change the name, but to no avail. Moore called Bradbury two weeks before the film’s release to apologize, saying that the film’s marketing had been set in motion a long time ago and it was too late to change the title.[40]

In 2008, the film Ray Bradbury’s Chrysalis was produced by Roger Lay Jr. for Urban Archipelago Films, based upon the short story of the same name. The film won the best feature award at the International Horror and Sci-Fi Film Festival in Phoenix. The film has international distribution by Arsenal Pictures and domestic distribution by Lightning Entertainment.[41]

In 2010, The Martian Chronicles was adapted for radio by Colonial Radio Theatre on the Air.

Bradbury’s works and approach to writing are documented in Terry Sanders‚ film Ray Bradbury: Story of a Writer (1963).

[edit]Honors

Bradbury receiving the National Medal of Arts Award award in 2004 with then-President George W. Bush and his wife Laura Bush.

[edit]Notes

  1. ^ The Rough Guide To Cult Fiction“, Tom Bullough, et al., Penguin Books Ltd, London, 2005, p. 35
  2. ^ King, Stephen (1981). Stephen King’s danse macabre. Macdonald. p. [page needed]ISBN 0354046470. „My first experience of real horror came at the hands of Ray Bradbury.“
  3. ^ „Ray Bradbury – Information, Facts, and Links“. Enotes.com. Retrieved September 30, 2011.
  4. ^ p.141 Bloom, Harold Ray Bradbury 2010 Infobase Publishing
  5. ^ Touponce, William F. „Ray (Douglas) Bradbury.“ American Writers: A Collection of Literary Biographies, Supplement 4. Ed. A Walton Litz and Molly Weigel. New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1996. Literature Resources from Gale. Web. Nov. 16, 2010.
  6. ^ Certificate of Birth, Ray Douglas Bradbury, August 22, 1920, Lake County Clerk’s Record #4750. Although he was named after Rae Williams, a cousin on his father’s side, Ray Bradbury’s birth certificate spells his first name as „Ray.“
  7. ^ Mogen, David. „RAY BRADBURY (1920- ).“ Columbia Companion to the Twentieth-Century American Short Story (2000): 162-166. EBSCO. Web. Nov. 30, 2010.
  8. ^ The Spalding Family Memorial, 1899
  9. ^ Litz, A. Walton. American Writers Supplement IV. New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1996. Print.
  10. ^ Contemporary Authors Online. Ray Bradbury. Detroit: Gale, 2009. Web.
  11. ^ Heller, Terry. Magill’s Survey of American Literature. Revised Edition. Pasadena: Salem Press, 2006. Print.
  12. ^ Paradowski, Robert J. „Ray Bradbury.“ Critical Survey of Short Fiction, Second Revised Edition“ 2001:1-5. EBSCO. Web. Nov. 8, 2010
  13. ^ Sites from these works which still exist in Waukegan include his boyhood home, his grandparents‘ home next door (and their connecting lawns where he and his grandfather gathered dandelions to make wine) and, less than a block away, the famous ravine which Bradbury used as a metaphor throughout his career.
  14. ^ Paradowski, Robert J. “Ray Bradbury.” Critical Survey of Short Fiction, Second Revised Edition (2001): EBSCO. Web. Nov. 10, 2010.
  15. ^ „In His Words“. RayBradbury.com. Retrieved December 9, 2009.
  16. ^ Terry Sanders‘ film Ray Bradbury: Story of a Writer (1963)
  17. ^ Litz, A. Walton, and Molly Weigel, eds. American Writers (Supp. 4, Pt. 1). New York: Macmillian Library Reference. 1996. Print.
  18. ^ Steinhauer, Jennifer (June 19, 2009). „A Literary Legend Fights for a Local Library“. The New York Times. Retrieved December 9, 2009.
  19. ^ A Bruin Birthday Tribute To Ray Bradbury Tweet (August 22, 2010). „First Spark: Ray Bradbury Turns 90; The Universe and UCLA Celebrate“. Spotlight.ucla.edu. Retrieved September 30, 2011.
  20. ^ „Biographies: Bradbury, Raymond Douglas“. s9.com. Retrieved December 9, 2009.
  21. a b Isherwood, Christopher (October 1950), „A Review of The Martian Chronicles„, Tomorrow 10: 56–58
  22. ^ wil gerken, nathan hendler, doug floyd, john banks. „Books: Grandfather Time (Weekly Alibi . 09-27-99)“. Weeklywire.com. Retrieved February 14, 2010.
  23. ^ Quoted by Kingsley Amis in New Maps of Hell: A Survey of Science Fiction (1960).
  24. ^ Ray Bradbury. „In 1982 he created the interior metaphors for the Spaceship Earth display at Epcot Center, Disney World.“http://www.raybradbury.com/bio.html
  25. ^ Ray Bradbury. „The images at Spaceship Earth in DisneyWorld’s EPCOT Center in Orlando? Well, they are all Bradbury’s ideas.“http://www.raybradbury.com/articles_town_talk.html
  26. ^ Ray Bradbury. „He also serves as a consultant, having collaborated, for example, in the design of a pavilion in the Epcot Center at Walt Disney World.“ Referring to Spaceship Earth …http://www.raybradbury.com/articles_book_mag.html
  27. ^ Litz, A. Walton., and Molly V. Weigel. American Writers: a Collection of Literary Biographies. New York: Scribner, 1996. Print
  28. ^ Riddle, Warren (June 25, 2009). „Sci-Fi Author Ray Bradbury Trashes the Web“. Switched. Retrieved December 9, 2009.
  29. ^ Interview with Ray Bradbury in IndieBound, fall 2001.
  30. ^ Bradbury, Ray, From The Dust Returned: A Novel. William Morrow, 2001.
  31. ^ „Fahrenheit 451 becomes e-book despite author’s feelings“. bbc.com. November 30, 2011. Retrieved December 1, 2011.
  32. ^ Knight, Damon (1967). In Search of Wonder. Chicago: Advent.
  33. ^ Weller, Sam (2005). The Bradbury Chronicles: The Life of Ray Bradbury. New York: HarperCollins. pp. 301–302. ISBN 0-06-054581-X.
  34. ^ „State Fund of Television and Radio Programs“ (in Russian).
  35. ^ Veld at the Internet Movie Database
  36. ^ „Fahrenheit 451 (1984 game)“.
  37. ^ A Sound of Thunder at the Internet Movie Database
  38. ^ A Piece of Wood at the Internet Movie Database
  39. ^ The Small Assassin at the Internet Movie Database
  40. ^ Weller, Sam (2005). The Bradbury Chronicles: The Life of Ray Bradbury. New York: HarperCollins. pp. 330–331. ISBN 0-06-054581-X.
  41. ^ Chrysalis at the Internet Movie Database
  42. ^ 2007 Special Awards from the Pulitzer Prize website
  43. ^ Icarus Montgolfier Wright at the Internet Movie Database
  44. ^ Distinguished Contribution to American Letters Award with his acceptance speech.
  45. ^ Wilson, Stephen M. (2008). „2008 SFPA Grandmaster“The Science Fiction Poetry Association. SFPA. Retrieved August 3, 2008.
  46. ^ „2011 Hugo Awards“. The Hugo Awards. November 17, 2010. Retrieved September 30, 2011.

[edit]References

  • Albright, Donn (1990). Bradbury Bits & Pieces: The Ray Bradbury Bibliography, 1974-88. Starmont House. ISBN 1-55742-151-X.
  • Eller, Jonathan R.; Touponce, William F. (2004). Ray Bradbury: The Life of Fiction. Kent State University Press. ISBN 0-87338-779-1.
  • Nolan, William F. (1975). The Ray Bradbury Companion: A Life and Career History, Photolog, and Comprehensive Checklist of Writings. Gale Research. ISBN 0-8103-0930-0.
  • Paradowski, Robert J.; Rhynes, Martha E. (2001). Ray Bradbury. Salem Press.
  • Reid, Robin Anne (2000). Ray Bradbury: A Critical Companion. Greenwood Press. ISBN 0-313-30901-9.
  • Tuck, Donald H. (1974). The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction and Fantasy. Chicago: Advent. pp. 61–63. ISBN 0-911682-20-1.
  • Weist, Jerry (2002). Bradbury, an Illustrated Life: A Journey to Far Metaphor. William Morrow and Company. ISBN 0-06-001182-3.
  • Weller, Sam (2005). The Bradbury Chronicles: The Life of Ray Bradbury. HarperCollins. ISBN 0-06-054581-X.

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