At the mention of Ray Bradbury’s name, everyone will think of the most fascinating fantasy novels. Ray Bradbury is one of the best science fiction writers, winner of several literary awards, including in the science fiction genre. However, Bradbury did not consider himself a fiction writer.
Ray Douglas Bradbury was born August 22, 1920 in Waukegan (Illinois, USA). The father of the future writer, Leonard Spalding Bradbury (1891-1957) came from a family of Englishmen, among the first settlers in North America. They moved from England in 1630. There is a family legend in his autobiography: Ray’s great-grandmother Mary Bradbury was a “Salem witch,” hanged after a trial in 1692. Ray’s mother was Mary Esther Moberg (1888-1966), a Swede.
Besides Ray, there was another son, Leonard, growing up in the family. The other two (brother Sam and sister Elisabeth) died in infancy. The boy was exposed to the deaths of loved ones early, which left a mark in some of the literary works in the future.
During the “Great Depression,” his small-town father was unable to find work. In 1934, the Bradbury family moved to Los Angeles, settling in the house of the boy’s uncle. They lived hard. After graduating from high school, the young man worked as a newspaper clerk. The family had no money to continue his studies. Ray did not receive a higher education. According to the writer, his college studies were replaced by the library. Three times a week the young man sat for books in the reading room. Then, at the age of 12, the boy had a desire to compose himself. There was no money to buy the book by E. Burroughs, The Great Warrior of Mars, and the young writer came up with the continuation of the story himself. This is Bradbury’s first step as a fiction writer.
The boy decided to become a writer. The final desire was formed after graduation from school. The first step of creativity – the publication in the local newspaper of a poem “In Memory of Will Rogers” in 1936. Ray wrote short stories, imitating the style of Edgar Allan Poe. The young writer’s critic and advisor was Henry Kuttner, the American fiction writer.
At the age of 17, Bradbury became a member of the American community of young writers, the Los Angeles-based League of Science Fiction Writers. Stories began to appear in cheap fiction collections. A literary style inherent in Bradbury’s work was emerging. In 1939, over two years, he published four issues of Futuria Fantasy. By 1942, the writer switched completely to literature. At this time he was writing fifty short stories a year.
Despite the paltry income, Bradbury did not leave creativity. In 1947, the first collection of short stories by the writer, Dark Carnival, was published. The collection included works from the period of 1943-1947. Characters first appeared: Uncle Enar (the prototype was Ray’s Los Angeles uncle) and “Wanderer” Ceci. The collection was tepidly received by the public.
In the summer of 1949, Ray Bradbury arrived in New York City by bus. He stayed at the hostel of the American Young Men’s Christian Association. He offered his stories to twelve publishers, but no one was interested. Fortunately, Don Congdon, Bradbury’s literary agent, got in touch with DoubleDay Publishers. The publisher at the time was preparing a collection of science fiction. Bradbury interested publisher Walter Bradbury (namesake). Walter agreed to publish Bradbury on the condition that the stories be thematically combined into a novel.
Overnight, Ray laid out a general overview of the future novel in the form of an essay and provided it to the publisher-it was a chain of stories from the early Mars stories assembled into a single work. In The Martian Chronicles, Bradbury invisibly drew a parallel between the novel’s characters’ exploration of Mars and the arrival of colonizers in the Wild West. The novel veiled the errors and imperfections of humanity. The book turned the idea of science fiction upside down. Bradbury considered The Martian Chronicles his best work.
World recognition Ray Bradbury achieved with the release of his novel “451 degrees Fahrenheit” in 1953. The novel was based on two stories: “The Fireman” (unpublished) and “The Pedestrian. The debut publication was published in parts in Playboy magazine, which was just beginning to gain popularity.
The book’s epigraph states that 451 degrees Fahrenheit is the ignition temperature of paper. The plot of the novel is about a consumerist, totalitarian society. The writer showed a society that prioritized the acquisition of material possessions. Books that make the reader think are to be burned along with the homes of the owners of the banned literature. The protagonist of the novel, firefighter Guy Montag, who participates in the book burning, believes he is doing the right, necessary thing. Guy meets a 17-year-old girl, Clarissa. Acquaintance turns the young man’s worldview upside down.
The writer spent his whole life criticizing modern society, considering it consumerist. Bradbury believed that the world does not pay enough attention to science, the development of the space industry. People stopped dreaming about the stars, they are only interested in material things. Bradbury appealed to humanity to stop the callous attitude to the future. A striking example – the story “The Smile”, which takes place in the near future. People have degraded, burned all the books. The main entertainment is the public destruction of the surviving objects of art. There is a line of people wanting to spit in the Mona Lisa painting on the square.
Ray Bradbury lived to the age of 91. Life was full of incessant toil. Every morning, already at an advanced age, the writer began at his desk. He believed that creativity prolonged his life. The writer’s bibliography grew until his death. His last novel was published in 2006.