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Essay/Term paper: Ray bradbury

Essay, term paper, research paper:  Biography

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Ray Bradbury

Ray Bradbury

Ray Bradbury was a dreamer. Bradbury had a skill at putting his dreams onto paper, and

into books. He dreams dreams of magic and transformation, good and evil, small-town America

and the canals of Mars. His dreams are not only popular, but durable. His work consists of short

stories, which are not hard to publish, and keep in the public eye. His stories have stayed in print

for nearly three decades.

Ray Bradbury was born on August 22, 1920, in a small town of Waukegan, Illinois. His

parents were Leonard Spaulding and Esther Moberg Bradbury. His mother, Esther Moberg loved

films, she gave her son the middle name Douglas because of Douglas Fairbanks, and she passed

her love of films to her son. "My mother took me to see everything....." Bradbury explains, "I'm a

child of motion pictures." Prophetically, the first film he saw, at the age of three, was the horror

classic "The Hunchback of Notre Dame", staring Lon Chanley. His teenage Aunt Neva gave the

boy his appreciation of fantasy, by reading him the Oz books, when he was six. When Bradbury

was a child he was encouraged to read the classic, Norse, Roman, and Greek Myths. When he was

old enough to choose his own reading materials, he chose books by Edger Rice Burroughs and the

comic book heroes Flash Gordon, Buck Rogers, and Prince Valiant. When Bradbury was in

Waukegan he developed his interest in acting and Drama. After seeing a magician, known as

Blackstone, he became fascinated with magic also.

In 1932, his family moved to Tucson Arizona. With his talents he learned in Waukegan

(amateur magician) he got a job at the local radio station. "I was on the radio every Saturday night

reading comic strips to the kiddies and being paid in free tickets, to the local cinema, where I saw

'The Mummy', 'The Murders in the Wax Museum', 'Dracula', .....and 'King Kong'." His family only

stayed in Tuscan for a year, but Bradbury feels: "It was one of the greatest years of my life

because I was acting and singing in operettas and writing, my first short stories."

In 1934 his family moved to Los Angeles, where Bradbury has remained. He attended Los

Angeles High School, where he wrote and took part in many dramatic productions. His literary

tastes were broadened to include Thomas Wolfe and Ernest Hemingway when he took a creative

writing course. In 1938 Los Angeles High School yearbook, the following prediction appeared

beneath his picture:

Likes to write stories
Admired as a thespian
Headed for literary distinction

After graduation Bradbury sold newspapers until he saved up enough money to buy a

typewriter and rent a small office. In the early 1940's his stories appeared regularly in Weird

Tales. "I sold a story every month there for three or four years when I was (in my early twenties).

Made the magnificent sum of twenty dollars for each story." Bradbury sold his first stories in 1945

to "slick" magazines - Collier's, Charm, and Mademoiselle.

Shortly after his marriage to Marguerite Susan McClure in 1947, Bradbury's first book,

Dark Carnival, was published by Arkham House. About this time, the idea for an important book

about Mars, a collection of loosely connected stories, came to Bradbury.

The subjects that engage Bradbury's pen are many: magic, horror, and monsters; rockets,

robots, time and space travel; growing up in the Midwest town in the 1920's, and growing old in

an abandoned Earth colony on another planet. Despite their themes, his stories contain a sense of

wonder, often a sense of joy, and a lyrical and rhythimic touch that sets his work apart.

Using an analytical approach to such stories is to do a kind of violence to them, but

between the dream and the finished story is a considerable amount of craftsmanship. The illustration

of that craftsmanship, along with some clarification of the writer's themes, hopefully will enrich the

reader's understanding and appreciation of one of the major artists in his feild.

The approach here is topical: the various collections of Bradbury's stories have been "taken

apart", and the stories regrouped and compared with another in terms of elements and common


Generally speaking, Bradbury's handling of a given theme in am early story is essentially

the same. That is, his themes do not display a growth in emotional depth or logical complexity as

time goes on. Instead, Bradbury treats his themes in what might be called a Baroque manner -

changing the orientation, emotional tone, or relative prominence of the theme from story to story.

In a way, this is like the variations on a theme in music. For example, "The Next Line" and "The

Life Work of Jaun Diaz" both center around the mummies in the cemetery at Guanajauto in

Mexico. The former is a horror story as well as a psychological study of a marital relationship. The

latter describes a very different marital relationship and concludes on a note of whimsical irony.

Both stories may be compared in terms of the mummies or in larger context of Bradbury's visit to

Mexico in 1945. But little understanding is added from a critical standpoint in knowing that "The

Next in Line" was published in 1947 and "The Life Work of Jaun Diaz" in 1963. For the purpose

of this study, then, the order in which the stories were written or published has been largely

ignored. Readers wishing to pursue a chronological study of a given topic or topics will want

to consult the helpful chronolgy complied by William F. Nolan for the 1973 Doubleday & Co.,

Inc. education of The Martian Chronicles.

As a partical matter, consideration here is limited primarily to fiction available to the

general reader. Though this qualification includes the vast bulk of Bradbury's output, certain

stories not included in the major collections, as well as Bradbury's nonfiction, are either not

mentioned at all or briefly mentioned where relevant. Bradbury's poetry, screenplays, plays, and

children's books are touched upon elsewhere.

I have referred above to Bradbury being one of the major artists in his feild. It should be

understood at the outset that there is a considerable amount of confusion as to just what this feild

is. The demands of the commercial marketplace and the need to confine a popular writer and his

within an easy recognizable image have resulted in Bradbury's being jammed uncomfortably into

a box labeled "Science Fiction". No definition of science fiction exists that pleases everybody, and

even if it did, to apply it casually to the work of Ray Brabdbury would be inaccurate and unfair.

H.G. Wells, whom many regard as a classical science fiction writer, had this to say about his own

novels "They are all fantasies; they do not aim to project a serious possibility; they aim indeed only

at the amount of conviction as one gets in a good gripping dream. They have to hold the reader to

the end by art and illusion and not by proof and argument, and the moment he closes the cover

the reflects he wakes up to their impossibility." Wells here is contrasting his stories with those of

Jules Verne, wich he calls, 'anticipatory inventions." Viewed this way, virtually all of Bradbury's

stories are fantasies, with Wells's concept of the "good gripping dream" coming closest to

describing their effect. Even today Ray Bradbury's place in literature is not clear.


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