I’m here, as some of you know, at the BIG READ* orientation to meet other grant winners from around the country and to learn how to adminster the NEA (National Endowment for the Arts) grant the college has been awarded to carry out a community reads celebration of Ray Bradbury’s novel, Fahrenheit 451 (1953), which according to publicity here still sells 50,000 copies a year.
Colleague, Sheila Cohen (Literacy Dept.) and I chose this novel to highlight its themes: repression of free thought through censorship, a people who value books, the loss of culture and history, the constant demand to satisfy immediate visual and censory appetites by a drug induced and media saturated populace, the value of authentic human interaction and the value of the natural world, to name a few.
For Bradbury, our choice to use, misuse or discard books — represented by the novel’s both literal and figurative book burning — relates to all of these themes.
It’s been exciting to hear what various communities are planning for their BIG READ celebrations. But so far we are the only site that has actually been in touch with Mr. Bradbury, now 87, and living in Ca., in hopes of doing a teleconference with him that will be simulcast to other sites.
We will be reading this novel in ENG 619 as I am hoping the YA Lit class will have opportunities to be major figures in the BIG READ calendar of events.
If you know this novel, do share that with me. I would be very interested in hearing some of your suggestions for events that will support our community’s reading of Fahrenheit 451. I welcome your suggestions as well as comments and questions. Tomorrow is another full day of training for the grant which is modest (about $8,000) as befits our small community.
I was able to take a good walk today to the famed Guthrie Theater, a theatre I have always wanted to visit. I would like to see their current production of Jane Eyre, but I’m afraid I have to get back to 541! KES
*This is the link to the complete list of (16) books the NEA is sponsoring for upcoming BIG READ events.