[translation: Petre Solomon, Paladin Publishing, 2013]
(a reader’s guide to fantasy)
by Oliviu Crâznic
translation from Romanian by Alina-Olimpia Miron
click aici pentru versiunea română
Ray Bradbury (1920-2012… another recent, immense loss for culture) is considered one of the greatest American writers of the 20th century. He wrote SF literature, „fantasy” literature, „horror” or „mystery” literature and even gothic literature; literary criticism, history and theory mention The Fog Horn as being an emblematic work within the current established by H. Walpole, revealing, nonetheless, the deep connection between Bradbury and 19th century Gothic writers (perhaps not a random connection, if one takes into account the fact that Ray Bradbury is a descendant of Mary Bradbury who had been sentenced to death for witchcraft and turning into an animal in 1692, in Salem – the sentence, however, was not put into application); Bradbury himself admitted being a disciple of E.A. Poe. (Note: there will always be theoretical disputes, but, personally, I think it is enough to invoke professor J.E. Hogle’s monumental studies – Harvard University, University of Arizona, collaborator of other several prestigious universities, such as Oxford and Cambridge, Fields of Specialization: Literary Theory and Criticism / The Gothic – to counter-attack the idea that the Gothic is a current that’s long been „dead”, studies stating that the Gothic has unabatedly continued on its sinuous road up to now with the help of illustrious names, from E.A. Poe to J.C. Oates.)
In 2013, in Romania one can “find” Ray Bradbury at Paladin Publishing, in the collection coordinated by Michael Haulică, the Science Fiction Masters series and in Petre Solomon’s stunning translation (one of the best translations I’ve ever read – the text has a natural, exquisite flow). The novel chosen to launch the „Ray Bradbury” series is the everlasting Fahrenheit 451, a dystopia at the same level as 1984 (G. Orwell) and Brave New World (A. Huxley). The book focuses on a firefighter from an oppressive future society in which firefighting doesn’t mean putting fires out, but, on the contrary, burning books and the houses where “dissidents” hide these books. The more or less accidental encounter with a girl interested in real life – and not the robotic attendance to the society she lives in – triggers in the hero conflicting feelings which eventually end up placing him on the other side, with all the ensuing risks (the tense moments when the main character exchanges ideas with his captain, but also those when he’s hunted by the “Hound” are simply remarkable).
In addition to the downright “classic” narration style, what’s utterly stunning is the accuracy manifested by Bradbury regarding the anticipation of several – material and spiritual – aspects characteristic of today’s society (to name just a few: the destruction of personality, individuality with the help of chaotic and controlled information – with the role played by the mass-media –, the easiness with which the “minorities’ rights” can turn into „the minorities’ dictatorship”, but also concrete elements related to the day-to-day life, such as the huge flat-screen TVs, inexistent when the book was written, but common now.)
Fahrenheit 451 was adapted into a movie in 1966 by François Truffaut (starring Oskar Werner and Julie Christie). Martin Scorsese appreciated the film, and Ray Bradbury himself declared he was pleased with the result, even if not fully. Yet another reason for the reader willing to buy this volume, which will not disappoint in the least. And perhaps it might not be a bad idea for Paladin Publishing to delight us in the near future with Bradbury’s other masterpiece, A Pleasure to Burn, a collection of short-stories connected, to a certain extent, to the Fahrenheit universe.