Matt Potter 11:59 a.m., June 19
Who wrote the novel and when?
Another hint: "Once books appealed to ...people. The world was roomy. But then the world got full of eyes and elbows and mouths...Films and radios, magazines, books leveled down to a sort of paste pudding norm."
The novel, which makes eerie predictions about today's technology, was published in 1953.
Author: the late Ray Bradbury (he died last June).
Book: Fahrenheit 451.
Bradbury envisions a future where books have become evil. They aren't about living people. Books disagree with each other. They provoke thought. Thought makes people unhappy. People should be happy. Ergo, burn all books.
Bradbury said he didn't write the novel as an indictment of totalitarian states or censorship (though both are in there). He wrote about "the effects of television and mass media on the reading of literature" in the next "four or five decades."
So 2003 or hereabouts.
He envisions giant, interactive TV sets and one as small as a postage stamp. Those who watch become the center of attention.
Shortly after the book came out, Bradbury took a stroll in Beverly Hills. A man and wife passed him walking their dog. She was doing something so strange, he "stood there stunned.
"She 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 to 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."
At the end of Fahrenheit 451, to preserve "the knowledge we think we will need" in a future devoid of books, societal outcasts commit parts of or entire texts to memory (I love it when a guy declares, I am Plato's Republic").
If that's the case, if books and print are headed for the Bradburyan furnace, I got dibs on Ecclesiastes!!!