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The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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The BattalionMay 4, 2024

Fahrenheit 451 smolders across generations

 
 

With a message that has burned into the minds of its readers over the last 60 years, Ray Bradbury’s 1953 novel “Fahrenheit 451” will take Rudder Theatre in a stage adaptation of the iconic work.
Robert Boenig, A&M English professor and associate department head, said the novel was originally written as a commentary on former Sen. Joseph McCarthy’s anti-communism work and the suppression of free speech.
Alfred Bendixen, English professor, said the play is certainly not the first adaptation of the novel and that Bradbury was very open to dramatic re-creations of his work. Bradbury wrote a stage version of the novel and read it for an audiobook version, Bendixen said.
Bendixen said the novel itself reflected Bradbury’s concern with what he saw as a societal decrease in the value placed on reading, and by extension the failure of the American education system.
“‘Fahrenheit 451’ is a powerful attack on censorship and on the suppression of ideas during the McCarthy era,” Bendixen said. “It also reflects Bradbury’s larger concern with the way reading is devalued by a culture increasingly seduced by the cheap and easy entertainment provided by radio, TV and movies.”
Boenig said the book’s censorship message is relevant today.
“Those who wish to impose their own ideas by suppressing those of others still pose a danger today,” Boenig said. “The danger might have been more immediate in Nazi Germany, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t be on guard today.”
Boenig compared Bradbury’s novel to “The Crucible,” a play written in 1953 by one of Bradbury’s contemporaries, Arthur Miller. Boenig said “The Crucible,” which chronicles the real witch hunts of Salem, Mass., draws a parallel to the “witch hunts” conducted under McCarthy.
Bradbury’s novel has been subjected to censorship itself, having been banned in some schools and libraries, which senior English major Heather Luna said indicates censors are missing the point of Bradbury’s novel.
“We shouldn’t censor anyone’s words or opinions,” Luna said. “If we’re offended, then we’re fools for taking someone else’s words so seriously.”
As part of MSC OPAS’s Intimate Gathering series, “Fahrenheit 451” will be Thursday night in Rudder Theatre.

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