The Washington Post

Ray Bradbury dies: Favorite quotes from the ‘Fahrenheit 451’ author

Author Ray Bradbury on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in April 1997. (Fred Prouser/Reuters)

The “Fahrenheit 451” author tried to write 1,000 words a day, according to the Associated Press. After his death, Bradbury fans took to Twitter to remember the writer — in his own words.

Below are some of Bradbury’s most poignant quotes. If your favorite isn’t listed, please share it in the comments. We’ll continue to update this post.

On Writing

Bradbury often gave advice to young writers, and in 1990 he wrote a book of essays called “Zen in the Art of Writing.” In the book, Bradbury riffed on the magnetism of his craft:

“You must stay drunk on writing so reality cannot destroy you.”

“Writing is supposed to be difficult, agonizing, a dreadful exercise, a terrible occupation.”

On Learning

Bradbury was a strong advocate for libraries, once telling the New York Times: Libraries raised me. ... I couldn’t go to college, so I went to the library three days a week for 10 years.”

On Books

“Fahrenheit 451” was set in a dystopic society in which books were outlawed. One of Bradbury’s famous quotes alludes to what happens when books are not valued:

“You don’t have to burn books to destroy a culture. Just get people to stop reading them.”

On Life

”We are an impossibility in an impossible universe.” -- Ray Bradbury #RIPRayBradbury

— Dalek Thay (@DalekThay) June 6, 2012

Bradbury recently penned an essay for the New Yorker in which he wrote about his childhood fascination with Mars, which ultimately led him to write a story called “The Fire Balloons.”

The essay, titled “Take Me Home,” captures the memories that influenced Bradbury’s work.

While I remained earthbound, I would time-travel, listening to the grownups, who on warm nights gathered outside on the lawns and porches to talk and reminisce. At the end of the Fourth of July, after the uncles had their cigars and philosophical discussions, and the aunts, nephews, and cousins had their ice-cream cones or lemonade, and we’d exhausted all the fireworks, it was the special time, the sad time, the time of beauty. It was the time of the fire balloons.

”Stuff your eyes with wonder,’ he said, ‘live as if you’d drop dead in ten seconds.” - Ray Bradbury

— Janna O’Shea (@dreamyeyed) June 6, 2012

On Death

On Wednesday, Bradbury’s grandson Danny Karapetian told science fiction Web site i09 that if he had to remember his grandfather with a single passage, it would come from the introduction of “The Illustrated Man,” Bradbury’s 1951 book of science fiction short stories. Karapetian counts this as his favorite line:

“My tunes and numbers are here. They have filled my years, the years when I refused to die. And in order to do that I wrote, I wrote, I wrote, at noon or 3:00 A.M.

So as not to be dead.”

It’s fitting to end with this take on death — from Bradbury’s 1962 novel “Something Wicked This Way Comes.”

Death doesn’t exist. It never did, it never will. But we've drawn so many pictures of it, so many years, trying to pin it down, comprehend it, we've got to thinking of it as an entity, strangely alive and greedy. All it is, however, is a stopped watch, a loss, an end, a darkness. Nothing.

Bethonie Butler is a producer and a reporter on The Post’s engagement team. She oversees online comments and has also contributed to The Style Blog and She The People.


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