Taking Notes: "Preface and Acknowledgement" in Ray Bradbury: The Life of Fiction (2004) by Jonathan R. Eller & William F. Touponce

Jonathan R. Eller & William F. Touponce, Ray Bradbury: The Life of Fiction (Kent, Ohio: Kent State University Press, 2004)

Preface and Acknowledgement (pp. xv-xxii) [All Boldface Are Mine]

p. xv
...... When we compare variations as they appear across successive publications of his [Bradbury's] stories and books, hidden pathways begin to appear, and we can discern the fundamental process of creativity that is Bradbury's focus as a writer. The first goal of this book is to make these textual pathways visible to Bradbury's readers.

Our second goal is to illuminate another kind of textual transformation: Bradbury's movement from the margins to the mainstream of American literary culture. ......
p. xvi
We believe we have found a textual and cultural process--"carnivalization"--to be at the heart of Bradbury's authorship. ...... We argue that Bradbury has "carnivalized" genres in ways that are uniquely personal to him.

Mainstream literary criticism has tended to situate the fantasy genre (which in our view includes science fiction) at the margins of literary creativity, but in his aesthetic Bradbury insists that fantasy is central to our cultural health. This is indeed the "argument" at the heart of his fiction. ...


As an author of fantasy, Bradbury insists that without fictions life would become unbearable, a conviction he shares with the late romantics and the philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche. ...... Indeed, in nearly all of his major fiction, we can discern a struggle with psychoanalytic culture as a kind of "internalized Gothic" and a carnivalization of that culture. ...
p. xviii
...... Bradbury writes from a carnival sense of life that is visible to varying degrees in all of his fiction.
p. xix
Finally, the title of our book--Ray Bradbury: The Life of Fiction--is intended to be read in a double sense. As we have mentioned, it is Bradbury's firm belief as a writer that life without fictions is unbearable. We believe that his writings have much to tell us about the need for the fantastic in culture, and this book is to a large extent an investigation into the ways in which such writings affirm the life of the author. But there is an equally important sense in which we mean the phrase "the life of fiction" to be taken--the complicated and fascinating life of Bradbury's texts themselves, much of it previously hidden from view. Therefore, we have not written a conventional "life of fiction" work about Bradbury, seeking to relate his works to his private life, but instead have undertaken the more difficult and, we think, significant task of discovering the ways in which textual criticism and textual thematics can combine to illuminate the major writings of one of America's most popular authors.

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