WTF Fun Fact 13181 – Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451 Draft

The first draft of author Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451 was written on a rented coin-operated typewriter in 1953. It charged 10 cents for every 30 minutes. People estimate that the monetary cost of producing the draft was around $9.80.

What is Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451

You may have heard of the iconic dystopian novel in high school or college. At least, hopefully. If you’ve only heard about it in the news, chances are you’re not getting the full story (in more ways than one).

Bradbury wrote his novel during the Red Scare and McCarthy era, a time of ideological strife and oppression as the Nazis burned books and Americans threatened to. Some see connections between the current political climate and the one Bradbury wrote in, so the book occasionally comes up during political conversations. As with any book, it’s better to read it for yourself (and also know a bit about the precise context in which it was written since Bradbury was not commenting on 21st-century matters).

The author has given a few different motivations for his writing – fear of American book burnings, fear of mass media (specifically, the rise of radio and television) ruining our interest in literature, and government censorship. Again, these are all things we worry about today, but in a different context.

If you know anything about Bradbury himself, it can further complicate the reading of the book. He felt that political correctness was a form of censorship, but also abhored politics in general, especially in education.

Set in the distant future, the book is about “firemen” who are charged with burning any book they find. The main character eventually grows disenchanted and dedicates himself to the preservation of books.

Bradbury’s basement writing

Bradbury had great disdain for media consumption via radio, TV, and later the Internet. In his later years, he often encouraged students to “live in the library” instead. Unable to afford college, he educated himself at the Los Angeles Public Library. But he was also disappointed by their lack of science fiction literature.

Nevertheless, in the early 1950s, he worked in the basement at UCLA’s Powell Library. He had children at home, so needed a quiet place. It was there that he typed out the first draft (or novella version) of Fahrenheit 451. It was originally called “The Fireman.”

As for the title, according to Open Culture (cited below):

“When it came to finding the book’s title, however, supposedly the temperature at which books burn, not only did the library fail him, but so too did the university’s chemistry department. To learn the answer, and finish the book, Bradbury finally had to call the fire department.”  WTF fun facts

Source: “Ray Bradbury Wrote the First Draft of Fahrenheit 451 on Coin-Operated Typewriters, for a Total of $9.80” — Open Culture

WTF Fun Fact 12551 – The Six-Sided Book

A 16th-century book with a single binding is constructed so that it can be read in 6 different ways and contains six different texts. All six books are religious and were first printed in Germany in the 1550s and 1570s. Each book has its own tiny clasp closure.

Erik Kwakkel, a medieval book historian at The University of British Columbia, Vancouver, first discovered a type of book he dubbed a “Siamese twin” about eight years ago.

“The binding is called “dos-à-dos” (back to back), a type almost exclusively produced in the 16th and 17th centuries. They are like Siamese twins in that they present two different entities joint at their backs: each part has one board for itself, while a third is shared between the two. Their contents show why this was done: you will often find two complementary devotional works in them, such as a prayerbook and a Psalter, or the Bible’s Old and New Testament. Reading the one text you can flip the “book” to consult the other,” he wrote.

Check it out:

From the Folger Library

But when he posted about the 6-sided book, the oddity was picked up by a wide range of news sources. It’s an incredible piece of technology (a word we now reserve mainly for electronic capabilities).

It’s incredible what you can find in library archives!

The book was discovered in the National Library of Sweden. It is also referred to as a dos-à-dos, and Kwakkel states:

“Not only is it a rather old one (it was bound in the late 16th century), but it contains not two but six books, all neatly hidden inside a single binding (see this motionless pic to admire it). They are all devotional texts printed in Germany during the 1550s and 1570s (including Martin Luther, Der kleine Catechismus) and each one is closed with its own tiny clasp. While it may have been difficult to keep track of a particular text’s location, a book you can open in six different ways is quite the display of craftsmanship.” –  WTF fun fact

Source: “A Medieval Book That Opens Six Different Ways, Revealing Six Different Books in One” — Open Culture