In the famous movie by Fran�ois Truffaut, Montag reads a passage from a novel to his wife and a group of her friends. What is the novel?
He was reading a poem called "Dover Beach" from a book of poetry.
By Matthew Arnold, I believe.
Besides the very dark modern tone of the poem, that's another reason I always thought "Dover Beach," by Matthew Arnold, must be a much more recent work than it actually is. For years I was under the impression that the poet was bummed-out by the bombing of Britain in WWII. This notion was further enforced when I saw the movie of F451 in which (for some unknown reason!) they didn't use that poem, but a prose passage. I thought the copyright must still be in effect on the poem, so they substituted a prose passage from an older work.
I believe the prose work in question was "David Copperfield," by Charles Dickens. Can't state this with 100% certainty as I've never actually read "David Copperfield"--just seen two or three of the movies--unfortunately, not the most recent, which heralded the "discovery" of young Daniel Radcliffe, better known as Harry Potter!
Not having read the book "David Copperfield" at all, or seen the movie of F451 in years, I can't identify the exact passage, but if I were you I'd start in Chapter 48 of "David Copperfield" and keep going--you'll find it. If you don't have a copy of the book handy, it can be found online here: http://www.gutenberg.net/etext96/cprfd10.txt
Maybe someone would be so kind as to check the book and movie and post the passage. You don't have to type it out--just copy and paste from the link provided!
Another funny thing about "David Copperfield" is it is the book that Melly reads to the others in the movie of "Gone with the Wind." That passage isn't hard to find as she starts at the beginning. Yet, in the book of "Gone with the Wind," Melly reads from "Les Miserables," by Victor Hugo. Charles Dickens, Victor Hugo, and (to my astonishment when I learned it!) Matthew Arnold were all 19th-Century writers, and their copyrights should have all been public domain by the time these 20th Century movies were made. What is the deal with substituting "David Copperfield" for the original works mentioned? It isn't the author's nationality, as Dickens and Arnold were both British and Hugo was French--so isn't a matter of favoring an American author over a European, as they were all European! What's the gag? If this is a conspiracy, I want to know what gives!?!
Could it be that the director was taking "poetic license?"
1. In both cases, why change it at all?
2. Why change it to the same work? Coincidence?
Was it just that "David Copperfield" was considered so familiar? In the case of GWTW, as I recall the main people behind it made a film of "David Copperfield" as well, so that might be an excuse in that case, but why in F451? Was Dickens considered sort of comforting and Arnold too darn depressing? The whole idea of the passage was the poetry MADE people uncomfortable!
I used F451 in a Seventh Grade English Class. Final project was to have students defend their favorite book, first in persuasive essay, then persuasive speech. While in the process, I did some homework on Matthew Arnold. I provide a quote that I provided the students. It was a little heady for them, but I am interested in discussion. Here we go.
Arnold was the only writer of the period (Victorian Age) indeed, one of the very few of literature- equally distinguished in prose and poetry. In his day he was best known as an essayist and a critic. The problems of society he though could be solved through the applicaion of intelligence; the greatest need was true culture. In literature he sought to restore the classic tradition, and in his well-inown controversy with Huxley he argued for the classical and cultural in education as opposed to the scientific and practical. He was especially unsympathetic with such glorification of materialistic progress and provincialism as was represented in Macaulay. Nor could he agree with Carlyle that spiritual earnestness was sufficient. The salvation of society could be attained in no one system of thought, but by a �study of perfection,�based on the civilizations of other ages and outher countries; by a combination of �sweetness and light,� a balance between the intellectual and the moral. In religion he held for the rejection of all creeds, condemning alike indifference and fanaticism. His prose style is marked by an admirable precision and clarity; he sometimes writes, however, with a certain air of condescension.
An Anthology of English Literature, ed., Roger Philip McCutcheon. Henry Holt & Co., NY 1931, p. 837.
Sounds like I would have liked the guy. It really does make you think about what your approach to life is. There's room for a lot of interesting discussion there.
For anyone who has read "Tom Brown's School-Days," he was the son of the headmaster described in the book. For anyone who hasn't read it, for SHAME! READ it! I'm going to read "David Copperfield." Truly, I am!
So which side do you take? Huxley or Arnold?
I go with Arnold. The sciences are critical. Who would want to deal with a 12th century technology. But I think that Arnold's approach opens the door to meaning and significance. I'll take Arnold (although I like Huxley, also).
After receiving a surprising number of replies to my original question, I ransacked my DVD collection to find the movie. To my utter dismay, it was gone. To make a long story short, I finally bought a copy at the local Frye's Electronics for $10, a newer version than my original copy, which has commentary by Julie Christie, et al. BTW, the movie inspired me to read the book which is different in some minors ways, that, I'm sure, Mr. Bradbury would approve, especially, the last part with the Book People. I also bought a copy of David Copperfield at Barnes & Noble for $8. Amazing, that these two great works would be so cheap! I was able to identify the source of Montag's reading and it is, in fact, as dandelion mentioned, in chapter 48 of David Copperfield, quoted across 5 paragraphs. Oskar Werner's reading adds another level of poignancy to a passage with and amazingly modern timbre:
"There can be no disparity in marriage, like unsuitability of mind and purpose." ... I had endeavoured to adapt Dora to myself, and found it impracticable. It remained for me to adapt myself to Dora; to share with her what I could, and be happy; ... It made my second year much happier than my first; and, what was better still, made Dora's life all sunshine.
But, as that year wore on, Dora was not strong. I had hoped that lighter hands than mine would help to mould her character, and that a baby-smile upon her breast might change my child-wife to a woman. It was not to be.
My pretty Dora! ... we thought she would be "running about as she used to do", in a few days. But they said, wait a few days more; and then, wait a few days more; and still she neither ran nor walked.
I began to carry her downstairs every morning, and upstairs every night.
But, sometimes, when I took her up, and felt that she was lighter in my arms, a dead blank feeling came upon me, as if I were approaching to some frozen region yet unseen, that numbed my life. I avoided the recognition of this feeling by any name, or by any communing with myself; until one night, when it was very strong upon me, and my aunt had left her with a parting cry of "Good night, Little Blossom," I sat down at my desk alone, and cried to think, Oh what a fatal name it was, and how the blossom withered in its bloom upon the tree!
Am I correct in assuming that you are referring to Matthew Arnold as the son of the headmaster in "Tom Brown's School-Days"?
Correct on both counts! Matthew Arnold was the son of Headmaster Arnold in "Tom Brown's School-days," AND I had the correct book and chapter for the quote from a movie which I hadn't seen in YEARS! Am I great or WHAT?
Or WHAT? Thanks all for some interesting reading. I look forward to more discussion about RB literature, and literature in general. W/R
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