douglasSP, you've hit upon the prime reason for this edition to be published. Most scholars who have written about Bradbury have based their analysis on the short story collections, although a few have looked at original magazine appearances. However, with the exception of Eller & Touponce's The Life of Fiction, this has led to mistaken ideas about Bradbury's development as a stylist, writer and thinker.
I happened to be browsing through Ray's 1990s collection Quicker Than The Eye yesterday, and noticed that all the stories within had 1990s copyright dates. And yet most of the stories were written many years earlier.
The critical edition will provide a whole new framework for appreciating Ray's work. Meanwhile Jon Eller's other project (Becoming Ray Bradbury, still being worked on) will give an account of Bradbury's intellectual development over time, revealing his influences. The two works taken together will be fascinating.
This will be fantastic! We can be grateful to Touponce, Eller, and Weller for their work on Bradbury--explaining him, recording him, and sharing the benefits of their talent and scholarship with us. Although I love Bradbury as a direct reader, I love the insights these gentlemen have provided us by their hard work. It is much appreciated!
Random thoughts about the Collected Stories:
1. I wonder how many volumes it would take to collect all Ray's stories? I'll take a wild guess and say 12 - 15. It's a tough call, because progress will be slow through the 1940s, but the subsequent decades should be easier to cope with. The density of new stories definitely hasn't been even over the years.
2. I find it fascinating that Ray had "The Small Assassin" in his inventory by the end of 1943, yet saw it published only in 1946. I wonder why that is? It's one of his undoubted classics, and I can only speculate that it was considered too shocking for most publications.
Oops - got to go. Will talk more about this fascinating project later.
douglasSP, I asked the editors a similar question: how many years would they be covering in a single volume? You're right that the "density" of stories is much greater in the early years, particularly since from the mid-1950s onwards Bradbury's output tended to be drawn more towards screenplays, teleplays, stage plays and poetry.
Many of the stories from LONG AFTER MIDNIGHT (1976?) onwards were written many years earlier.
"Small Assassin" is an interesting case. I know that Eller and Touponce are also fascinated by "Forever and the Earth", the story about Thomas Wolfe. This wasn't collected in a Bradbury book until the 1970s, was published in a magazine in 1950, but was first drafted in 1942. An important story which came to most readers in Bradbury's later career, but which originated in his very early career.
When I was at the Center for RB Studies, Jon Eller had just discovered an earlier manuscript version of this story. The 1942 manuscript still hasn't been located (and may be lost forever), but I think they have found a 1949 version that is significantly different from the version we know, suggesting that it may retain elements from the original 1942 draft.
(Disclaimer: I may have some of the dates slightly off in the above. The hazards of writing from memory and not being able to check one's notes...)
Whilst at Donn's archives, he showed me a rather large pile of papers he was currently compiling which he said was going to be a massive volume of Ray's career. I think it might have been this one. If so, it's exhaustive!
An example from my subjective reading experience shows how the dates of Ray Bradbury's stories can throw you.
When I grabbed Long After Midnight off the bookstore shelf in 1976, and especially when I read the book, I was fascinated by stories such as "The Better Part of Wisdom" and the title story. These stories deal with alternative lifestyles, and the seamier underbelly of urban life, respectively. I thought, "Gosh! Old dog, new tricks!". It really seemed to me that this was new subject matter for Ray. It was only much later that I discovered that the title story had first been published fourteen years earlier. Nothing all that new about it.
And of course, I would have been less surprised by "The Better Part of Wisdom" if my first reading of "The Cold Wind and the Warm" had been sharper.
So what Eller and Touponce have been doing is simply wonderful. They've done so much to give us newer and clearer perspectives on our favorite writer, and of course, to put his stuff in order. And I'm not forgetting Donn Albright, the golden retriever!
On the subject of "The Small Assassin" - that was my first exposure to Ray Bradbury, although it was many years before I knew it was by him. The occasion was a radio adaptation by Michael McCabe on South African radio; the year would have been around 1962 or 1963, and the show would possibly have been either "Beyond Midnight" or "The Creaking Door". It scared my parents and me silly - in the best possible way!
Phil, yes, I am fully aware that audio and visual media are your department
South African radio was quite interesting up to 1975, because that's the year the TV service was belatedly introduced. So there was quite a lot of dramatisation on the radio. The commercial station was called Springbok Radio, and a number of regular programmes (I'm talking to an Englishman now, hence the spelling ) featured adaptations of well known writers.
There are, as you are undoubtedly aware, websites dedicated to "old time radio", and I've seen some interesting listings and reminiscences dealing with Springbok Radio, but have not been able to find specific Bradbury information.
Michael McCabe was a very well known personality in SA radio, and involved in many suspense/horror/macabre productions, usually of half hour length. I don't know whether he is still alive today. I was born in 1954, and I'm talking about the 1960s here. I can state with complete certainty that "The Small Assassin" was done, because I remember the occasion vividly. My dad and I listened to the show with great (not to mention shivery) enjoyment, but my mom was sleeping over with relatives. When she returned the next morning, she put her handbag down on a kitchen chair, and one of the first things she said was, "We heard the SCARIEST story on the radio last night ...!"
I remember specifically that "A Miracle of Rare Device" was also done. Dunno why I remember that story specifically; I just do. Memory is like that. It could well be that "The Wind" was another adaptation, but now I'm reaching a bit.
I'll see what I can find out and will post any info of general interest right here, or otherwise get back to Phil directly.
Phil, I may have missed this, but did you get to meet with Ray while you were in the United States?
Not on this occasion, biplane - I only had time to visit Indianapolis and Waukegan/Chicago. I did meet Ray on a trip last year, however.
The manuscript for "Forever and the Earth" has just been discovered, but it is not related to the published story of 1950. It is in fact a completely different story as yet unpublished. An account of it will be given in Appendix B of the Collected Stories. It was a case of two manuscripts with the same title, one masking the other. This means that "Forever and Earth" will not appear in the first volume, as we now know that it dates from 1949. I have updated the volume contents posted earlier to reflect the newest additions - A Blade of Grass - (and have been busy revising my introduction). The manuscript of the Collected Stories goes to KSUP tomorrow, so we can all breathe a sigh of relief here. I had planned a lot of things for our website about the first volume, but unfortunately we just lost our "web person" to the recession. And so this seems the best place to post news!
Prof. TouponceThis message has been edited. Last edited by: Bill Touponce,
Thanks for the update, Bill. One of the hazards of Bradbury "archaeology" is that he re-uses titles for unrelated projects. What you and Jon are doing is fascinating, and we're all eagerly anticipating the results.
Prof. Touponce or anyone who might know,
I know there is a lot of work involved in these volumes, but is there an target schedule for the next volumes? One volume per year?
There must be upwards of 500 story texts to be studied and edited. I don't have an exact count of the number of stories that have been published in one form or another (thanks to Gauntlet Press, this number is constantly increasing), but it's certainly over 400.
Now, if you consider that the first volume contains 31 stories (33 texts in total, since there are two versions each of two of the stories), then you can see that this project may well take many years. Ray's stories have always been fairly consistent in length - few exceed 7,000 words - so you can do the math.
And, of course, there are complications. I get the impression that the stories to be reprinted in full are the published ones, but all the same, even the unpublished manuscripts are being studied, and details will be given in the books. And as you can tell from the above posts, new manuscripts are still being discovered!
Then there are the stories that exist in different versions, both of which are published. It may well be that both versions are worth publishing in full; we'll just have to wait and see how the editors approach these. But it will stretch the project quite a bit.
So, really, we shouldn't expect a completion of the project any time soon. The first volume is enough to keep me fascinated for a very long time.
Also, don't forget - mr Bradbury is still writing. Imagine the chaos he would cause if he wrote another piece called "Interim" or "Chrysalis"!
There is now! Jon Eller finished Becoming Ray Bradbury: 1920-1953 in June; it came in at 200,000 words, and is now going through final cuts (down to 150,000 words) as he finalises publication with the University of Illinois Press. The book is a largely biographical influence study of Bradbury's early life and career; Jon is now at work on the sequel, The World of Ray Bradbury: 1953-1972, and has completed the first 40,000 words of that volume. During the winter he will finalise the contents for the second volume of the Collected Stories of Ray Bradbury, which will cover the 1943-1944 period.
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