by Lorraine Payette, written February 25, 2014
“IT WAS A PLEASURE TO BURN. IT was a special pleasure to see things eaten, to see things blackened and changed. With the brass nozzle in his fists, with this great python spitting its venomous kerosene upon the world, the blood pounded in his head, and his hands were the hands of some amazing conductor playing all the symphonies of blazing and burning to bring down the tatters and charcoal ruins of history. With his symbolic helmet numbered 451 on his stolid head, and his eyes all orange flame with the thought of what came next, he flicked the igniter and the house jumped up in a gorging fire that burned the evening sky red and yellow and black. He strode in a swarm of fireflies. He wanted above all, like the old joke, to shove a marshmallow on a stick in the furnace, while the flapping pigeon-winged books died on the porch and lawn of the house. While the books went up in sparkling whirls and blew away on a wind turned dark with burning…”
So begins Fahrenheit 451, the future fantasy nightmare created by literary master Ray Bradbury. This was a world where reading and books were illegal, where the control of the people had become total and the government feared nothing so much as the free spread of knowledge to those it would enslave.
What would we do without our ability to read, and to read freely? To write and to share our memories, our hopes, our dreams with the world? What happens when we ban books, or take away the very right to read?
“Rideau Lakes Public Library and Rideau Island and Lakes Theatre School are hosting an event to celebrate ‘Freedom to Read Week’ this Friday in Delta,” says Vicki Stevenson. “(Please come out and) exercise your Freedom to Read with a celebration of banned books at the Delta Branch of the Rideau Lakes Public Library Friday, February 28, 2014.
“The ‘Burning Books Coffee House’ is an evening of featured readings from selected works that have been banned or challenged. An ‘open mic’ is available for anyone who would like to read from their own favourite banned book. The doors open at 7:30 p.m. and the event is free of charge, with coffee and goodies being served.”