Youmans (pronounced like 'yeoman' with an 's' added) is the best-kept secret
among contemporary American writers. --John Wilson, editor, Books and Culture Marly Youmans is a novelist and poet out of sync with the times
but in tune with the ages. --First Things

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

The world's books on fire--

image from Truffaut's movie of Bradbury's Fahrenheit 451
Dear Ray Bradbury,

In Fahrenheit 451, you predicted shallow stories on flat-screen televisions that made people drift away from books. You predicted people so caught up in their portable media that they forgot to interact with others. And you showed us how easy it is to conform to a mass media.

You did not live to see book treasures 5000 years old, along with modern-era poetry, novels, scientific works, health treatises, unapproved religious works, and more make a huge bonfire of the vanities, lit by those who taught their world that culture, civilization, and science were evils. Such men would burn your books and mine, and obliterate even Shakespeare. You did not live to hear that hiding books and precious manuscripts meant death.

And when you were alive and dreamed all culture burned, you dreamed the fire happened in America, but about the place you were wrong.


  1. "Such men would burn your books and mine, and obliterate even Shakespeare." The emphasis is clearly on the word "men." However, I wonder why women (often outnumbering men) throughout history have tolerated men's degradation of the world. I wonder why. Men are fools. Women should know better.

    But, putting that provocation aside, I say that I admire your thought-provoking posting. I might even dig out a copy of F451, a book I haven't revisited in many years.

    1. It did say "people" at first. Then I realized that in this particular case it was, indeed, all men. They no doubt see purification and refining fire, rather than degradation.

    2. Of course, women were helpless to save their young daughters from being enslaved and raped--and themselves--it's just a fact that a man with a sword is your master if you are a woman. And even if you are a poor Egyptian, gone to make a little money in Libya. So I don't know that women have been able to help themselves, or to stop the sex that is larger and stronger. We like to pretend that women and men are the same in this century, but they are not.


Alas, I must once again remind large numbers of Chinese salesmen and other worldwide peddlers that if they fall into the Gulf of Spam, they will be eaten by roaming Balrogs. The rest of you, lovers of grace, poetry, and horses (nod to Yeats--you do not have to be fond of horses), feel free to leave fascinating missives and curious arguments.