39 years ago on April 26, 1982, Ray Bradbury presented “Beyond 1984, what to do when the doom doesn’t arrive,”a lecture and reading at the Library of Congress.
Bradbury’s energetic performance traces his transformation from a young child whose love of books, dinosaurs, space travel, and writing sets him apart from his peers to a celebrated author who translates his passions into fiction that delights and inspires others. A consummate storyteller in person as well as on the page, Bradbury guides the audience through the serendipitous process of turning the germ of an idea into a finished story and provides a rare reading of “That Son of Richard III: A Birth Announcement.” First published in 1974 and then collected in the 1977 book Where Robot Mice and Robot Men Run Round in Robot Towns, the poem was inspired by Bradbury’s experience writing the screenplay for Moby Dick and explores William Shakespeare’s influence on Herman Melville.
Bradbury’s joy in sharing what he loves with others is palpable in this hour long recording. His own answer to the question, “What to do when the doom doesn’t arrive?” is clear: follow your heart and write!
Bradbury’s presentation is among the recordings offered online by the Archive of Recorded Poetry and Literature in the Library of Congress. Other programs feature Audre Lorde, Denise Levertov, Kurt Vonnegut, Margaret Atwood, and Ralph Ellison. The Archive is a treasure trove of nearly two thousand recordings from over 80 years of programming on Capitol Hill or at the Library’s Recording Laboratory. As the LOC digitizes more of these priceless materials, they will make them accessible online.