If they begin to burn all books?

23 July 2013 Kerala Commentary

What would you do if they begin to burn all the books?

In Language, Literature and Criticism

What would you do if they begin to burn all the books? 
Started by: Ronald Hadrian.

Ray Bradbury's masterpiece is certainly a compelling read. The story is simple. It is about an American society in the future that burns books.

P S Remesh Chandran Trivandrum • The question is, how a heavy mass of old books can be dealt with. Books which have been our long-time companions would certainly have transferred to us what they want to tell to this world and posterity. It is good to record the noteworthy things in them in good uniform-sized diaries, especially beautiful passages, burning sentences, immortal utterances, memorable remarks, so that some one from the coming generation who accidentally stumbles upon our diaries would be tempted to read those books in their original form. That is what we can do to those immortal creations of our bygone generations. No one will ever again go through those thumbed up volumes. So go ahead and burn them, give them a decent burial, after preserving their real content. And keep the gems with you, which can be easily read while lying cozily somewhere. Feel relaxed to bear fewer burdens. Always remember to buy standard size, light weight paperbacks in future. If we remembered and followed this rule of buying light weight books always, the burning would be easy.

P S Remesh Chandran Trivandrum • Burning books in not new or rare. It happened in every age and in almost all societies and it happens even today. Some human societies consider touching a book with one's body except the fingers, stepping over them or lying over them, an unforgiven sin. But greater number of societies found it no sin to burn whole collections and invaluable libraries, when they conquered enemy and hostile civilizations. Turks burned Christian's knowledge bases and Christians in their turn those of others. Buddhists were the greatest to loose till very recently. The greatest ancient university in the world where students from almost all countries graduated, Naalanda in Asia, where lecturers travelled in campus on horses and professors upon elephants, lost its library which stretched and stretched across buildings, this way. And the hundreds and hundreds of university buildings also were burned down. Wiping out knowledge bases of enemies was the first thing visionary leaders of victorious armies ordered, except perhaps the Alexander of Macedonia. Today books are burned as a symbol of religious and political protest against the things they contain. Undemocratic governments, military administrations and fascists also confiscate books and burn them.

P S Remesh Chandran Trivandrum • Books indeed are valuable educational materials, which in many countries readers and students find difficult to buy due to their poverty or these books' non-availability. The first free service to provide students with free books, even at the risk of collapse of a country's economy was, the Mir and the Progress publishers of the Soviet Union for which they should be praised by the world. They printed good books in great numbers, both science and literature, belonging to both Russian and the World Literature, shipped them to third world countries and underdeveloped countries, and issued them free or at throw-away prices to students, general readers and researchers. Millions of students benefited from this generosity of the people of Russia and became doctors, engineers and scientists, which otherwise they could not have done, considering the price of study text books. The world is thankful to the Russians for doing this. This did contribute to the collapse of their economy and to save their economy, they had to do away with this gesture of goodwill of theirs recently. Wherever a book is burned, know that there will be a person somewhere in the world who is deserving and wishing to read that book but unfortunately is unable to purchase it. When we have to burn books, know that it is better to ship them to deserving countries and people, like used clothes. Great publishers burn unsold books in millions, to keep new editions moving and also to keep prices not falling. First they remove the cover, to prevent the book from coming again to market through unorthodox channels. Then they ship it to burning yards, defying the needs of the poor to read them. Great book godowns also are believed to do this when their bank mortgage fails and they are auctioned, to clear space without violating conditions of publishing and selling. The Russian gesture was the right answer but since their withdrawal from the scene, large scale book shredding and burning by large companies have only multiplied and books have become unaffordable articles to students. No other country has ever been known to have the good will to help book readers the old Russian way. Whatever accusations we have against the Russian Communist Party about their totalitarianism and partisanism, we shall not forget to be thankful for their exporting free knowledge.

P S Remesh Chandran Trivandrum • Suppose they not only begin to burn all the books but are nearly finishing it too, with the exemption of allowing one single set of books to survive, what will you choose as the exemption? I will prefer English Verse In Five Volumes, selected and edited by W. Peacock. If they do not allow a set of books but only one, it shall be Palgrave's Golden Treasury.


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Posted In Language, Literature and Criticism
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23 July 2013 Kerala Commentary