How Retyping A Bradbury Novel Publicized Banned Books Week

Performance artist Tim Youd spent six days in an Indianapolis library retyping Ray Bradbury’s novel Fahrenheit 451 to draw attention to Banned Books Week.

He used a Royal KMM typewriter, similar to Bradbury’s. And courtesy of the Center for Ray Bradbury studies at IUPUI, he did his typing while sitting at the actual desk Bradbury used when he wrote the novel.

This was the 26th stop on Youd’s quest to retype 100 novels across the country. Each time he selects the same make and model of typewriter owned by the original author, then types the entire novel on a single sheet of paper, often having to mend the page with tape so he can keep feeding it through the typewriter. At the same time he speaks the words aloud.

A local Indianapolis station aired a long video feature story about Youd’s marathon effort.

[Illinois Wesleyan University professor Kathleen] O’Gorman praised his effort saying, “He’s a presence and making a statement that is an ongoing statement that language is not dangerous and ideas, we should not be afraid of them,”

Stacks of banned books surrounded Youd throughout the process, including the likes of “Where the Wild Things Are,” “Harry Potter,” and “The Great Gatsby.”

“The idea that we can live in a world where we’re limited or denied access to books is a frightening thought and it’s not an unreal thought,” added Youd.

Instead of framing the page to keep when he finished, as usual, Youd decided it was more in keeping with the theme to burn this one while an audience stood by.