Friday, July 23, 2010

Rocket Summer: “Jemima True” a previously unpublished piece by Ray Bradbury

In last week’s post focusing on the new, long-awaited, already-sold-out, expanded, limited, signed, 750-page The Martian Chronicles: The Complete Edition (2009), by literary giant Ray Bradbury, I blogged about the little-known bridge “The Martian Ghosts.” This week, I’m looking at another gem: “Jemima True.”

“Jemima True” (2009) is a previously unpublished one-page “dizzying fragment” that begins with the arrival on Mars of a woman, presumably a prostitute, named Jemima True, moves into the building of an Earth-like town, and ends with a child running around with a Halloween mask. Here are the opening lines:
JEMIMA TRUE came to the planet Mars in the spring of the year 2160 and the men of the new town put down their feet and turned to watch her pass. For she was a lovely thing, a thistle, and they stood looking long after she drifted from sight.

It was the sixth building in the town to be hammered together and it had a flight of stairs leading up and a door at the top to be opened, and a long hall beyond the door into which you might peer at women with bodies like mother-of-pearl....
“Jemima True” is the seventh of the "Other Martian Tales" but there is no firm indication as to when it was originally written.

Interestingly, the name “Jemima” has Biblical significance, for she was the first daughter of Job. Also, there were several women in 17th and 18th-century New England named “Jemima True,” one of whom married a fellow named Thomas Bradbury. And, Maria: or, The Wrongs of Woman, a work written by Mary Wollstonecraft that was published posthumously in 1798, features an abused working-class domestic servant named “Jemima” who ends up turning to prostitution.

Lastly, it's worth noting that Bradbury’s “Jemima True” mentions a man named “Tom Wolfe.” According to The Bradbury Chronicles: The Life of Ray Bradbury (2005), by Sam Weller, writer Thomas Wolfe (1900-1938) “taught me how to throw up. His books were immense upchuckings. Not much plot, but he was wild about life and he tore into it and he jumped up and down and he yelled."

Comments, additions, or corrections are welcome!

No comments: