"Dandelion Wine" A Story By Ray Bradbury
Dandelion Wine is a 1957 novel by Ray Bradbury, taking place in the summer of 1928 in the fictional town of Green Town, Illinois, based upon Bradbury's childhood home of Waukegan, Illinois. The novel developed from the short story "Dandelion Wine" which appeared in the June 1953 issue of Gourmet magazine.
The novel features a series of short stories loosely connected to summer occurrences, with Douglas and his family as recurring characters.
The title refers to a wine made with dandelion petals and other ingredients, commonly citrus fruit. In the story, dandelion wine, as made by the protagonist's grandfather, serves as a metaphor for packing all of the joys of summer into a single bottle.
Dandelions are a potent symbol of summer in the novel. While dandelions are only common growths in backyards and viewed by some as weeds, the Spauldings treat them as valuable possessions, converting them from simple plants into a medicine for winter. The making of dandelion wine thus reflects the pattern of Douglas' summer; events and things that would be seen as mundane by grown-ups gain magic and appreciation through his unbound imagination and thirst for adventure.
The main character of the story is Douglas Spaulding, a 12-year-old boy loosely patterned after Bradbury. Most of the book is focused upon the routines of small-town America, and the simple joys of yesterday.
Chapter 3 of the novel is also titled "Dandelion Wine". In this chapter, Dandelion wine is presented as a metaphor for summer, where it's bottled for the winter season of illnesses and wheezing. In Douglas' words: "Dandelion wine. The words were summer on the tongue. The wine was summer caught and stoppered."
In Chapter 12 (The Lawns of Summer), Douglas' grandfather begins the day, happily reveling in the sound of the lawn mower running on their lawn, an indicator to him that summer has truly begun. Grandma, however, tells him that Bill Forrester, the man cutting their grass, is planning to plant new grass on their lawn that will only grow to a certain height, thus eliminating the need for lawn mowers. Horrified at this, Grandpa gives Bill a firm lecture on how little things can matter more than the big ones, especially to experienced people like him. Bill attempts to change his mind, but only convinces Grandpa further of his position when he learns that the new grass will kill off the dandelions.
In Chapter 27 — July has ended, and thirty-one bottles of dandelion wine have been made. Douglas, remembering his recent string of losses of friends and machines, wonders why each bottle looks identical and not representative of the day it was made on. He says out loud that August will be tedious and uneventful, to which his grandfather attempts to remedy his melancholy with a swig of dandelion wine and some ordered exercises.
Farewell Summer, the official sequel to Dandelion Wine, was published in October 2006. While Farewell Summer is a direct continuation of the plot of Dandelion Wine, Something Wicked This Way Comes, a novel with a completely different plot and characters, is often paired with the latter because of their stylistic and thematic similarities. Together, the three novels form a Green Town trilogy. A fourth volume, Summer Morning, Summer Night, published in 2008, contains twenty-seven Green Town stories and vignettes, seventeen of which had never been published before
Some critics consider Dandelion Wine to be Bradbury's most personal work. According to Electric Literature, "The book is Bradbury’s masterpiece, his fullest, most deeply felt and lyrical expression, touching on his usual themes of youth, old age and small-town life but stripped of their usual layer of sci-fi remove." Georges D. Todds of the SF Site said that the novel's power lies in the "emotional attachment" it stirs in readers because it is almost completely nostalgia in contrast to Bradbury's usual blend of horror/science fiction and nostalgia. He stated that this trait was what set it apart from his other works: Certainly I would tell anyone wanting to know what makes Ray Bradbury the human being he is to read Dandelion Wine, and anyone wanting to know what makes Ray Bradbury the renowned writer he is to read The October Country or The Martian Chronicles.
*Bradbury wrote a stage adaptation of Dandelion Wine in 1988. A stage production was also done in 1992 in Manistee Michigan. *The novel was also made into a 1997 Russian film adaptation, titled Vino iz oduvanchikov. *Dandelion Wine was also produced as a full-cast radio play by the Colonial Radio Theatre on the Air, in 2006. Ray Bradbury wrote the script from his stage play, and the production was released by Blackstone Audio. *Hollywood producers Mike Medavoy and Doug McKay of Phoenix Pictures created a new American feature adaptation of Dandelion Wine, released in 2013.