Kurt Vonnegut - American Master Of Literature.

Kurt Vonnegut -Master Of American Literature.

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Kurt Vonnegut

One of the better books that I'd ever laid my dollar bills on a counter to collect is called Three By Vonnegut, and it is a book that contains the three most well known short novels by the finest American satirist the nation was ever so lucky to receive. We live in a dumb world, everyone seems to be a bumbling idiot, buffoon, fool, or some sort of materialist retard that believes and does what they are told to do - everyone seems to be stupid, and in the novels of Kurt Vonnegut, everyone pretty much is.

...but the Man, Kurt Vonnegut Jr., was anything BUT stupid, and he was from a family that was full of non fools like himself.

Of course Kurt Vonnegut would lead quite an interesting and lucky life, and so he shared the luck with us all by taking the time to create his fiction. Thank God for the underground slaughterhouse in Dresden, Germany that housed the great literary genius, Kurt Vonnegut; while the Americans stupidly, and out of pure revenge murdered hundreds of thousands of German citizens, and an entire city which held no strategic significance at all for the already defeated Nazis.

Kurt Vonnegut Jr. US Army, World War Two.

Dresden, Germany - Before And After Allied Mass Murder

Kurt Vonnegut On "Cat's Cradle," And Personal Responsibility.

The Early Life Of Kurt Vonnegut

Born in Indianapolis, Indiana to a family of brilliant German Americans, Kurt was a junior, and would later in life drop the tag on his name when his father would pass away. The Vonnegut men were all extremely bright, and not just anyone gets into the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, but Kurt the author would go instead to Cornell after graduating high school in 1940, and there he would study chemistry while also contributing to the university newspaper. War, of course, was alive in both Europe and Asia, so Kurt would enlist in the army.

It should be noted here that German Americans were often under a good deal of stress during the second world war - many of them were thought to possibly be secret Nazis, The army would transfer Kurt to the Carnegie Institute of Technology , and then to the University Of Tennessee, as they wanted Kurt studying mechanical engineering. His mother swallowed a lot of sleeping pills, and killed herself - Kurt was 21 years old - it was Mother's day, 1944.

Kurt Vonnegut would ship off for Europe for the allied invasion and sweep into Nazi Germany, and his life would be forever changed by what he'd witness with his own eyes, and later, his literature would be something inseparably entwined with the mind of an intellectual that had witnessed madness on a grand scale

Young Kurt Vonnegut Jr. would be captured by the Nazis, and he'd be made head of the allied POWs in the Nazi camp for a while simply because he could speak some German, and was an ethnic German; but Kurt would lose that position in a spate of young buck bravado - all the fresh POWs had known that the Russian army was advancing from the East, and that the allies were already in Germany was obvious, Kurt himself had been captured on German soil, so he'd spoke a bit about what he'd do to the Nazis himself when it was all over, even a brilliant man of that age is often foolish with testosterone, so Kurt was beaten, and lost his bit of prison position.

The quarters and location for Kurt Vonnegut's prisoner of war experience would become something of fact and literary legend - the group of prisoners were housed n an old underground slaughterhouse, and number five - and because of this, they'd survive the never justified allied war crime, the mass slaughter of the civilian population of Dresden, Germany - a city with absolutely nothing in the way of military significance.

"There were too many corpses to bury. So instead the Germans sent in troops with flamethrowers. All these civilians' remains were burned to ashes." - Kurt Vonnegut

Slaughterhouse-Five, and is a central theme in at least six of Kurt's books, and besides that, the novel of the same name is something of a masterpiece of not just American literature - but somehing even larger, world literature. In that novel Kurt Vonnegut would meld history and literature, satire, and science fiction - how fitting that the novel would shake the minds and imaginations of the most sentient persons living! The great irony, that wars involve teams of heroes and villains on opposing sides, that stupid bit of duelist myth died in Dresden. Germany: and though the truth surely lived prior to Kurt Vonnegut's novel - another child of the cold hard truth was born with it.

Kurt Vonnegut - The Shapes Of Stories!

Cat's Cradle

While the imaginative works of Kurt Vonnegut are all very serious works, the author himself manages to incorporate such humor within those works that the reader is often affected in profound ways - so I've concluded personally that satire is superior to direct criticism of anything, I'll not ever forget or get tired of Cat's Cradle, and as Vonnegut's first major success; it sets the tone for the student of the author, and then more and higher standards than any previous writers of American stock than, perhaps any before him

The great novel concerns academic and scientific indifference, profound lacking of personal responsibility within the corporate ethos, and telling observations concerning the role that religion so often plays in the lives of the modern human. While I think Kurt Vonnegut had a profoundly effective way of criticizing modern society - I also see no possibility of emulating such a highly personal style. My opinion is that when a reader recognizes the technique, that is enough, and the lesson learned.

Cat's Cradle is one of the greatest works of fiction, in my opinion, in all of history - and I'll sat THAT fewer times than most who bother to write about literature, from ice-nine, to Bokononism - Kurt Vonnegut was a master story teller with the highest order of principles imaginable.

Kurt Vonnegut, anti corporate Humanist hero, also worked, briefly, for Sports Illustrated, and contributed the magazine it's due from such a superior intellect on a story about a runaway race horse-after staring at the blank piece of paper on his typewriter all morning, he typed,

"The horse jumped over the fucking fence," and then he left!

Nobel Prize Winner Bernard Vonnegut.

Kurt Vonnegut

Kurt Vonnegut At 82 Years.

Kurt Vonnegut - Personal Life And Death, Other Particulars.

Of course I've already mentioned that the family Vonnegut was full of brilliance benefiting humanity, and Kurt's brother Bernard certainly did us all terrific service, just as Kurt had. Bernard was a Nobel prize winner, and he invented cloud seeding, which if you don't know, allows us to instigate rain.

Kurt always attended massive social and political issues with his writing and his speaking - but his true beauty showed in the way he almost never attacked specific persons, Kurt went after issues!

"By saying that our leaders are power-drunk chimpanzees, am I in danger of wrecking the morale of our soldiers fighting and dying in the Middle East?" he wrote. "Their morale, like so many bodies, is already shot to pieces. They are being treated, as I never was, like toys a rich kid got for Christmas."

Vonnegut described himself variously as a skeptic, freethinker, humanist, Unitarian Universalist, agnostic, and atheist., He disbelieved in the supernatural, considered religious doctrine to be "so much arbitrary, clearly invented balderdash," and believed people were motivated by loneliness to join religions - I can assure you that of all the persons past or present fitting those descriptions, Kurt Vonnegut is my second favorite, and likely the only one that I'll get away with gushing my admiration over on this website - I'm none of those things, but I still very much benefit from the mind of Kurt Vonnegut.

Kurt Vonnegut had married his high school sweetheart after returning from Europe in world war two, they remained together until 1970, and then Kurt became an item with photographer Jill Krementz, and they married in 1979. Kurt would raise seven children, three of them his own, three adopted from his sister following her death from cancer, and another child he and his second wife adopted together.

Two of Kurt's children became published authors, and his first wife, Jane Marie Cox, would also publish a book, and hers was about the Family Vonnegut, Angels Without Wings: A Courageous Family's Triumph Over Tragedy.

Kurt Vonnegut was also a graphic artist of great talent,honorary president of the American Humanist Association, and an ardent supporter of the ACLU.

A lifelong smoker, Vonnegut smoked unfiltered Pall Mall cigarettes, a habit he referred to as a "classy way to commit suicide," he'd also threatened to sue, as the ciggarette boxes stated that he'd die from smoking, and into his 80's in years, they hadn't. On November 11, 1999, an asteroid was named in Vonnegut's honor: 25399 Vonnegut.

In Breakfast of Champions (1973), which includes many rough illustrations, lengthy non-sequiturs and an appearance by the author himself, as a deus ex machina.

"This is a very bad book you're writing," I said to myself.

"I know," I said.

"You're afraid you'll kill yourself the way your mother did," I said.

"I know," I said.

Honesty most brutal, brilliance unmatched, recuring themes and characters - the literature of Kurt Vonnegut had all of that, and more than I could name.

Vonnegut died on April 11, 2007 after falling down a flight of stairs in his home and suffering massive head trauma. Love conquers a multitude of sins, and Kurt Vonnegut seemed to have loved us all, Kurt was one of the rarest types of persons to affect my life, a man that lived and preached atheism, may he rest in peace.

Kurt Vonnegut

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Comments 36 comments

jolinabalcruz profile image

jolinabalcruz 4 years ago from Metro Manila Philippines

This is a very interesting Hub :) Thumbs up


Wesman Todd Shaw profile image

Wesman Todd Shaw 4 years ago from Kaufman, Texas Author

Thank You!!!!!!!!!

I tried to do him justice.


Perry the Cat profile image

Perry the Cat 4 years ago from Mouskin, Texas

His Breakfast of Champions is the book that taught me about the effects of suicide on families. His short stories were full of amazing thought and revolutionary ideas. Slaughterhouse Five's theme of life line travel is genius literary structure. It is not unlike Robert Heinlein's Lazarus Long character.

As far as I'm concerned, Vonnegut is a revolutionary genius.

Just sayin'


LiamBean profile image

LiamBean 4 years ago from Los Angeles, Calilfornia

I can't think of a single book he's written that I did not enjoy. Thanks for the wonderful article. Alongside Samuel Clemens, he is one of my favorite American authors.


Wesman Todd Shaw profile image

Wesman Todd Shaw 4 years ago from Kaufman, Texas Author

Perry - Agree!!! One of my fave cousins hung himself, my folks worry about me....but if anyone ever claims I went out like that, it's a frame job.

Liam - Kurt considered Clemens/Twain an "American Saint!!"


CJStone profile image

CJStone 4 years ago from Whitstable, UK

Wesman, we are obviously kindred spirits. My favourite writer, aside from William Golding, and now you've made me want to read all his books over again.


Wesman Todd Shaw profile image

Wesman Todd Shaw 4 years ago from Kaufman, Texas Author

Thanks very much, Good Sir!!!!

I take that as a great compliment!!


CJStone profile image

CJStone 4 years ago from Whitstable, UK

No problem! Here's my version of a Kurt Vonnegut review: http://hubpages.com/literature/Divine-Abstraction


whowas 4 years ago

This hub is stupendous Wesman! I'm loving this 'giants of literature' you're doing.

Kurt Vonnegut was, is and always will be one of my absolute favorite writers and yet I have known little of his autobiography until reading this. He's a true and deserving hero for our times as well as a great writer.

Thanks for doing him justice in this (and, to your very real credit, not dismissing him because he had such strong atheist convictions when you hold the opposite with equal conviction)

A great writer's life by a great hubber. Thank you.


Perry the Cat profile image

Perry the Cat 4 years ago from Mouskin, Texas

Wes,

There are a lot of suicides in my family and I suffer from bipolar disorder. Reading BOC made me realize that even though his mother died when he was 18, at 50 he was still furious with her. I realized I couldn't have people I love that angry with me for that long, so it helps a lot.


whowas 4 years ago

...er...when I said 'autobiography' obviously I meant 'biography' : I guess I was a bit tired.


christopheranton profile image

christopheranton 4 years ago from Gillingham Kent. United Kingdom

Your enthusiasm for your subject is galvanising. I should read some of his books.

Great hub Wesman. Thanks.


Wesman Todd Shaw profile image

Wesman Todd Shaw 4 years ago from Kaufman, Texas Author

Whowas - THANKS FOR THE TERRIFIC COMMENT AND ENCOURAGEMENT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

It's the Dawkins brand people that bother me, Kurt was too busy being wonderful to act like a dick. :)


Wesman Todd Shaw profile image

Wesman Todd Shaw 4 years ago from Kaufman, Texas Author

Hey Perry - we might be related!!! I bet we could pass some similar stories back and forth!


CJStone profile image

CJStone 4 years ago from Whitstable, UK

Kurt also called himself a socialist, a very unfashionable word in the USA (though marginally more acceptable over here).


Wesman Todd Shaw profile image

Wesman Todd Shaw 4 years ago from Kaufman, Texas Author

Hey CJ....the hideous Fox "news" people butchered him shamelessly after he died, you can find that clip if you want it, but if I see it again it might make my day go badly :;


Wesman Todd Shaw profile image

Wesman Todd Shaw 4 years ago from Kaufman, Texas Author

Hey Chris!!!!!!! If you read "Cat's Cradle" - I don't think you'll be disappointed!!!


alancaster149 profile image

alancaster149 4 years ago from Forest Gate, London E7, U K (ex-pat Yorkshire)

I saw the film 'SLAUGHTERHOUSE FIVE' with Jon Voigt in the starring role, hilarious mainly. Flyer loses his boots so the Germans give him fancy-looking rubber ones, some WWI veteran in the Dresden crowd sees him and attacks him for not being sombre enough. Dresden was targeted by Arthur 'Bomber' Harris because the Russians wanted us to throttle troop movements through the city. As many European cities were razed by the Nazis (including Warsaw and Coventry) why should the German cities be exempt from the carnage? There were German troop movements, as well as refugees - probably true - but I don't suppose the Germans counted the 20 million Russian civilian casualties they inflicted in Russia?


Wesman Todd Shaw profile image

Wesman Todd Shaw 4 years ago from Kaufman, Texas Author

Alan - true but pointless murder is all the same, I can hardly call allied troops "the good guys" if they're all behaving the same way. The war was truly already won, and our guys did that to a civilian city.

I can rationalize dropping the A bombs in Japan, but I can't make sense of what we did in Dresden.

I might have to check that old flick out!


Randy Godwin profile image

Randy Godwin 4 years ago from Southern Georgia

As a longtime fan of Vonnegut's work I really enjoyed learning more about him, Wesman. Too, my father helped liberate some of the Holocaust camps in Germany during his service to our country, so I can identify with Kirk's life a bit. Thanks for another great hub!

SSSSS


Wesman Todd Shaw profile image

Wesman Todd Shaw 4 years ago from Kaufman, Texas Author

THANK YOU RANDY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I got sad wwII stories - but mostly from the South Pacific.

I did have one great uncle die on Normandy beach though!


bethperry profile image

bethperry 4 years ago from Tennesee

Wesman, you did Mr. Vonnegut great with this article. I was drawn to his work when I was 16 years old and loved him ever since. There are very few celebrities of any field that manage to truly impress me by the way they lived their lives, and Mr. V. is on that list. Thanks so much for posting.

Voting up.


Wesman Todd Shaw profile image

Wesman Todd Shaw 4 years ago from Kaufman, Texas Author

Thanks very much Beth!!!!!

I could go on and on about Kurt - but internet readers most often have short attention spans - so I try to do my best with text limits :)


Randy Godwin profile image

Randy Godwin 4 years ago from Southern Georgia

I know what you mean, Wesman. My dad also landed at Omaha Beach, fought in the Battle of the Bulge under Patton and went on onto Germany. He had 2 brothers who also fought in WWII, one in the Pacific and the other in the Aleutians.

Great men they were!

SSSSS


Wesman Todd Shaw profile image

Wesman Todd Shaw 4 years ago from Kaufman, Texas Author

Randy one great uncles survived the Bataan Death March, and Jap torture in pow camp.....he came home a very sad very damaged and dangerous person.

My grandfather was old before he could forgive anything Japanese :/


Randy Godwin profile image

Randy Godwin 4 years ago from Southern Georgia

My uncle "Chick" fought the Japanese in the Philippines and told me many tales about the ordeal. Not long ago i had the pleasure of examining and authenticating an officer's sword, a bugle, a flag, and other war spoils he brought back. I also knew a local man who survived the death march and know they suffered a cruel time.

SSSSS


Wesman Todd Shaw profile image

Wesman Todd Shaw 4 years ago from Kaufman, Texas Author

Hey Randy - my grandpa was on Guam....and I got a badass knife he made out of a dead Jap officer's bayonet !!!

http://www.myspace.com/WesmanTodd/photos/18721124#...


Randy Godwin profile image

Randy Godwin 4 years ago from Southern Georgia

I couldn't see the photos, Wesman. I can't log in to MySpace. Cool though!

SSSSS


Ugly Honest profile image

Ugly Honest 4 years ago from Within the New York/DC Megalopolis

W.T.S.

When I saw you'd written about Kurt Vonnegut I'm sure I smiled .. I wasn't disappointed .... Great Work ... Slaughterhouse, Five, Breakfast of Champions, Deadeye Dick, classics all ... My personal favorite is"Player Piano' which I recently reread ... It was better this time.. Thanks


Wesman Todd Shaw profile image

Wesman Todd Shaw 4 years ago from Kaufman, Texas Author

Thank you very much Kind Sir!!!

I can't see how anyone wouldn't love Kurt...unless they just happened to prefer war and war profits, but should those beings even be considered human?


jonmcclusk profile image

jonmcclusk 2 years ago from Cinnaminson, New Jersey

Great article, great man, great writer, and great article. Said something twice, you say? Eh, I'll catch it in editing.


Wesman Todd Shaw profile image

Wesman Todd Shaw 2 years ago from Kaufman, Texas Author

Thanks very very much, Jon. "Cat's Cradle" is absolutely one of the finest books I've ever read, and I've sure read a lot of great books too.


teaches12345 profile image

teaches12345 2 years ago

Interesting person. Thanks for the background information.


Michelle Viveiros 2 years ago

Loved the Shapes of Stories video! It really shows the difference between his method of storytelling in comparison to what's out there today, explained in a way only he could!

For any other fans out there, check out: http://sweb1.dmit.nait.ca/~mviveiros2/vonnegut-fan...


Brandon Bledsoe profile image

Brandon Bledsoe 16 months ago from Houston, Texas

Awesome


Wesman Todd Shaw profile image

Wesman Todd Shaw 9 months ago from Kaufman, Texas Author

Thanks Teaches, Michelle, and Brandon :) That 'Shapes Of Stories' vid is pretty priceless. How awesome it must have been to get to see the man on stage or in any sort of lecture hall!

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