Drawing on his experiences as a young man in the Great Depression and the Second World War, Kurt Vonnegut created a new style of fiction responsive to the post-war world and unique in its appeal to both popular audiences and avant-garde critics. His work was profoundly innovative and yet perfectly lucid. In this comprehensive introductory study, originally published in 1982, Jerome Klinkowitz traces Vonnegut’s influences within the American middle class, his early efforts as a short-story writer for magazines in the 1960s and his startling and unprecedented success as a bestselling experimental novelist with Slaughterhouse-Five. His self-consciously moral posture led to readers throughout the world accepting him as their spokesman for humane values, a role which Klinkowitz considers within the context of his work.
Table of Contents
General Editors’ Preface. Preface and Acknowledgements. A Note on the Texts. 1. Vonnegut and the New Novel 2. The Formula Novel: Player Piano, The Sirens of Titan and Mother Night 3. From Formula Toward Experiment: Cat’s Cradle and God Bless You, Mr Rosewater 4. The Personal Novels: Slaughterhouse-Five, Breakfast of Champions, Slapstick and Jailbird 5. From Metaphor to Discourse. Notes. Bibliography.