Kurt Vonnegut Biography

1906 Words 8 Pages
Vonnegut as a Composite of His Experiences, Times, and Philosophies The efforts to simplify motivation into a form following as so a concrete description in writing is a task of both arduous effort and dubious reward. This is due to the fact that such an abstract thing as motivation is a conglomeration of factors rooted in the psyche and the experiences therein. Hence, when attempting to determine with relative certainty the reasons behind a writer 's motivations, it is necessary to gather all of the information possible. As such, when the writer is one as complex and possessing of a storied past such as Kurt Vonnegut, it becomes am imperative to determine all the factors that could have possibly affected him at every point of his career, …show more content…
Vonnegut 's first works were not an immediate success—“His novels, Player Piano and The Sirens of Titan (1959), languished in pulp obscurity” (Summer). Whether as a result of a mere lack of luck, inconsistent performance, or not catering to the interests of his time, Vonnegut struggled, supporting himself mainly selling short stories to periodicals and taking odd writing jobs. His subsequent novels did no better; God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater, Mother Night, and Harrison Bergeron were not successful commercially. However, he began to be given more notice with the release of Cat 's Cradle, perhaps due to its sentiment and attempt to give science a moral center making it popular both critically and on college campuses. That is purely speculation, however. The work to give Vonnegut significant notoriety and fame is, of course, Slaughterhouse-Five, or The Children 's Crusade: A Duty-Dance with Death. Its release in 1969 brought it to the forefront of the counter-culture, with him being praised for in all his writings, among other things, its “Elements of pathos, fantasy, didactism and dark humor” (“Kurt Vonnegut”). These factors led to it resonating with the counter-culture and made Vonnegut something of a symbol. The famous line “And so it goes...” or the permutation “So it goes...” is in and of itself a representation of the both comedic and …show more content…
Vonnegut was a humanist in the truest sense of the word—he believes “All people of every race, ethnicity, and sex need to live with a humanistic sense in them or society will be forced into specific guidelines that all people must follow” (Mr. B 2). His strong humanism seems to be in contrast to his critical, cynical tones often present in his writing, but, ironically, it exacerbates it. One can see this as a product of several factors, such as having lived through the Great Depression, his witnessing the atrocities of the Firebombing of Dresden, or simply a gentle disposition. The Great Depression took the prosperity his family had previously enjoyed, and he saw firsthand how everyone was suffering in the economy. Combined with his own experience, he found a prevalent ability to empathize. This would express itself later on when he wrote for a policy advocating pacifism in the Second World War while at Cornell. Combine this with having the experience of being one of the few survivors of the destruction of Dresden, and it is quite apparent how an individual such as Vonnegut would develop his humanist desires to see a better world. His work gave him that platform with a similarly minded counter-culture during his time. He advocated for socialism, for pacifism, and his relative distaste for American politics are all representative of

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