A special fiftieth anniversary edition of Kurt Vonnegut’s masterpiece, “a desperate, painfully honest attempt to confront the monstrous crimes of the twentieth century” (Time), featuring a new introduction by Kevin Powers, author of the National Book Award finalist The Yellow Birds Selected by the Modern Library as one of the 100 best novels of all time Slaughterhouse-Five, an American classic, is one of the world’s great antiwar books. Centering on the infamous World War II firebombing of Dresden, the novel is the result of what Kurt Vonnegut described as a twenty-three-year struggle to write a book about what he had witnessed as an American prisoner of war. It combines historical fiction, science fiction, autobiography, and satire in an account of the life of Billy Pilgrim, a barber’s son turned draftee turned optometrist turned alien abductee. As Vonnegut had, Billy experiences the destruction of Dresden as a POW. Unlike Vonnegut, he experiences time travel, or coming “unstuck in time.” An instant bestseller, Slaughterhouse-Five made Kurt Vonnegut a cult hero in American literature, a reputation that only strengthened over time, despite his being banned and censored by some libraries and schools for content and language. But it was precisely those elements of Vonnegut’s writing—the political edginess, the genre-bending inventiveness, the frank violence, the transgressive wit—that have inspired generations of readers not just to look differently at the world around them but to find the confidence to say something about it. Authors as wide-ranging as Norman Mailer, John Irving, Michael Crichton, Tim O’Brien, Margaret Atwood, Elizabeth Strout, David Sedaris, Jennifer Egan, and J. K. Rowling have all found inspiration in Vonnegut’s words. Jonathan Safran Foer has described Vonnegut as “the kind of writer who made people—young people especially—want to write.” George Saunders has declared Vonnegut to be “the great, urgent, passionate American writer of our century, who offers us . . . a model of the kind of compassionate thinking that might yet save us from ourselves.” Fifty years after its initial publication at the height of the Vietnam War, Vonnegut's portrayal of political disillusionment, PTSD, and postwar anxiety feels as relevant, darkly humorous, and profoundly affecting as ever, an enduring beacon through our own era’s uncertainties. “Poignant and hilarious, threaded with compassion and, behind everything, the cataract of a thundering moral statement.”—The Boston Globe
Adapted for a magnificent George Roy Hill film three years later (perhaps the only film adaptation of a masterpiece which exceeds its source), Slaughterhouse-Five (1969) is the now famous parable of Billy Pilgrim, a World War II veteran and POW, who has in the later stage of his life become “unstuck in time” and who experiences at will (or unwillingly) all known events of his chronology out of order and sometimes simultaneously. Traumatized by the bombing of Dresden at the time he had been imprisoned, Pilgrim drifts through all events and history, sometimes deeply implicated, sometimes a witness. He is surrounded by Vonnegut’s usual large cast of continuing characters (notably here the hack science fiction writer Kilgore Trout and the alien Tralmafadorians who oversee his life and remind him constantly that there is no causation, no order, no motive to existence). The “unstuck” nature of Pilgrim’s experience may constitute an early novelistic use of what we now call Post Traumatic Stress Disorder; then again, Pilgrim’s aliens may be as “real” as Dresden is real to him. Struggling to find some purpose, order or meaning to his existence and humanity’s, Pilgrim meets the beauteous and mysterious Montana Wildhack (certainly the author’s best character name), has a child with her and drifts on some supernal plane, finally, in which Kilgore Trout, the Tralmafadorians, Montana Wildhack and the ruins of Dresden do not merge but rather disperse through all planes of existence. Slaughterhouse-Fivewas hugely successful, brought Vonnegut an enormous audience, was a finalist for the National Book Award and a bestseller and remains four decades later as timeless and shattering a war fiction as Catch-22, with which it stands as the two signal novels of their riotous and furious decade.
'The great, urgent, passionate American writer of our century, who offers us a model of the kind of compassionate thinking that might yet save us from ourselves.' George Saunders Prisoner of war, optometrist, time-traveller - these are the life roles of Billy Pilgrim, hero of this miraculously moving, bitter and funny story of innocence faced with apocalypse. Slaughterhouse Five is one of the world's great anti-war books. Centring on the infamous fire-bombing of Dresden in the Second World War, Billy Pilgrim's odyssey through time reflects the journey of our own fractured lives as we search for meaning in what we are afraid to know. 'An extraordinary success. A book to read and reread. He is a true artist' New York Times Book Review
A Study Guide for Kurt Vonnegut's "Slaughterhouse Five," excerpted from Gale's acclaimed Novels for Students.This concise study guide includes plot summary; character analysis; author biography; study questions; historical context; suggestions for further reading; and much more. For any literature project, trust Novels for Students for all of your research needs.
Seminar paper from the year 2003 in the subject American Studies - Literature, grade: 2,3 (B), University of Stuttgart (American Studies), course: Postmodern Fiction, 13 entries in the bibliography, language: English, abstract: Constructing Slaughterhouse-Five is a close reading of Kurt Vonnegut's Slaughterhouse-Five. It puts a special focus on the aspects of time and temporal structure in relation to the novel form and its narrative structure in relation to the protagonist Billy Pilgrim's personal trauma, his war experience and his time travelling in relation to the alternative model of time of the Tralfamadorians. Thus, it concentrates on the postmodernist criticism of an uncritical believe in linear time, teleology and progression as also represented in the form of linear narratives.
Release on 2014-01-29 | by Jasmin Wolfram,Mareike Hachemer
A Depiction of the Protagonists
Author: Jasmin Wolfram,Mareike Hachemer
Pubpsher: GRIN Verlag
Category: Literary Criticism
Seminar paper from the year 2014 in the subject English Language and Literature Studies - Literature, grade: 1,0, Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (Department of English and Linguistics), course: Slaughterhouse Five, language: English, abstract: The novel “Slaughterhouse-Five“, written by Kurt Vonnegut in 1969, is about Billy Pilgrim, a man, who has “become unstuck in time”, which means that he travels through different periods of his life. The novel starts with an autobiographical part, which is about Kurt Vonnegut’s life after the Second World War. In the following parts Vonnegut writes about Billy Pilgrim. The reader learns that as a young adult Billy Pilgrim is a soldier in the Second World War just like Kurt Vonnegut was. He survives this war with the help of other soldiers and later on he settles as a bourgeois civilian with his wife Valencia Merble and his two children. Kurt Vonnegut tells the reader that in the time of the Second World War Billy Pilgrim has come unstuck in time, and has been kidnapped by aliens from a planet called Tralfamadore. The reader gets to know Billy Pilgrim's life story as well as his personality. As a round character Billy is shown in different situations with all his emotions and thoughts. Vonnegut describes traumatic events in Billy’s childhood and also emotionally important events in his grown-up life, like his 18th wedding anniversary. After the awful situations Billy witnessed in the Second World War, for instance the Dresden bombing, and an airplane crash he survives, Billy says he was kidnapped by a flying saucer. This could be a sign of Billy Pilgrim suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) which will be examined in the following text. Although the novel contains sad and cruel topics, the tone of the novel is generally sarcastic and unemotional. Billy Pilgrim's life and the literary style of “Slaughterhouse-Five“ inevitably lead to the question: In How Far Does Kurt Vonnegut's Depiction of the Protagonists in “Slaughterhouse-Five” Contribute to the Novel Being an Anti-War Novel? Since Vonnegut's publishers call Slaughterhouse-Five “one of the world's great anti-war books” and Vonnegut himself promised his friend Mary O'Hare to write an anti-war novel, these statements will be examined in this essay.
REA's MAXnotes for Kurt Vonnegut Jr.'s Slaughterhouse-Five MAXnotes offer a fresh look at masterpieces of literature, presented in a lively and interesting fashion. Written by literary experts who currently teach the subject, MAXnotes will enhance your understanding and enjoyment of the work. MAXnotes are designed to stimulate independent thought about the literary work by raising various issues and thought-provoking ideas and questions. MAXnotes cover the essentials of what one should know about each work, including an overall summary, character lists, an explanation and discussion of the plot, the work's historical context, illustrations to convey the mood of the work, and a biography of the author. Each section of the work is individually summarized and analyzed, and has study questions and answers.
Release on 2008 | by Ervin E. Szpek, Jr.,Frank J. Idzikowski
Reflections and Recollections of the American Ex-POWs of Schlachthof Fünf, Dresden, Germany
Author: Ervin E. Szpek, Jr.,Frank J. Idzikowski
Category: Biography & Autobiography
Shadows of Slaughterhouse Five chronicles the story of 150 American POWs captured in the Battle of the Bulge and eventually caught up in one of the greatest tragedies of World War II---the firebombing of Dresden. This collection includes oral histories, previously unpublished memoirs, and letters from home and from the front that together tell their compelling story in their own words. From simple hometown beginnings through the awakenings of military life in basic training, from assignment on the supposed "quiet zone" in Belgium to the unexpected Battle of the Bulge, from forced march and entrainment to eventual assignment on work details in Dresden --- the "Florence of the Elbe," to the inferno of Dresden on February 13-14, 1945, and the gruesome work details to follow, the individual and collective recollections and reflections of these 150 young men, the men housed in the famed Slaughterhouse Five, reveal a very personal side of war and the struggle for survival. Yet repatriation did not bring closure to this chapter of their young lives for like shadows their memories would forever be part of them. Today more than sixty years after the firebombing of Dresden, the statue of a steer wishing health and happiness to the citizens of Dresden still stands at the entrance to the public slaughterhouse, a silent witness to the maelstrom that descended upon Dresden and this group of 150 American POWs housed within, Now after more than 60 years of silence for most of these men, Kurt Vonnegut's fellow POWs tell their story of Slaughterhouse Five, in their words as they saw it --- dog face young soldiers assured that the war was soon to be over!