Critical InsightsKurt Vonnegut
Outstanding, in-depth scholarship by renowned literary critics; great starting point for students seeking an introduction to Vonnegut and the critical discussions surrounding his work.
Critical acclaim eluded Kurt Vonnegut until Slaughterhouse-Five was published in 1969. An immediate best seller, it earned for the author respect from critics who had previously dismissed him as a mediocre science-fiction writer. Over the course of his career, Vonnegut was honored as the Briggs-Copeland Lecturer at Harvard University, as a member of the National Institute of Arts and Letters, and as the Distinguished Professor of English Prose at the City University of New York. Through his insightful and sympathetic treatment of the psychologically and morally crippled victims of the modern world, Vonnegut earned a reputation as one of the greatest humanist writers of his time.
Edited by Robert T. Tally Jr., an assistant professor of English at Texas State University and Vice President of The Kurt Vonnegut Society, this volume in the Critical Insights series presents a variety of new essays on the popular late-twentieth-century American novelist. For readers who are studying Vonnegut for the first time, a biographical sketch relates the details of his life and four essays survey the critical reception of his work, explore its cultural and historical contexts, situate Vonnegut among his contemporaries, and review key themes in his work. Readers seeking a deeper understanding of the writer can then move on to other original essays that explore a bevy of topics, such as major thematic trajectories in Vonnegut’s work, the significance of metafiction in Vonnegut’s works, Vonnegut’s relationship with conventional Christianity, and Vonnegut’s use of generic conventions. Works discussed include Slaughterhouse-Five, Breakfast of Champions, Hocus Pocus,Cat’s Cradle, and The Sirens of Titan. Among the contributors are Ádám T. Bogár, Charles J. Shields, Donald Morse, Peter Freese, Lara Narcisi, and Shiela Pardee.
Rounding out the volume are a chronology of Vonnegut’s life and a list of his principle publications as well as a bibliography for readers seeking to study this fascinating author in greater depth.