Critical Insights: Kurt 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.
1.Career, Life, and Influence
For readers who are studying Vonnegut for the first time, a biographical sketch relates the details of his life. This section discusses Vonnegut's career and certain themes of his writings in fairly broad terms, along with a biography about the man behind the literature. The rest of the text examines the writings of Vonnegut's and their growing legacy.
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. These essays aim to provide a background to the author that is a historical, cultural, and biographical foundation for the reader.
Readers seeking a deeper understanding of the writer can then move on to other original essays that explore a number of schools of thought. These essays utilize common critical approaches to further analyze the author's work, or specific works according to the selected theme. Each essay is 2,500 to 5,000 words in length, and all essays conclude with a list of "Works Cited," along with endnotes.
The volume's appendices offer a section of useful reference resources, including:
- A chronology of the author's life
- A complete list of the author's works and their original dates of publication
- A general bibliography
- A detailed paragraph on the volume's editor
- Notes on the individual chapter authors
- A subject index