preview

The Thought-experiments in Kurt Vonnegut's Slaughterhouse Five or the Children's Crusade: A Duty Da

Powerful Essays
The Thought-experiments in Kurt Vonnegut's Slaughterhouse Five or the Children's Crusade: A Duty Dance With Death

In 1945 Kurt Vonnegut witnessed a horrific series of bombings that led to the destruction of the German city of Dresden, where he was taken as a prisoner of war. The controversial fire-storm raid, carried out by bombers of the Royal Air Force and US Air Force, took casualties of up to a quarter million people (Klinkowitz x-xi). As a prisoner of war, Vonnegut was forced to participate as a corpse miner in the city's cleanup process. Upon his return from the Second World War, Vonnegut decided to write a book describing his traumatic war experiences. After twenty years of struggling with research, failing to recall personal experiences, and publishing two novels and countless short stories, Kurt Vonnegut finally published-as what he frequently refers to as-the "book about Dresden." It was titled Slaughterhouse Five or the Children's Crusade: A Duty Dance With Death, or more simply: Slaughterhouse Five. The result of twenty years of work is a biography that has been bizarrely fictionalized by Vonnegut's incorporation of anecdotes about alien abduction and time travel.

Prior to the publication of Slaughterhouse Five, Kurt Vonnegut invented the terminology "Chrono-Synclastic Infundibulum," defined as a phenomenon in the universe where matter scatters through space and time, resulting in their simultaneous existence in multiple places and times. Consequently multiple notions-often contradicting each other-can exist and consume the same space. While this strange yet imaginative "space" was conceived in a previous novel, The Sirens of Titan, Vonnegut crafted the structure and progression of Slaughterhouse Five with ...

... middle of paper ...

... Ed. Harold Bloom.

Jones, Peter G. "The End of the Road: Slaughterhouse-Five, or The Children's Crusade" Modern Critical Interpretations Slaughterhouse-Five Ed. Harold Bloom.

Klinkowitz, Jerome. Slaughterhouse-Give Reforming the Novel and the World. Boston: Twayne Publishers, 1990.

Lundquist, James. Kurt Vonnegut. New York: Frederick Ungar Publishing Co., 1977.

Marvin, Thomas F. Kurt Vonnegut A Critical Companion. Westport: Greenwood Press, 2002.

Sholes, Robert. "Slaughterhouse-Five." New York Times Book Review 6 April 1969, 1, 23.

Vonnegut, Kurt Jr. Slaughterhouse-Five. New York: Delacorte Press, 1994.

Vonnegut, Kurt Jr. The Sirens of Titan. New York: Dell, 1974.

1[1] For a technical treatment, please refer to http://www2.slac.stanford.edu/vvc/theory/relativity.html, under the section discussing relativistic properties of the speed of light.
Get Access