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

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

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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 ...


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... 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.

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