Log In

Kurt Vonnegut

satirist , writer

Kurt Vonnegut Jr. was an extremely popular American writer of humor, science fiction novels and short stories. His novels are known for their dark humor and playful use of science fiction, as well as for their serious moral vision and cutting social commentary. Kurt Vonnegut was one of the most influential American writers and novelists of the 20th century.

Background

Ethnicity: Kurt Vonnegut, Jr. was born to third-generation German-American parents

The American writer and graphic artist Kurt Vonnegut Jr. was born on November 11, 1922, in Indianapolis, Indiana, USA. He was the youngest of three children. His father, Kurt Sr., was an architect. His mother, Edith, came from a wealthy family of a brewer. During the Depression, the elder Vonnegut was often out of work, and Mrs. Vonnegut suffered from episodes of mental illness. In 1944, on Mother's Day she committed suicide.

Education

During the Depression when Kurt Sr. saw his architectural business disappear, he had to sell the family home and take young Kurt out of private school (the Orchard School) where, in kindergarten, Kurt had met Jane Cox, who eventually became his wife. At Shortridge High School, Vonnegut wrote for the Shortridge Daily Echo. The rigor of writing daily to deadlines helped shape his habits as a writer.

In 1940 Vonnegut started to study biochemistry at Cornell University and at the same time began to write for the newspaper Cornell Daily Sun. In 1943, he voluntarily joined the U.S. Army and participated in World War II.The Army initially sent him to the Carnegie Institute of Technology (now Carnegie Mellon University) in Pittsburgh and the University of Tennessee to study mechanical engineering.On December 22, 1944 Vonnegut, who was a battalion scout of the 106th Infantry Division, was captured during the Battle of the Bulge. On May 22, 1945 he was liberated by the Soviet army and returned to the U.S. After discharge from the Army, Vonnegut undertook graduate studies in anthropology at the University of Chicago. While a student, he worked as a police reporter for the Chicago City News Bureau. Vonnegut left Chicago without a degree, although in 1971 his novel Cat’s Cradle (1963) was accepted in lieu of a thesis, and he was awarded a M.A.

Career

In the early 1950s Vonnegut began publishing short stories. Many of them were concerned with technology and the future, which led some critics to classify Vonnegut as a science fiction writer, though he resisted the label.Showing Vonnegut's talent for satire, his first novel, Player Piano, took on corporate culture and was published in 1952. More novels followed, including The Sirens of Titan (1959), Mother Night (1961), and Cat's Cradle (1963). In 1967 Vonnegut received a Guggenheim fellowship that allowed him to arrive in Dresden (Germany) to collect material for his novel Slaughterhouse Five (1969). The novel tells about the bombing of Dresden by aviation allied troops in 1945, surviving witness of which was the writer, who was in captivity. The film based on the novel, made by an American director George Roy Hill, was released in 1972 and received an award at the Cannes Film Festival.

As a graphic artist Kurt Vonnegut debuted during the writing of the novel Breakfast of Champions (1973). These were felt-tip pen drawings, which illustrated the novel with an unusual addition to the meaning of the text. Later Vonnegut created illustrations for his works, depicting in them the images of traditional American culture as well as his own. Since 1993 the writer cooperated with the artist Joe Petro III in creating graphic works. The exhibitions of Vonnegut’s works were held in his lifetime across the US.

Works

  • collection (1961)

    • Canary in a Cat House

  • collection (1968)

    • Welcome to the Monkey House

  • collection (1999)

    • Bagombo Snuff Box

  • essay (1964)

    • Where I Live

  • essay (1968)

    • Yes, We Have No Nirvanas

  • essay (1970)

    • The Mysterious Madame Blavatsky

  • essay (1984)

    • Gates Worse Than Death

  • essay (1991)

    • Fates Worse Than Death

  • essay (1999)

    • Introduction (Bagombo Snuff Box)

  • film adaptation (1971)

    • Happy Birthday, Wanda June

  • film adaptation (1972)

    • Slaughterhouse Five

  • film adaptation (1974)

    • Rex Harrison Presents Stories of Love

  • film adaptation (1982)

    • Slapstick (Of Another Kind)

  • film adaptation (1996)

    • Mother Night

  • film adaptation (1999)

    • Breakfast of Champions

  • film adaptation (2009)

    • 2081

  • film adaptation (2013)

    • Cat's Cradle

  • Novel (1952)

    • Player Piano (Utopia 14)

  • Novel (1959)

    • The Sirens of Titan

  • novel (1962)

    • Mother Night

  • Novel (1963)

    • Cat's Cradle

  • novel (1965)

    • God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater or Pearls Before Swine

  • novel (1969)

    • Slaughterhouse Five or The Children's Crusade: A Duty-Dance with Death

  • novel (1973)

    • Breakfast of Champions or Goodbye Blue Monday

  • novel (1976)

    • Slapstick or Lonesome No More!

  • Novel (1979)

    • Jailbird

  • novel (1982)

    • Dead-Eye Dick

  • novel (1985)

    • Galapagos

  • novel (1987)

    • Bluebeard

  • novel (1990)

    • Hocus Pocus or What's the Hurry, Son?

  • novel (1997)

    • Timequake

  • play (1962)

    • The Very First Christmas Morning

  • play (1970)

    • Happy Birthday, Wanda June (Penelope)

  • play (1987)

    • Requiem

  • play (1993)

    • Make Up Your Mind

    • Miss Temptation

  • screenplay (1968)

    • Fortitude

  • screenplay (1972)

    • Between Time and Timbuktu Or Prometheus 5

  • tale (1950)

    • EPICAC

    • The Report on the Barnhouse Effect

  • tale (1951)

    • The Euphio Question

  • tale (1953)

    • Unready to Wear

  • tale (1954)

    • The Powder-Blue Dragon

  • tale (1955)

    • Deer in the Works

    • The Kid Nobody Could Handle

  • tale (1956)

    • Miss Temptation

  • tale (1960)

    • Long Walk to Forever

  • tale (1961)

    • Who Am I This Time?

  • tale (1962)

    • The Lie

  • tale (1972)

    • The Big Space Fuck

  • tale (1999)

    • The Package

Religion

"How on earth can religious people believe in so much arbitrary, clearly invented balderdash?....The acceptance of a creed, any creed, entitles the acceptor to membership in the sort of artificial extended family we call a congregation. It is a way to fight loneliness. Any time I see a person fleeing from reason and into religion, I think to myself, There goes a person who simply cannot stand being so goddamned lonely anymore." – Kurt Vonnegut

Politics

"The two real political parties in America are the Winners and the Losers. The people don't acknowledge this. They claim membership in two imaginary parties, the Republicans and the Democrats, instead." – Kurt Vonnegut

Views

"There's only one rule that I know of, babies – God damn it, you've got to be kind" – Kurt Vonnegut

Quotations: "Only a person of deep faith can afford the luxury of skepticism" – Friedrich Nietzsche

Membership

  • American Academy of Arts and Sciences

  • American Humanist Association

  • Delta Upsilon Fraternity

    Delta Upsilon Fraternity

  • International Academy of Humanism

  • International Poets, Playwrights, Editors, Essayists and Novelists (international association)

Interests

  • Writers

    Gustave Flaubert, Mary Shelley, Ray Bradbury

  • Artists

    Nancy Davis

  • Other Interests

    music, drawing, writing, smoking "Pall Mall"

Connections

Kurt Vonnegut was married twice. From 1945 to 1971 – to his classmate Jane Marie Cox, the marriage ended in divorce. In 1979 he married Jill Krementz, a writer and a photographer. Vonnegut has three children with his first wife. The children are named Mark, Edith and Nanette. With his second wife he has a daughter, Lily.After the death of his sister Alice, who died from cancer, and her husband's death in a train accident, Kurt Vonnegut adopted their three children.

father:
Kurt Vonnegut, Sr - United States - Architect

mother:
Edith Sophia Lieber - United States

Brother:
Bernard Vonnegut - United States - chemist , meteorologist
Bernard Vonnegut - Brother of Kurt Vonnegut

sister:
Alice Vonnegut Adams - United States

wife:
Jane Marie Cox - United States
Jane Marie Cox - wife of Kurt Vonnegut

son:
Mark Vonnegut - United States - Pediatrician , memoirist
Mark Vonnegut - son of Kurt Vonnegut

Vonnegut with his son Mark

daughter:
Nanette Vonnegut (Nanny) - United States - painter
Nanette Vonnegut (Nanny) - daughter of Kurt Vonnegut

DOG:
Pumpkin
Pumpkin - DOG of Kurt Vonnegut

Daugther:
Edith Vonnegut (Edie) - United States - painter
Edith Vonnegut (Edie) - Daugther of Kurt Vonnegut

Children:
Mark, Edie, and Nanny
Mark, Edie, and Nanny - Children of Kurt Vonnegut

Kurt and Jane Vonnegut and their three children, Mark, Edie, and Nanny in Barnstable, Massachusetts

2-d Wife:
Jill Krementz - United States - photograper
Jill Krementz - 2-d Wife of Kurt Vonnegut

Adopted daugter:
Lily Vonnegut - United States - actrees
Lily Vonnegut - Adopted daugter of Kurt Vonnegut

friends:
High School
High School - friends of Kurt Vonnegut

Vonnegut with high school friends, ca. 1940