An Observation from Kurt Vonnegut

From the postumous collection of Kurt Vonnegut’s miscellaneous writing, Armageddon In Retrospect:

Vonnegut Over one hundred thousand non-combatants and a magnificent city destroyed by bombs dropped wide of the stated objectives: the railroads were knocked out for roughly two days. The Germans counted it the greatest loss of life suffered in any single raid. The death of Dresden was a bitter tragedy, needlessly and willfully executed. The killing of children—”Jerry” children or “Jap” children, or whatever enemies the future may hold for us—can never be justified.

The facile reply to great groans such as mine is the most hateful of all clichés, “fortunes of war,” and another, “They asked for it. All they understand is force.” Who asked for it? The only thing who understands is force? Believe me, it is not easy to rationalize the stamping out of vineyards where the grapes of wrath are stored when gathering up babies in bushel baskets or helping a man dig where he thinks his wife may be buried. Certainly enemy military and industrial installations should have been blown flat, and woe unto those foolish enough to seek shelter near them. But the “Get Tough America” poliy, the spirit of revenge, the approbation of all destruction and killing, has earned us a name for obscene brutality, and cost the World the possibility of Germany’s becoming a peaceful and intellectually fruitful nation in anything but the most remote future.

It sounds to me like Vonnegut’s observations are still valid seventy years later. Read or reread Slaughterhouse Five for Vonnegut’s extended fictional account of this sordid moment of history.

I plan to review Vonnegut’s complete bibliography and pick up some of those novels and such I may have missed … and possibly reread of couple at the same time. For convenience, here are Vonnegut’s major works from Wikipedia:

Novels

Player Piano August 1952 Published as Utopia 14 in 1954, published again as Player Piano in 1966
The Sirens of Titan October 31, 1959 Hugo Award-nominated
Mother Night 1961 Adapted as a film in 1996
Cat’s Cradle April 1963
God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater, or Pearls Before Swine January 1965 Later adapted with book and lyrics by Howard Ashman and music by Alan Menken; additional lyrics by Dennis Green
Slaughterhouse-Five, or The Children’s Crusade: A Duty-Dance with Death March 1969 Nominated for Nebula and Hugo Awards, adapted as a film in 1972
Breakfast of Champions, or Goodbye Blue Monday July 1973 Adapted as a film in 1999
Slapstick, or Lonesome No More! October 1976 Adapted as a film in 1984
Jailbird September 1979
Deadeye Dick October 1982
Galápagos: A Novel October 1985
Bluebeard, the Autobiography of Rabo Karabekian (1916–1988) October 1987
Hocus Pocus September 1990
Timequake September 22, 1997

Collections

Canary in a Cathouse September 1961 Short stories
Welcome to the Monkey House August 1968 Short stories; contains all but one story from Canary in a Cathouse
Wampeters, Foma and Granfalloons (Opinions) 1974 Essays and assorted works
Palm Sunday: An Autobiographical Collage 1981 Short stories, essays, and assorted works
Nothing Is Lost Save Honor: Two Essays December 1984 Limited edition of two essays
Fates Worse Than Death: An Autobiographical Collage September 5, 1991 Essays and assorted works
Bagombo Snuff Box: Uncollected Short Fiction August 1999 Short stories
God Bless You, Dr. Kevorkian October 1999 Fictional interviews originally presented as radio monologues
A Man Without a Country September 15, 2005 Essays
Armageddon in Retrospect and Other New and Unpublished Writings on War and Peace April 1, 2008 Short stories and essays
Look at the Birdie: Unpublished Short Fiction October 20, 2009 Short stories
While Mortals Sleep: Unpublished Short Fiction January 25, 2011 Short stories
Kurt Vonnegut: The Cornell Sun Years 1941–1943 April 23, 2012 Collection of his writings as editor of his college newspaper. Available as Amazon eBook
We Are What We Pretend to Be: The First and Last Works October 9, 2012
Sucker’s Portfolio: A Collection of Previously Unpublished Writing March 12, 2013 A collection of previously unpublished works.
If This Isn’t Nice, What Is?: Advice to the Young April 30, 2013 Commencement speeches

Plays

Penelope 1960 Later revised as Happy Birthday, Wanda June and reprinted in 1970. Adapted as a film in 1971
The Very First Christmas Morning December 14, 1962 Published in Better Homes and Gardens
Fortitude September 1968 One act, published in Playboy; collected in Human-Machines: An Anthology of Stories About Cyborgs, New York: Vintage, 1975. Adapted in episode five of the television series Kurt Vonnegut’s Monkey House
Requiem 1987 With music by Edgar David Grana
Make Up Your Mind 1993
Miss Temptation 1993 Adapted by David Cooperman
L’Histoire du Soldat 1993 A reworked libretto that Vonnegut made into a tale about World War II Private Eddie Slovik, the first soldier in the United States military to be executed for desertion since the Civil War.

 

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