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Brandeis University's Community Newspaper — Waltham, Mass.

Vonnegut’s death end of an era

Published: April 13, 2007
Section: Arts, Etc.

Many college students have been inspired by the strange, whimsical novels of the renowned American author Kurt Vonnegut, who just this week passed away at the age of 84. His loss is a significant one, as he was considered by many the spokesmen of a disillusioned generation that yearned for both off-kilter science fiction and political satire.

Vonnegut was a perfect example of a disenchanted third generation American, born in the heart of the Midwest, in Indianapolis, Indiana. As a soldier in the Second World War, Vonnegut saw the horrors of battle, a theme often referenced in his works. Slaughterhouse Five is the best and most well known example of at least half a dozen works that referenced the horrors of war, as Vonnegut brought the shameful act of the bombing of Dresden to the forefront. Slaughterhouse Five combined science fiction, history, analysis of the human condition and political commentary into one magnificent work.

Vonnegut included many of these same motifs in many of his other well known novels, with Cat's Cradle, God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater, Welcome to the Monkey House, Jailbird and Breakfast of Champions. He also wrote several plays, while many of his short stories were adapted for both television and the theater.

An ardent humanist and socialist, Vonnegut often spoke directly to the reader in his works, and even created his own kind of alter-ego, the science fiction writer, Kilgore Trout. He often drew simple pictures for his works, which ranged from downright confusing to strangely comical.

With his trademark bushy hair and thick mustache, Vonnegut was one of those recognizable faces that always elicited a laugh. He will be sorely missed by the many that he has inspired over the last several decades.