Slaughterhouse-Five; or The Children's Crusade. A Duty-Dance with Death

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Novel by Vonnegut, published in 1969.

In telegraphic style and brief impressionistic scenes out of chronological sequence the work tells of the life and death of Billy Pilgrim, once an optometrist in Ilium, N.Y., later a “spastic in time” because he has been chosen by the inhabitants of Tralfamadore, a planet millions of light-years away, to inhabit their zoo. As a result he is freed from time and place, living in present, past, and future, now on earth, now in a distant galaxy. In the U.S. he comes to be considered crazy by everybody except a few eccentrics like the philanthropist Eliot Rosewater (of Vonnegut's novel God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater) and the misanthropic science-fiction writer Kilgore Trout (also a figure in Vonnegut's other writings). In Germany, where he is held as a prisoner of war during World War II, he sees how mad most of humanity is. Forced to work in an underground slaughterhouse in Dresden, he becomes a witness of the terrible firebombing of the city that kills 135,000 people, the greatest single killing of human beings and a dreadful example of the tragic absurdity of mankind.

Subjects: Literature.

Reference entries

Kurt Vonnegut (1922—2007) American novelist and short-story writer

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