Cover image for Kurt Vonnegut : a critical companion
Kurt Vonnegut : a critical companion
Marvin, Thomas F.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
Westport, Conn. : Greenwood Press, 2002.
Physical Description:
ix, 167 pages ; 25 cm.
Reading Level:
1330 Lexile.
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
PS3572.O5 Z766 2002 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area
PS3572.O5 Z766 2002 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area

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With a career spanning 50 years, Kurt Vonnegut is one of the most prolific and popular American writers of the 20th century. Though his works have often met with mixed reviews, and have been difficult to categorize, his status of cultural icon and one of the most important contemporary novelists is well established. This critical companion, perfect for students, skillfully guides readers through seven of Vonnegut's most important novels including Player Piano (1952), Mother Night (1961), Cat's Cradle (1963), and Slaughterhouse Five (1969). A full chapter is devoted to each work, with clear analysis of plot, character development, thematic concerns, symbolism, and a close critical reading. A chapter on the life of Kurt Vonnegut gives an up-to-date biography, with interesting details relating the facts of his life to his writings. The Literary Contexts section, devoted to examining issues of genre, influences and themes in Vonnegut's writing, adds to a fuller understanding of the man and his literary works.

This exceptionally well-written Critical Companion will help students and interested readers appreciate Vonnegut's most important and popular novels. Close critical readings offer feminist, Marxist, and new historicist perspectives on these works. A bibliography helps students undertaking research identify additional sources for biographical and critical information, and provides reviews and a comprehensive list of Vonnegut's publications to date.

Author Notes

THOMAS F. MARVIN is Assistant Professor of English and American Studies at Indiana University Purdue University Indianapolis. He has published articles on African-American literature and music in both American Literature and African American Review .

Reviews 1

School Library Journal Review

Gr 10 Up-Although not exhaustive, this volume covers the author's major works and offers a wide range of critical discourse on them. The opening chapters provide biographical background. Marvin then examines Player Piano; The Sirens of Titan; Mother Night; Cat's Cradle; God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater; Slaughterhouse-Five; and Bluebeard. Each chapter begins with a brief introduction to the novel, followed by sections on plot development, character development, and thematic issues. The chapters on Player Piano and Cat's Cradle also discuss symbolism, and the one on Slaughterhouse-Five describes Vonnegut's narrative technique. Each chapter concludes with a "close critical reading" of the text. These sections are a strong point of the volume because different critical perspectives are explained and employed. For example, The Sirens of Titan is given a structuralist reading, Cat's Cradle receives an intertextual reading, and Slaughterhouse-Five is approached from a cultural poetics perspective. A clear, concise introduction to literary criticism.-Marilyn Heath, Belton-Honea Path High School, Honea Path, SC (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Table of Contents

Kathleen Gregory Klein
Series Forewordp. vii
1. The Life of Kurt Vonnegutp. 1
2. Literary Contextsp. 13
3. Player Piano (1952)p. 25
4. The Sirens of Titan (1959)p. 43
5. Mother Night (1961)p. 59
6. Cat's Cradle (1963)p. 77
7. God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater (1965)p. 97
8. Slaughterhouse-Five (1969)p. 113
9. Bluebeard (1987)p. 135
Bibliographyp. 157
Indexp. 163