Kurt Vonnegut and the American Novel: A Postmodern Iconography

Author(s): Dr. Robert T. Tally, Jr.

Literary theory

The novels of Kurt Vonnegut depict a profoundly absurd and distinctly postmodern world. But in this critical study, Robert Tally argues that Vonnegut himself is actually a modernist, who is less interested in indulging in the free play of signifiers than in attempting to construct a model that could encompass the American experience at the end of the twentieth century. As a modernist wrestling with a postmodern condition, Vonnegut makes use of diverse and sometimes eccentric narrative techniques (such as metafiction, collage, and temporal slippages) to project a comprehensive vision of life in the United States. Vonnegut's novels thus become experiments in making sense of the radical transformations of self and society during that curious, unstable period called, perhaps ironically, the 'American Century.' An untimely figure, Vonnegut develops a postmodern iconography of American civilization while simultaneously acknowledging the impossibility of a truly comprehensive representation.


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A study of Kurt Vonnegut's novels, approaching them as literary experiments attempting to comprehend the American experience in the postmodern condition.

Robert T. Tally Jr. is Associate Professor of English at Texas State University, USA, where he teaches American and world literature.

Acknowledgements \ Preface \ 1. A Postmodern Iconography \ 2. Misanthropic Humanism: Player Piano and The Sirens of Titan \ 3. Anxiety and the Jargon of Authenticity: Mother Night \ 4. Dialectic of American Enlightenment: Cat's Cradle and God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater \ 5. Eternal Returns, or Tralfamadorian Ethics: Slaughterhouse-Five \ 6. Anti-Oedipus of the Heartland: Breakfast of Champions \ 7. Imaginary Communities, or the Ends of the Political: Slapstick and Jailbird \ 8. Abstract Idealism: Deadeye Dick and Bluebeard \ 9. Apocalypse in the Optative Mood: Galapagos \ 10. Twilight of the Icons: Hocus Pocus and Timequake \Bibliography \ Index

General Fields

  • : 9781472507006
  • : Bloomsbury Publishing PLC
  • : Bloomsbury Academic
  • : April 2013
  • : books

Special Fields

  • : Dr. Robert T. Tally, Jr.
  • : Paperback
  • : 208