Friday, December 9, 2011

Kurt Vonnegut, Reactionary Radical

Bill Kauffman is reading a biography of the novelist that argues "there is much about tradition and free enterprise that is admirable to Vonnegut" — Vonnegut Laid(?) to Rest. The biographer writes:
    He was proud to be descended from enterprising and civic-minded German American merchants and professionals. In addition to their workaday responsibilities, three generations of Vonneguts had served on boards and committees whose overlapping purpose was strengthening the network of business, social, and intellectual ties serving Indianapolis. He regretted the diaspora of his family from the city after World War II, convinced that families with generational roots in a region were emotionally invested in where they lived. Within their own families, relatives in close proximity also filled the important function of caring for their members—not only taking in the old or dispossessed, but also helping children grow into healthy adults under the watchful eyes of elders
Noting that the novelist's "criticism of the status quo... created the impression that he must be a leftist," the biorapher continues:
    The country was so polarized politically that anyone who disparaged the war or the government sounded like he was on the side of hippies and antiwar protesters. In fact, Vonnegut was less a radical than a reactionary. He yearned for an old-fashioned America populated by Eliot Rosewaters and Uncle Alexes, for extended families, for a nation reluctant to go to war, for decency, and yes—even for businesses like General Electric at its enlightened best. But only a close reading of his works would reveal that.
Tolle, lege. The Sage of Batavia's thoughts on the writer are a must-read for any one-time fan.

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1 Comments:

Blogger Pints in NYC said...

So it goes . . .

December 13, 2011 at 11:28 PM  

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