Vonnegut

October 14, 2009 at 5:14 pm (English Classes)

Kurt Vonnegut was born to fifth-generation German-American parents (Kurt Vonnegut, Sr., and Edith née Lieber), son and grandson in the Indianapolis firm Vonnegut & Bohn. He attended Cornell University, where he served as assistant managing editor and associate editor for the student newspaper, the Cornell Daily Sun, and majored in chemistry. While attending Cornell, he was a member of the Delta Upsilon Fraternity, following in the footsteps of his father. While at Cornell, Vonnegut enlisted in the U.S. Army. The army sent him to the Carnegie Institute of Technology and the University of Tennessee to study mechanical engineering. On May 14, 1944, Mothers’ Day, his mother committed suicide.After the war, Vonnegut attended the University of Chicago as a graduate student in anthropology and also worked at the City News Bureau of Chicago. Vonnegut admitted that he was a poor anthropology student, with one professor remarking that some of the students were going to be professional anthropologists and he was not one of them.[citation needed] According to Vonnegut in Bagombo Snuff Box, the university rejected his first thesis on the necessity of accounting for the similarities between Cubist painters and the leaders of late 19th Century Native American uprisings, saying it was “unprofessional.” He left Chicago to work in Schenectady, New York, in public relations for General Electric, where his brother Bernard worked in the research department. The University of Chicago later accepted his novel Cat’s Cradle as his thesis, citing its anthropological content, and awarded him the M.A. degree in 1971.[12][13]

In the mid 1950s, Vonnegut worked very briefly for Sports Illustrated magazine, where he was assigned to write a piece on a racehorse that had jumped a fence and attempted to run away. After staring at the blank piece of paper on his typewriter all morning, he typed, “The horse jumped over the fucking fence,” and left.[14] On the verge of abandoning writing, Vonnegut was offered a teaching job at the University of Iowa Writers’ Workshop. While he was there, Cat’s Cradle became a best-seller, and he began Slaughterhouse-Five, now considered one of the best American novels of the 20th Century, appearing on the 100 best lists of Time magazine[15] and the Modern Library.[16]

Early in his adult life he moved to Barnstable, Massachusetts, a town on Cape Cod,[17] where he managed the first SAAB dealership established in the U.S.[18]

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