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Slaughterhouse-five by Kurt Vonnegut
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Slaughterhouse-five (original 1969; edition 1994)

by Kurt Vonnegut

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31,54346625 (4.12)1 / 786
Member:clsnyder
Title:Slaughterhouse-five
Authors:Kurt Vonnegut
Info:New York, N.Y.: Delacorte Press/Seymour Lawrence, 1994.
Collections:Your library
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Work details

Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut (1969)

  1. 352
    Catch-22 by Joseph Heller (kiwiflowa, Anonymous user)
  2. 190
    Cat's Cradle by Kurt Vonnegut (seojen)
  3. 111
    Mother Night by Kurt Vonnegut (weener)
  4. 114
    The Book Thief by Markus Zusak (weener)
  5. 50
    Breakfast of Champions by Kurt Vonnegut (esswedl)
    esswedl: Both of these Vonnegut novels involve the question of free will (and both are great).
  6. 41
    Johnny Got His Gun by Dalton Trumbo (waitingtoderail)
  7. 20
    Crash Gordon and the Mysteries of Kingsburg by Derek Swannson (jasbro)
  8. 31
    Life After Life by Kate Atkinson (JenMDB)
  9. 43
    The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle by Haruki Murakami (andomck)
    andomck: Both books, besides having science fiction/magical realism elements, discuss bloody episodes of WWII from the point of view of everyday people.
  10. 10
    Tertium Organum by P. D. Ouspensky (sombrio)
  11. 21
    Armageddon in Retrospect by Kurt Vonnegut (Ronoc)
  12. 21
    Kurt Vonnegut's crusade; or, How a postmodern harlequin preached a new kind of humanism by Todd F. Davis (pyrocow)
  13. 00
    Candide by Voltaire (SCPeterson)
    SCPeterson: Vonnegut is the Voltaire of our age of un-enlightenment.
  14. 00
    1968 by Joe Haldeman (snat)
  15. 11
    The Book of Jonas by Stephen Dau (PghDragonMan)
    PghDragonMan: War is not glorious and even survivors are not unscathed.
  16. 03
    The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald (chwiggy)
  17. 25
    Einstein's Dreams by Alan Lightman (ateolf)
1960s (27)
Read (36)
Unread books (1,031)
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English (443)  Italian (5)  French (4)  German (3)  Spanish (3)  Swedish (2)  Dutch (2)  Hebrew (1)  Czech (1)  Hungarian (1)  Catalan (1)  All languages (466)
Showing 1-5 of 443 (next | show all)
A very strange book.
Hopping in time, in place (space). Not sure I understand what the writer wants to tell with this book, so I won't conment on it other than that it is strange.

I'm glad to be able to cross it off my 1001-list. Available for a new reader. ( )
  BoekenTrol71 | Aug 27, 2016 |
CAUTION: MAY CONTAIN SPOILERS

The narrator opens with an elaborate hyperbole of a subtitle for the book, explaining that he is a veteran living in easy circumstances, who witnessed the bombing of Dresden, Germany as a prisoner of war and survived to tell the tale in the manner of the planet of Tralfamadore where the flying saucers come from. He went back to Dresden with a war buddy years later. He ends the first chapter saying that his war novel, his novel of looking back is over, since there is nothing intelligent one can say about a massacre.

He then tells the story of Billy Pilgrim, who is unstuck in time-- he uncontrollably gets flung around the scenes of his life. He was a prisoner of war, became an optometrist, and married a rich girl who died of carbon monoxide poisoning. He was the only survivor of a plane crash. He was abducted and kept in a zoo on the planet Tralfamadore, where he was mated with movie star Montana Wildhack.

With every mention of death in the book, the narrator says, "So it goes," Tralfamadorians believe that time exists all at once and not moment-by-moment like beads on a string. So a person is never dead, because he is still alive in the past. Billy's daughter Barbara is furious at him for trying to tell people his crazy notions.

He wandered behind enemy lines with a fat, sadistic soldier named Roland Weary and two scouts, who ditched them. Weary got so mad at Billy for this that he beat him and when they were captured by German soldiers, he convinced many others that it was Billy's fault when he died. Pre-capture, Billy also traveled to, among other places, his mother's nursing home, where she asks him weakly how she got old, and to the YMCA where his father taught him to swim by throwing him into the deep end. He also goes back to the night of his abduction.

Everyone at the prison camp was shocked to see how weak the Americans were. Billy was delirious, and he flipped out and was hospitalized. Edgar Derby, an older soldier who would be shot for plundering a teapot, stayed with him. Paul Lazzaro, a weak, hateful man, told Billy he had sworn to avenge Roland Weary by shooting him. Billy was not worried; he had seen when he would die. He traveled in time to his second hospitalization during his last year of optometry school. There he met Eliot Rosewater, who introduced him to the science fiction works of Kilgore Trout.

While there, Billy traveled back to Tralfamadore. When he told the crowd at the zoo to fear the power of Earthlings, they thought he was stupid; they knew it would be them, experimenting with a new jet fuel, who would destroy the universe.

Billy and the other soldiers were transferred to Dresden, which was a beautiful city. Billy traveled to the airplane crash, where he mistook the people who rescued him for German soldiers. During surgery, he traveled back to Dresden. In Dresden, he worked at a factory that made malt syrup with vitamins, which everyone illegally spooned. They were kept in slaughterhouse number five. About a month later, the city was bombed, and the prisoners survived in an underground bunker.

At his eighteenth wedding anniversary party, to which he invited Trout after they met in an alley, Billy flipped out; the barbershop quartet reminded him of the Dresden guards.

Years later, in the hospital after the plane crash, Billy met Air Force Historian and war-hawk Bertram Copeland Rumfoord, who told him that the bombing of Dresden was necessary and had to be kept a secret because of all the American "bleeding hearts."

After the crash, Billy escaped to New York, where he snuck onto a radio show to preach his Tralfamadorian wisdom.

In the last chapter, the narrator tells of how he traveled back to Dresden, and how Billy and the other prisoners had been made to dig up corpses from the ruins. ( )
  bostonwendym | Aug 26, 2016 |
La descrizione del bombardamento di Desdra è davvero molto toccante. Vale solo per questo! ( )
  cloentrelibros | Aug 23, 2016 |
I think I was the only one in my college generation who didn't read Slaughterhouse Five. So here I am, 63 years old, having read it for the first time. Does it hold up for someone of my years as it did for my friends over four decades ago?

Yes. Great novel. Deservedly judged a masterpiece. ( )
  kvrfan | Aug 19, 2016 |
Hapless World War II-era GI Billy Pilgrim survives a stint as a POW and the horrific firebombing of Dresden only to return home, become an optometrist, marry the boss's daughter and get kidnapped by aliens. The Tralfamadorians teach Billy their way of looking at time; to them each individual moment is separate and distinct (like beads on a string) and also permanently available to revisit. There's no such thing as free will in this scheme, since each event must recur in exactly the same way each time, but, on the plus side, there is such a thing as time-travel. Using the perspective the Tralfamadorians taught him, Billy travels back in time to his captivity in a Dresden slaughterhouse.

I'm not quite sure what to make of this book. Slaughter-House Five is easy to read, but it packs a literary and satiric (primarily anti-war) punch. It is the type of book that makes me wish my book club would choose to read it, because I think it would make for a lively discussion. ( )
  akblanchard | Aug 9, 2016 |
Showing 1-5 of 443 (next | show all)
It is a novel about war and what men do to each other in the name of holy causes.

Which is not to say it is anywhere near "The Naked and the Dead" or "From Here to Eternity." Vonnegut fights his wars with feathers rather than with jackhammers. "Slaughterhouse-Five" is funny, satirical, compelling, outrageous, fanciful, mordant, fecund and at the bottom-line, simply stoned-out-of-its-mind.
added by Shortride | editLos Angeles Times, Harlan Ellison (pay site) (Apr 20, 1969)
 
An agonizing, funny, profoundly rueful attempt by Vonnegut to handle in fable form his own memories of the strategically unnecessary Allied air raid on Dresden... few modern writers have borne witness against inhumanity with more humanity or humor.
added by jjlong | editTime (Apr 11, 1969)
 
"Slaughterhouse-Five" is an extraordinary success. It is a book we need to read, and to reread. It has the same virtues as Vonnegut's best previous work. It is funny, compassionate and wise. The humor in Vonnegut's fiction is what enables us to contemplate the horror that he finds in contemporary existence. It does not disguise the awful things perceived; it merely strengthens and comforts us to the point where such perception is bearable.
 
It sounds crazy. It sounds like a fantastic last-ditch effort to make sense of a lunatic universe. But there is so much more to this book. It is very tough and very funny; it is sad and delightful; and it works. But is also very Vonnegut, which mean you'll either love it, or push it back in the science-fiction corner.
 

» Add other authors (16 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Vonnegut, Kurtprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Владимир ФилиповTranslatormain authorall editionsconfirmed
Brioschi, LuigiTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Chesterman, AdrianIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Ferrer, JoseNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Franco, JamesNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Hoog, ElseTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Jaskari, JuhaniTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Alternative titles
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People/Characters
Important places
Important events
Related movies
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Epigraph
The cattle are lowing,
The Baby awakes.
But the little Lord Jesus
No crying He makes.
Dedication
For Mary O'Hare and Gerhard Müller
First words
All this happened, more or less.
Quotations
Like so many Americans, she was trying to construct a life that made sense from things she found in gift shops.
There was a a soft drink bottle on the windowsill. Its label boasted that it contained no nourishment whatsoever.
I have told my sons that they are not under any circumstances to take part in massacres, and that the news of massacres of enemies is not to fill them with satisfaction or glee.
So it goes.
Listen:

Billy Pilgrim has come unstuck in time.
Last words
(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
Disambiguation notice
Publisher's editors
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References to this work on external resources.

Wikipedia in English (3)

Book description
[R.L. 6.0]
From the World War Two firebombing of Dresden to the distant planet called Tralfamadore, the reader follows Billy Pilgrim in his attempt to understand the natures of time and existence.
Haiku summary

Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0385333846, Paperback)

Kurt Vonnegut's absurdist classic Slaughterhouse-Five introduces us to Billy Pilgrim, a man who becomes unstuck in time after he is abducted by aliens from the planet Tralfamadore. In a plot-scrambling display of virtuosity, we follow Pilgrim simultaneously through all phases of his life, concentrating on his (and Vonnegut's) shattering experience as an American prisoner of war who witnesses the firebombing of Dresden.

Don't let the ease of reading fool you--Vonnegut's isn't a conventional, or simple, novel. He writes, "There are almost no characters in this story, and almost no dramatic confrontations, because most of the people in it are so sick, and so much the listless playthings of enormous forces. One of the main effects of war, after all, is that people are discouraged from being characters..." Slaughterhouse-Five (taken from the name of the building where the POWs were held) is not only Vonnegut's most powerful book, it is as important as any written since 1945. Like Catch- 22, it fashions the author's experiences in the Second World War into an eloquent and deeply funny plea against butchery in the service of authority. Slaughterhouse-Five boasts the same imagination, humanity, and gleeful appreciation of the absurd found in Vonnegut's other works, but the book's basis in rock-hard, tragic fact gives it a unique poignancy--and humor.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:01:01 -0400)

(see all 6 descriptions)

Billy Pilgrim returns home from the Second World War only to be kidnapped by aliens from the planet Tralfamadore, who teach him that time is an eternal present.

(summary from another edition)

» see all 16 descriptions

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