Context and Neglect: Kurt Vonnegut and the Middleclass Magazine
AbstractThe scholarship focusing on the work of Kurt Vonnegut, Jr. has largely centered on his novels. Most studies have neglected Vonnegut’s start in the popular magazine market writing short stories. A few notable scholars have focused on the stories: Jerome Klinkowitz, Peter J. Reed, Jeff Karon, James Thorson, and Steve Gronert Ellerhoff. Even with the work of such scholars, there have been few studies that consider the context of Vonnegut’s earliest stories and how the influence of the middleclass magazine market not only shaped Vonnegut’s career but had continued impact on his later novels. This study explores Vonnegut’s first eight stories: “Report on the Barnhouse Effect,” “Thanasphere,” “EPICAC,” “All the King’s Horses,” “Mnemonics,” “The Euphio Question,” “The Foster Portfolio,” and “More Stately Mansions.” The stories are considered within the context of their first publication venue, the magazine Collier’s, and how that context shows connections between the stories and his novels such as Player Piano, Cat’s Cradle, and Slaughterhouse-Five. Understanding this intertextuality provides a deeper understanding of Vonnegut’s larger world of connected themes, characters, and settings.
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