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Farewell, Hello, Mr Vonnegut

On April 11th, Kurt Vonnegut, “one of the defining voices of post-war America”, as The Economist calls him, died at the age of 84. He was the son of an American father and a German mother and witnessed the fire-bombing of Dresden in 1945 as a prisoner of war there.
“Although Mr Vonnegut's experience in Dresden shaped his world view, it took him 24 years and seven novels before he wrote the “famous Dresden book” he had promised. “Slaughterhouse-Five” (,, published in 1969 against the backdrop of racial unrest and the Vietnam war, propelled him from science-fiction writer (a label he abhorred) to literary icon,” the Economist continues in its obituary.
It is this novel, The Guardian further elaborates, that “contained the phrase that became most closely associated with him and that could most fittingly serve as his epitaph: 'So it goes.' The words recur throughout the book each time a death is recorded.
“Slaughterhouse-Five” reached No. 1 on best-seller lists, making Mr. Vonnegut a cult hero”, and ‘so it goes’ became a catchphrase for opponents of the Vietnam war,” adds the New York Times.
Showing his typical dark humor, Kurt Vonnegut himself wrote in an introduction for a special edition of his most famous work ten years after its first publication:    
The Dresden atrocity, tremendously expensive and meticulously planned, was so meaningless, finally, that only one person on the entire planet got any benefit from it. I am that person. I wrote this book, which earned a lot of money for me and made my reputation, such as it is. One way or another, I got two or three dollars for every person killed. Some business I’m in.
Let’s hope that Kurt Vonnegut’s death has one single benefit, too: causing lots of people to (re-) read his fabulous book.


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David on :

Thanks for this tribute. Did you know that Vonnegut was a member of a dying breed: an American socialist? Vonnegut was an admirer of fellow Hoosier Eugene Debs - the great socialist leader (a "Hoosier" is someone from the state of Indiana). Vonnegut also had contempt for the Bush administration. In his last book he wrote: [i]"I have never smoked anything but Pall Malls since I was 11 years old. On the package for several years now, they promised to kill me, but I'm still alive. I'm 84 years old....The last thing I ever wanted was to be alive when the three most powerful people on the face of the earth were named Bush, Dick, and Colin."[/i] Kurt Vonnegut - A Man Without a Country.

Wintermute on :

By the way, this is how Fox News paid tribute to him:

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