Thursday, April 12, 2007

Kurt Vonnegut: ‘You’ve got to be kind.’

The writer Kurt Vonnegut died last night (April 11, 2007) in Manhattan at the age of eighty-four.

Dinitia Smith has written a tribute for the New York Times entitled, ‘Kurt Vonnegut, Counterculture’s Novelist, Dies’, April 12, 2007.

Dinitia writes:
“Mr. Vonnegut wrote plays, essays and short fiction. But it was his novels that became classics of the American counterculture, making him a literary idol, particularly to students in the 1960s and ’70s.”

“With his curly hair askew, deep pouches under his eyes and rumpled clothes, he often looked like an out-of-work philosophy professor, typically chain smoking, his conversation punctuated with coughs and wheezes.”

“Like Mark Twain, Mr. Vonnegut used humor to tackle the basic questions of human existence: Why are we in this world? Is there a presiding figure to make sense of all this, a god who in the end, despite making people suffer, wishes them well? He also shared with Twain a profound pessimism.”

“To Mr. Vonnegut, the only possible redemption for the madness and apparent meaninglessness of existence was human kindness. The title character in his 1965 novel, “God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater,” summed up his philosophy:

“Hello, babies. Welcome to Earth. It’s hot in the summer and cold in the winter. It’s round and wet and crowded. At the outside, babies, you’ve got about a hundred years here. There’s only one rule that I know of, babies — ‘God damn it, you’ve got to be kind.’ ”

Source and to read the entire article: Dinitia Smith ‘Kurt Vonnegut, Counterculture’s Novelist, Dies’, New York Times, April 12, 2007.

Image: Kurt Vonnegut.

Geoff Pound