Vonnegut in Hungary: postmodernism, hi-low genre hopping, & self-parody

Bényei, Tamás. „Leakings: Reappropriating Science Fiction: The Case of Kurt Vonnegut,” in Anatomy of Science Fiction, edited & introduced by Donald E. Morse (Newcastle upon Tyne: Cambridge Scholars, 2006), pp. 48-69.

I’m fairly indifferent to the obsession with high/low culture and genre boundaries, not to mention postmodernism (which has taken over the whole world, now that Marxism has disappeared). However, the analysis of the structure of Vonnegut’s novels interests me.

Commenting on the blurb on the Hungarian translation of Vonnegut’s Slapstick, Bényei is struck by the characterization of the novel as “yet another of his absurd-ironical-bitter apocalyptic fantasies.” This expression condenses the theme of this essay: the tension between “real” literature and pulp fiction in Vonnegut’s fiction and its acceptance into legitimate literature via parody of science fiction’s pulpish nature. Bényei takes off from Breakfast of Champions, analyses the structure of The Sirens of Titan and Slaughterhouse Five, and returns to Breakfast of Champions. As much as I dislike postmodernism, I do find the analysis of the complex structure of Vonnegut’s work of interest, regardless of the basis of the author’s investment in it.

This is an interesting volume. See my Esperanto blog for a post on another essay in this book:

Lukács vs. science fiction?