Kurt Vonnegut Jr.: Mother Night



The thing I love best about Kurt Vonnegut is that he was both the ultimate cynic and the ultimate humanist What better character for him to create to embody those views than a Nazi with ood intentionsHoward W Campbell Jr was an American citizen who The Cowboy Takes a Bride (The Bridal Bid grew up in Germany and became a prominent Nazi thanks to his virulent anti Semitic propaganda However Howard had actually been recruited before the war began to be an American spy who provided vital intelligence to the Allies via codes hidden in his freuent radio broadcasts Years after the war has ended Howard recounts the story as he is being held in Israel awaiting trial for war crimes As he explains what happened before during and after the war Howard repeatedly touches on the unasked uestion that haunts his life Does pretending to be evil in the service of aood cause still make you evilI had always felt alone in thinking that his was actually Vonnegut s best book so I was happy to be validated by the comments of several other Goodreaders sharing the same thought Vonnegut s Michaels Discovery (The Devaneys gift was looking at the world with clearaze and acknowledging that people were pretty much shit but still having enough compassion and empathy to look for moments of dignity He did it with that that uniue bittersweet sense of humor that allowed him to write about the horrors of something like the Holocaust and Shotgun Wedding (Silhouette Yours Truly, give it a tone of a very wise man shaking his head with a bitter chuckle at a dark sick joke Vastly underrated piece of black comedy about a World War 2 double agent whose cover is a Nazi propagandist in the style of Lord Haw Haw Vonnegut says in the preface that this is the only one of his books where he knows what the moral is You are what you pretend to be so be careful about who you pretend to be For my money Vonnegut s second best book running Cat s Cradle very closeIt s not just me thereat Doris Lessing also wrote once that she couldn t uite understand why this book wasn t famous Her speculation was that the literary world simply refuses to take anything seriously that is first published in paperback Now that she s finally received the Nobel Prize maybe people will listen carefully When most people think of Kurt Vonnegut the novels Slaughterhouse Five and Cat s Cradle immediately come to mind It s a shame that people aren t familiar with Mother Night a novel in which Vonnegut explores the nature of moral ambiguity and what high minded ideals we sacrifice on the altar of war It s a skillful blend of Vonnegut s trademark dark humor and philosophical musings about human morality as observed through the lens of war To put it simply this is some ood stuffSitting in an Israeli jail and writing his memoirs Howard Campbell awaits trial for war crimes as a Nazi in World War II As Howard himself says I am an American by birth a Nazi by reputation and a nationless person by inclination 1 And this is the root of Howard s problem he has no true identity As he ruminates on his past we see how the apolitical Howard was drawn In Stanley Kubrik s film Full Metal Jacket one of the most highlighted scenes is where the protagonist is asked to explain the peace symbol and Born to Kill slogan on his helmet His response I think I was trying to suggest something about the duality of man Cannot help but wonder if the writer for Full Metal Jacket had been thinking of Mother Night when he wrote that line One of the darker novels in Vonnegut s collection but still with the humor and blithely irreverent tone that is his trademark Mother Night asks a lot of uestions and leaves many unanswered inviting deep introspection for the reader and for our society as a whole 2019 re read We are what we pretend to be so we must be careful about what we pretend to be Vonnegut Poets priests and politiciansHave words to thank for their positionsWords that scream for your submissionAnd no one s jamming their transmission Cause when their elouence escapes youTheir logic ties you up and rapes youDe do do do de da da daIs all I want to say to you StingI had forgotten how dark this is Yes still some fun mixed in but we are seeing the 3am Mother Night is a daring challenge to our moral sense American Howard W Campbell Jr a spy during World War II

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GutMother Night is a novel by American author Kurt Vonnegut first published in February 1962 The title of the book is taken from Goethe s Faust It is the fictional memoirs of Howard W Campbell Jr an American who moved to Germany in 1923 at age 11 and later became a well known playwright and Nazi propagandist The action of the novel is narrated through the use of metafiction by Campbell himself The premise is that he is writing his memoirs while awaiting trial for war crimes in an Israeli prison Howard W Campbell also appears briefly in Vonnegut s later novel Slaughterhouse Five 2001 1380 240 9789645512987 20 My favorite Kurt Vonnegut uote We are what we pretend to be comes from Mother Night A bit silly but I think this was the reason I was reluctant to read Mother Night I liked the uote so well that I was somehow afraid that the novel would disappoint From the outset I want to say Mother Night is fantastic In Mother Night it somehow seems like Howard W Campbell Jr is uilty of something but what exactly As an American working undercover as a propagandist for the Germans during WWII was he too ood a spy Did he become what he pretended to be Say what you will about the sweet miracle of unuestioning faith I consider a capacity for it terrifying and absolutely vile this is a hard world to be ludicrous in with so many human beings so reluctant to laugh so incapable of thought so eager to believe and snarl and hate Another fantastic Vonnegut experience What the this surely wasn t penned by Kurt Vonnegut right Where s that bizarre sci fi slant Where are those Tralfamadorians or that confusing time shifting narrative We aren t seriously stuck in time for the entire story here What about all those absurd characters No Kilgore Trout Dwayne Hoover or Billy Pilgrim Ah but some of these uys are pretty odd and I couldn t help but notice a few references to Schenectady New York That s all rather curious but I m still not entirely convincedI should point out that while it is rather surprising to et a straight forward narrative from Mr Vonnegut for the uninitiated this may actually be his most accessible novelOur narrator is Howard W Campbell Jr an American awaiting trial in Israel for war crimes committed as a Nazi propagandist Howard was born in American but moved to Berlin at a young age His early career is that of an author and playwright He eventually joins the Nazi party in name only He sees himself as an American by birth a Nazi by reputation and a nationless person by inclination His only real loyalty is to that of his wife and their Nation of Two As he rises through the party his recognition as an American Nazi leads him to become the voice of the Nazi propaganda broadcasts aimed at converting Americans to the causeHoward claims to have been recruited as an American spy but there s no proof to verify his claim His handler apparently used a fake name and no one has ever seen the two together No overnment official will either confirm or deny the possibility Howard asks Can I prove I was an American spy My unbroken lily white neck is Exhibit A and it s the only exhibit I have Even if that s true how can it possibly balance the scales with all the horrible atrocities his words helped to propagate And here in lies the moral of the story We are what we pretend to be so we must be careful about what we pretend to be This is the struggle that weighs heavily on Howard Throughout the story he s rescued from prosecution time and again by his handler Blue Fairy Godmother But in the end he chooses to stand trial not as much for war crimes as for crimes against his own conscienceWhile this started off as a pretty solid three to four star read for me the last uarter of the book is true Copper Lake Secrets genius The commentaries and philosophies presented therein are uite remarkable some of which border on poetry The analogy of the totalitarian mind as system ofears whose teeth have been filed off at random is particularly insightful I m not sure if this is my favorite Vonnegut I do miss some of his trademark wackiness but its right near the top 5 Stars all the way. Allows humor Vonnegut turns black and white into a chilling shade of ray with a verdict that will haunt us all.

Itchen of Vonnegut s soul But like all of his works it operates on many levels and is not what it appears to be on the surfaceHoward W Campbell Jr was a nazi He was an American raised in Germany when his engineer father moved the family there for work He stayed and became a propagandist and radio voice for the Third ReichOr did heVonnegut is in rare form in this 1961 publication his fifth and one that delves deeply into the Germany he experienced as a prisoner of war His later book Slaughterhouse Five 1969 oes depth about his own perspective but here we examine the troubling case of an American who has switched teamsBut Turns out that the apolitical Campbell really just wanted to play with words and have fun and make love to his beautiful German wife Helga He was approached surreptitiously early on by an American officer who recruited him to be a spy to pretend to be a nazi agent and to send coded messages home during his pro nazi broadcastsBut the talented wordsmith did his job too Men Are Like Waffles--Women Are Like Spaghetti Devotional Study Guide good He became the poster boy for all things nazi and a beacon of inspiration for Hitler lovers and a source of derision to those of his native landVonnegut explores in his mischievous way patriotism ideology and the effect of words on those that choose to listen For this reason alone in this age of political correctness where saying the wrong thing implies that we ARE the wrong thing this sixty year old book is timeless and relevant The scenes with the agingroup of diverse racists is dementedly hilarious and uintessential Vonnegut and made me wonder if Dave Chapelle was inspired by this work Mental health disorders are a ubiuitous element in Vonnegut s books During this 2019 reading festival so far I ve read Breakfast of Champions God Bless You Mr Rosewater Galapagos and now this and they ve all had characters who suffer some mental impairment and commentary from Vonnegut Vonnegut s mother suffered from levels of insanity and the deranged perspective is one that he returns freuentlyPerhaps not one of his better known works but a must read for his fans and one that an interested reader should to see the Plain Jane The Hotshot great range and ability of one of our most talented writers This is the best Vonnegut I ve read so far American Nazi Howard W Campbell Jr is awaiting trial on war crimes A traitor to the American people Campbell is responsible for the deliberate spread of damaging propaganda throughout Germany and its English Mother Night ItalianoProbably Vonnegut will never be one of my favourite writers However I must say that Mother Night is aood novel Howard W Campbell Junior is an American playwright emigrated to Germany of the Third Reich become the symbol as well as the radio personality of Nazi propaganda Campbell Junior brings us his memories from an Israeli jail waiting to be tried for crimes against humanityThe tragicomic story that comes out Family of Her Dreams gives us totallyrotesue characters motivated by the most diverse ideals The personal reflection about the war by the author is interesting and the protagonist s mental paths that define the epilogue of the novel are interesting tooVote 7Probabilmente Vonnegut non e non sar mai uno dei miei autori preferiti Tuttavia devo ammettere che Madre Notte un bel romanzo Howard W Campbell Junior commediografo americano emigrato nella Germania del terzo Reich simbolo nonch voce radiofonica della propaganda nazista ci narra le sue memorie da un carcere israeliano in attesa di essere processato per crimini contro l umanit Il racconto tragicomico che ne viene fuori ci consegna personaggi decisamente Blackmailed Into the Italians Bed grotteschi mossi dagli ideali pi disparati La riflessione personale sullauerra da parte dell autore interessante e interessanti sono i percorsi mentali del protagonista che definiscono l epilogo del romanzoVoto 7 Spotting Fake NewsFake news did not arise with Donald Trump s tweets Propagandists of the Left and the Right have used it since before there was a Left and Right America has always had a fascist edge 19th century Nativists Know Nothings Klansmen Red Shirts White Leaguers and Constitutional Unioni Mother Night Kurt Vonne. S now on trial in Israel as a Nazi war criminal But is he really uilty In this brilliant book rife with true

Kurt Vonnegut Junior was an American novelist satirist and most recently graphic artist He was recognized as New York State Author for 2001 2003 He was born in Indianapolis later the setting for many of his novels He attended Cornell University from 1941 to 1943 where he wrote a column for the student newspaper the Cornell Daily Sun Vonnegut trained as a chemist and worked as a journali