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The Life of the Acclaimed?Author, Kurt Vonnegut was as Rich as His Fictional Works

Kurt Vonnegut is widely known for his special brand of postmodernism, science fiction, and humour ? particularly his irreverent, semi-autobiographical novel?Slaughterhouse-Five, which earned him many accolades. In a career spanning over 50 years, Vonnegut published fourteen novels, three short story collections, five plays, and five works of non-fiction.

While works like?Slaughterhouse-Five?have pushed Vonnegut?s work into the cultural lexicon, the general public knows comparatively less about his personal life.

Kurt Vonnegut Jr. was born on November 11, 1922 in Indianapolis, Indiana. He was the youngest of three children of Kurt Vonnegut Sr. and his wife Edith (n?e Lieber). His older siblings were Bernard (born 1914) and Alice (born 1917). Vonnegut was descended from German immigrants who settled in the United States in the mid-19th century.?Vonnegut’s mother was born into Indianapolis high society, as her family, the Liebers, were among the wealthiest in the city, their fortune derived from ownership of a successful brewery.

Although both of Vonnegut’s parents were fluent German speakers, the ill feeling toward that country during and after World War I caused the Vonneguts to abandon the culture to show their American patriotism. Thus, they never taught their youngest son German or introduced him to German literature and tradition, leaving him feeling “ignorant and rootless”. Vonnegut later credited Ida Young, his family’s African-American cook and housekeeper for the first ten years of his life, for raising him and giving him values. “She gave me decent moral instruction and was exceedingly nice to me. So she was as great an influence on me as anybody.” Vonnegut described Young as “humane and wise”, adding that “the compassionate, forgiving aspects of his beliefs” came from her.

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