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Title: The Hero at a Thousand Places: Kurt Vonnegut’s Slaughterhouse-Five as Anti-Monomyth
Authors: Raj A.
Kumar, Nagendra
Published in: Critique - Studies in Contemporary Fiction
Abstract: Kurt Vonnegut’s Slaughterhouse-Five (1969) has remained the most widely discussed of his novels in the five decades since its publication. However, the volume of critical work produced on it far outweighs the unique lines of thought investigated. The critiques have mostly been limited to–diagnoses of Billy Pilgrim’s mental disorder, locating the sources of the diagnosed ailments, examinations of Vonnegut’s intended philosophy, comparisons of the novel to other anti-war works, and investigations of the elements of humor and science fiction in the novel. This article attempts a close reading of the novel along the lines of the hero quest, or monomyth, as chronicled in The Hero with a Thousand Faces (1949) by Joseph Campbell. The article disentangles the novel to release the inherent quest narrative from its non-linear structure and reinterprets it in terms of Campbell’s quest stages to reveal an uncanny resemblance to the mythical hero’s journey. The nature of the journey and the hero’s traits, and the departures observed in Vonnegut’s monomyth from Campbell’s determine the relevance and implications of Billy’s quest and warrant the need to coin his quest anew, namely the anti-monomyth. © 2020 Taylor & Francis Group, LLC.
Citation: Critique - Studies in Contemporary Fiction, 62(2): 239-252
Issue Date: 2021
Publisher: Routledge
ISSN: 111619
Author Scopus IDs: 57218370752
Author Affiliations: Raj, A., Department of English, Pt Chiranji Lal Sharma Government College, Affiliated to Kurukshetra University, Karnal, India
Kumar, N., Department of Humanities and Social Sciences, Indian Institute of Technology Roorkee, Roorkee, India
Corresponding Author: Raj, A.; Department of English, Sector 14, India; email:
Appears in Collections:Journal Publications [HS]

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