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Religion and War Made Strange

‚Ostranenie‘ in Vonnegut’s ‚Slaughterhouse-Five‘

Alexandra Berlina

Pages 19 - 34


Kurt Vonnegut was arguably the American twentieth-century specialist in ‚ostranenie‘ (also known as “defamiliarization” and “estrangement”). Nevertheless, this aspect of his work has received very little attention so far. The present article hopes to fill part of this lacuna, concentrating on the way war and religion are made strange in ‚Slaughterhouse-Five‘ (with some mentions of other works such as ‚Breakfast for Champions‘). The analysis of these effects forms the bulk of the article (part II), flanked by considerations on ‚ostranenie‘, particularly in the context of Vonnegut’s and Shklovsky’s war experience (part I), and an overview of Vonnegut’s precursors in the ‚ostranenie‘ of religion and war, such as Swift, Twain, and Heller (part III).


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