The Lost Art of Letter Writing: The Philosophical Diatribe

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Kurt Vonnegut, Jr.

It is said that Kurt Vonnegut, Jr. didn’t edit his novels. Instead, he thought about each sentence in his head and did his revisions there before committing it to paper. It seems like he took the same approach to his letter writing.

This excerpt of a letter from Vonnegut to his friend and mentor Knox Burger is another example of the author’s tendency toward thinking that remains depressingly relevant. It is dated May 29, 1952:

…bureaucracy is nothing more than modern business practice applied to government. I think big business is a terrible thing for the spirit of the country, as our spirit is the best thing about us. Making us a nation of ass kissers. Only way, or virtually the only way, to get ahead these days. Deadly. Change the title of manager of sales to the Duke of Schenectady, and you start wondering if maybe the Revolutionary War was subversive.

Yours truly,

Kurt Vonnegut, Jr.

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Knox Burger

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