Title Image - Quotes by Author Kurt VonnegutPhoto Credit: WikiMedia Commons

Welcome to our collection of quotes (with shareable picture quotes) by Kurt Vonnegut. We hope you enjoy pondering them and that you will share them widely.

Wikipedia Summary for Kurt Vonnegut

Kurt Vonnegut Jr. (November 11, 1922 – April 11, 2007) was an American writer. In a career spanning over 50 years, he published 14 novels, three short story collections, five plays, and five nonfiction works, with further collections being published after his death.

Born and raised in Indianapolis, Vonnegut attended Cornell University but withdrew in January 1943 and enlisted in the U.S. Army. As part of his training, he studied mechanical engineering at the Carnegie Institute of Technology (now Carnegie Mellon University) and the University of Tennessee. He was then deployed to Europe to fight in World War II and was captured by the Germans during the Battle of the Bulge. He was interned in Dresden, where he survived the Allied bombing of the city in a meat locker of the slaughterhouse where he was imprisoned. After the war, he married Jane Marie Cox, with whom he had three children. He adopted his nephews after his sister died of cancer and her husband was killed in a train accident. He and his wife both attended the University of Chicago, while he worked as a night reporter for the City News Bureau.

Vonnegut published his first novel, Player Piano, in 1952. The novel was reviewed positively but was not commercially successful at the time. In the nearly 20 years that followed, he published several novels that were well regarded, two of which (The Sirens of Titan [1959] and Cat's Cradle [1963]) were nominated for the Hugo Award for best novel. He published a short story collection titled Welcome to the Monkey House in 1968. His breakthrough was his commercially and critically successful sixth novel, Slaughterhouse-Five (1969). The book's anti-war sentiment resonated with its readers amidst the ongoing Vietnam War and its reviews were generally positive. After its release, Slaughterhouse-Five went to the top of The New York Times Best Seller list, thrusting Vonnegut into fame. He was invited to give speeches, lectures, and commencement addresses around the country, and received many awards and honors.

Later in his career, Vonnegut published several autobiographical essays and short-story collections such as Fates Worse Than Death (1991) and A Man Without a Country (2005). After his death, he was hailed as one of the most important contemporary writers and a dark humor commentator on American society. His son Mark published a compilation of his unpublished works, titled Armageddon in Retrospect, in 2008. In 2017, Seven Stories Press published Complete Stories, a collection of Vonnegut's short fiction including five previously unpublished stories. Complete Stories was collected and introduced by Vonnegut friends and scholars Jerome Klinkowitz and Dan Wakefield. Numerous scholarly works have examined Vonnegut's writing and humor.

The programming wasn’t done surgically or electrically, or by any other sort of neurological intrusiveness. It was done socially, with nothing but talk, talk, talk.

--Kurt Vonnegut

Find a subject you care about and which you feel others should care about. It is this genuine caring, and not your games with language which will be the most compelling and seductive element in your style.

--Kurt Vonnegut

I am committing suicide by cigarette, I replied. She thought that was reasonably funny. I didn't. I thought it was hideous that I should scorn life that much, sucking away on cancer sticks.

--Kurt Vonnegut

And I left the seashell roar and the aurora borealis of the city's heart farther and farther behind me.

--Kurt Vonnegut

War is now a form of TV entertainment.

--Kurt Vonnegut

I am, of course, notoriously hooked on cigarettes. I keep hoping the things will kill me. A fire at one end and a fool at the other.

--Kurt Vonnegut

Father, we are here to help each other get through this thing, whatever it is.

--Kurt Vonnegut

Life is nothing but high school.

--Kurt Vonnegut

Labor history was pornography of a sort in those days, and even more so in these days. In public schools and in the homes of nice people it was and remains pretty much taboo to tell tales of labor's sufferings and derring-do.

--Kurt Vonnegut

I have never identified with the K in Kafka's works, by the way. Having grown up in a democracy, I have dared to imagine that I know at all times who is really in charge, what is really going on. This could be a mistake.

--Kurt Vonnegut

Why should a real man stay home when he could be raping a virgin continent?

--Kurt Vonnegut

A very good me, the real me, a me made in Heaven, is hidden deep inside.

--Kurt Vonnegut

You asked the impossible of a machine and the machine complied.

--Kurt Vonnegut

I am the Emperor! cried Harrison. Do you hear? I am the Emperor! Everybody must do what I say at once! He stamped his foot and the studio shook.

Even as I stand here he bellowed, crippled, hobbled, sickened -- I am a greater ruler than any man who ever lived! Now watch me become what I can become.

--Kurt Vonnegut

The statue was of a nude woman playing a slide trombone. It was entitles, enigmatically, Evelyn and Her Magic Violin.

--Kurt Vonnegut

Their beauty was to the beauty of Miss Canal Zone as the glory of the Sun was to the glory of a lightning bug.

--Kurt Vonnegut

The church, which squatted among the headstones like a wet mother dodo, had been at various times Presbyterian, Congregationalist, Unitarian, and Universally Apocalyptic. It was now the Church of God the Utterly Indifferent.

--Kurt Vonnegut

It's a small world, I observed.
When you put it in a cemetery, it is.

--Kurt Vonnegut

Suicide is the punctuation mark at the end of many artistic careers.

--Kurt Vonnegut

In The Mysterious Stranger, Mark Twain proves to his own grim satisfaction, and to mine as well, that Satan and not God created the planet earth and the damned human race. If you doubt that, read your morning paper. Never mind what paper. Never mind what date.

--Kurt Vonnegut

That war only made billionaires out of millionaires. Today's war is making trillionaires out of billionaires. Now I call that progress.

--Kurt Vonnegut

It was going to be about the love my wife and I had for each other. It was going to show how a pair of lovers in a world gone mad could survive by being loyal only to a nation composed of themselves -- a nation of two.

--Kurt Vonnegut

If you live long enough, a lot of people close to you are going to die.

--Kurt Vonnegut

My father died many years ago now -- of natural causes. So it goes. He was a sweet man. He was a gun nut, too. He left me his guns. They rust.

--Kurt Vonnegut

The good Earth -- we could have saved it, but we were too damn cheap and lazy.

--Kurt Vonnegut

The smoke from her cigarette passed beneath the nostrils of the brown and white girls, and their space-annihilating concupiscence seemed centered on mentholated smoke along.

--Kurt Vonnegut

I think that novels that leave out technology misrepresent life as badly as Victorians misrepresented life by leaving out sex.

--Kurt Vonnegut

The things other people have put into my head, at any rate, do not fit together nicely, are often useless and ugly, are out of proportion with one another, are out of proportion with life as it really is outside my head.

--Kurt Vonnegut

I speak of humorless people as having a moral flaw, and that's not fair. It's just like regarding it as a moral flaw that someone can't sing. An awful lot of humorless people come into this world, and they make very good Nazis.

--Kurt Vonnegut

The most radical, audacious thing to think is that there might be some point to working hard and thinking hard and reading hard and writing hard and trying to be of service.

--Kurt Vonnegut

What makes you think a writer isn't a drug salesman?

--Kurt Vonnegut

My advice to writers just starting out? Don't use semi-colons! They are transvestite hermaphrodites, representing exactly nothing. All they do is suggest you might have gone to college.

--Kurt Vonnegut

How complicated and unpredictable the machinery of life really is.

--Kurt Vonnegut

I think the planet's immune system is trying to get rid of us with AIDS and new strains of flu and tuberculosis, and so on. I think the planet should get rid of us. We're really awful animals.

--Kurt Vonnegut

Private -' I said. 'I've been living alone so long, everything about me's private. I'm surprised anyone's able to understand a word I say.

--Kurt Vonnegut

And I apologize to all of you who are the same age as my grandchildren. And many of you reading this are the same age as my grandchildren. They, like you, are being royally shafted and lied to by our Baby Boomer corporations and government.

--Kurt Vonnegut

Earthlings went on being friendly, when they should have been thinking instead.

--Kurt Vonnegut

Sometimes I think it is a great mistake to have matter that can think and feel. It complains so. By the same token, though, I suppose that boulders and mountains and moons could be accused of being a little too phlegmatic.

--Kurt Vonnegut

But if today is really in honor of a hundred children murdered in a war, he said, is today a day for a thrilling show? The answer is yes, on one condition: that we, the celebrants, are working tirelessly to reduce the stupidity and viciousness of ourselves and of all mankind.

--Kurt Vonnegut

About astrology and palmistry: they are good because they make people vivid and full of possibilities.  They are communism at its best.  Everybody has a birthday and almost everybody has a palm.

--Kurt Vonnegut

I say in speeches that a plausible mission of artists is to make people appreciate being alive at least a little bit. I am then asked if I know of any artists who pulled that off. I reply, 'The Beatles did'.

--Kurt Vonnegut

Thanks to TV and for the convenience of TV, you can only be one of two kinds of human beings, either a liberal or a conservative.

--Kurt Vonnegut

Jokes have to be quite naked to be understood. They have to be quite simple.

--Kurt Vonnegut

Fuller's cigar in the night was a beacon warning carefree, frivolous people away. It was plainly a cigar smoked in anger.

--Kurt Vonnegut

Here we are trapped in the amber of the moment. There is no why.

--Kurt Vonnegut

The Earthlings behaved at all times as though there were a big eye in the sky as though that big eye were ravenous for entertainment.

--Kurt Vonnegut

I was hoping to build a country and add to its literature. That's why I served in World War II, and that's why I wrote books.

--Kurt Vonnegut

Never had I seen a human being better adjusted to such a humiliating physical handicap. I shuddered with admiration.

--Kurt Vonnegut

Most of the supposed wealth held by American banks at that point had become so wholly imaginary, so weightless and impalpable, that any amount of it could be transferred instantly to Ecuador, or anyplace else capable of receiving a written message by wire or radio.

--Kurt Vonnegut

I was a student in the Department of Anthropology. At that time, they were teaching that there was absolutely no difference between anybody. They may be teaching that still.

--Kurt Vonnegut

I concluded that the best thing for me and for those around me was to want nothing, to be enthusiastic about nothing, to be as unmotivated as possible, in fact, so that I would never again hurt anyone.

--Kurt Vonnegut

Honest to God, Bill, the way things are going, all I can think of is that I'm a character in a book by somebody who wants to write about somebody who suffers all the time.

--Kurt Vonnegut

This much I knew and know: I was making myself hideously uncomfortable by not narrowing my attention to details of life which were immediately important, and by refusing to believe what my neighbors believed.

--Kurt Vonnegut

Hitler at the end thought that he himself was one more casualty in the war.

--Kurt Vonnegut

I now make my living by being impolite. I am clumsy at it.

--Kurt Vonnegut

Any scientist who can't explain to an eight-year-old what he is doing is a charlatan.

--Kurt Vonnegut

A committee of three can accomplish much if two don't show up.

--Kurt Vonnegut

I think it's important to live in a nice country rather than a powerful one. Power makes everybody crazy.

--Kurt Vonnegut

I'd rather have written Cheers than anything I've written.

--Kurt Vonnegut

It's the writer's job to stage confrontations, so the characters will say surprising and revealing things, and educate and entertain us all.

--Kurt Vonnegut

And so it goes.

--Kurt Vonnegut

Somebody gets into trouble, then gets out of it again. People love that story. They never get tired of it.

--Kurt Vonnegut

I've got at least one tiny corner of the universe I can make just the way I want it.

--Kurt Vonnegut

There is no shortage of wonderful writers. What we lack is a dependable mass of readers.

--Kurt Vonnegut

I would have had him hanged from the yardarm, hick--if somebody hadn't stolen the, hick, yardarm, hick. At dawn, hick--if somebody hadn't stolen the dawn.

--Kurt Vonnegut

Be a good editor. The Universe needs more good editors, God knows.

--Kurt Vonnegut

One good thing about TV is, if you die violently, God forbid, on camera, you will not have died in vain because you will be great entertainment.

--Kurt Vonnegut

I don't know about you, but I practice a disorganized religion. I belong to an unholy disorder. We call ourselves Our Lady of Perpetual Astonishment.

--Kurt Vonnegut

How embarrassing to be human.

--Kurt Vonnegut

The slaves were simply turned loose without any property. They were easily recognizable. They were black. They were suddenly free to go exploring.

--Kurt Vonnegut

People like to feel entitled, whether they're actually entitled or not.

--Kurt Vonnegut

We're here on Earth to fart around.

--Kurt Vonnegut

It was a hideous discovery for the stranger to make--that a man at the end of his days was capable of inflicting pain as the rawest, loudest youth. With so little time left, the stranger added one more item to his long, long list of regrets.

--Kurt Vonnegut

If people think nature is their friend then they sure don't need an enemy.

--Kurt Vonnegut

The surface of Earth heaved and seethed in fecund restlessness. Earth was most fertile where the most death was.

--Kurt Vonnegut

You're learning that you do not inhabit a solid, reliable social structure -- that the older people around you are worried, moody, goofy human beings who themselves were little kids only a few days ago.

--Kurt Vonnegut

George W. Bush has gathered around him upper-crust C-students who know no history or geography.

--Kurt Vonnegut

My special situation was that I was the son and grandson of architects. And so I saw building. We were building the city, and that was exciting.

--Kurt Vonnegut

Just in the nick of time they realized that it was their own habitat they were wrecking -- that they weren't merely visitors.

--Kurt Vonnegut

The truth is, we know so little about life, we don't really know what the good news is and what the bad news is.

--Kurt Vonnegut

You are reading a bold and universal headline which says ,'I am here, I am here, I am here.

--Kurt Vonnegut

I thought scientists were going to find out exactly how everything worked, and then make it work better.

--Kurt Vonnegut

The most racist, nastiest act by America, after human slavery, was the bombing of Nagasaki. Not of Hiroshima, which might have had some military significance. But Nagasaki was purely blowing away yellow men, women, and children. I'm glad I'm not a scientist because I'd feel so guilty now.

--Kurt Vonnegut

Thinking doesn't seem to help very much. The human brain is too high-powered to have many practical uses in this particular universe.

--Kurt Vonnegut

I am simply impressed by the unexpected insights which shower down on me when my job is to imagine, as contrasted with the woodenly familiar ideas which clutter my desk when my job is to tell the truth.

--Kurt Vonnegut

A society is only as healthy as its ideas are humane.

--Kurt Vonnegut

My soul didn't know what kind of picture to paint, but my meat sure did.

--Kurt Vonnegut

What a fool I would have been to let self-respect interfere with my happiness!

--Kurt Vonnegut

Some jerk infected the Internet with an outright lie. It shows how easy it is to do and how credulous people are.

--Kurt Vonnegut

Well, we are terribly divided politically, yes, and, you know, I don't mean to intimidate you and your listeners but I have a master's degree in anthropology from the University of Chicago.

--Kurt Vonnegut

If I wrote something that hadn't really happened, and I tried to sell it, I could go to jail. That's fraud!

--Kurt Vonnegut

Time is liquid. One moment is no more important than any other and all moments quickly run away.

--Kurt Vonnegut

My nose, thank god, had conked out by then. Noses are merciful that way. They will report that something smells awful. If the owner of a nose stays around anyway, the nose concludes that the smell isn't so bad after all. It shuts itself off, deferring to superior wisdom.

--Kurt Vonnegut

It's a widely accepted principle,' he says, 'that you can claim a piece of land which has been inhabited for tens of thousands of years, if only you repeat this mantra endlessly: 'We discovered it, we discovered it, we discovered it.

--Kurt Vonnegut

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