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Date of Award

10-1990

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

Department

English

Supervisor

J. Sigman

Language

English

Abstract

This paper is primarily concerned with demonstrating the influence of Jonathan Swift on Kurt Vonnegut; or, more specifically, of Gulliver's Travels on Slapstick. The introductory chapter establishes the possibility of a Swiftiian influence from Vonnegut's proposed "Preface" to an edition of the Travels ("Jonathan Swift Misperceived," Chapter XIV , of Vonnegut's Palm Sunday). Previous criticism that compares Vonnegut to Swift (Wymer, Sliaw), and how this study differs from this criticism, is examined. Some, general terms relevant to an examination of both I authors are subsequently defined (Abrams). The Introduction doses with a brief outline of the contents of the following chapters.

Chapter One surveys and assesses some of the more important reviews and criticism on Slapstick, and forms a basis for the following discussion. Chapter Two, the heart of the thesis, is a direct comparison of Slapstick and Gulliver's Travels. Chapter Three examines how Vonnegut reads Swift, as ascertained from his proposed "Preface," I and how this reading manifests itself in Slapstick--in essence, a Vonnegutian look at Swift. An "allegorical' examination of Vonnegut, constructed on the framework of the entire paper to that point, is then conducted--in essence, a Swiftian look at Vonnegut. The concluding chapter summarizes the contents of the earlier chapters, and determines the merit of the comparison study.

McMaster University Library

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