Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)




J. Sigman




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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