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English Mother Night ItalianoProbably Vonnegut will never be one of my favourite writers However, I must say that Mother Night is a good novel Howard W Campbell Junior is an American playwright emigrated to Germany of the Third Reich, become the symbol as well as the radio personality of Nazi propaganda Campbell Junior brings us his memories from an Israeli jail, waiting to be tried for crimes against humanity.The tragicomic story that comes out gives us totally grotesque characters, motivated by the most diverse ideals The personal reflection about the war by the author is interesting, and the protagonist s mental paths that define the epilogue of the novel are interesting too.Vote 7.Probabilmente Vonnegut non e non sar mai uno dei miei autori preferiti Tuttavia devo ammettere che Madre Notte un bel romanzo Howard W Campbell Junior, commediografo americano emigrato nella Germania del terzo Reich, simbolo nonch voce radiofonica della propaganda nazista, ci narra le sue memorie da un carcere israeliano, in attesa di essere processato per crimini contro l umanit Il racconto tragicomico che ne viene fuori ci consegna personaggi decisamente grotteschi, mossi dagli ideali pi disparati La riflessione personale sulla guerra da parte dell autore interessante, e interessanti sono i percorsi mentali del protagonista che definiscono l epilogo del romanzo.Voto 7 Spotting Fake NewsFake news did not arise with Donald Trump s tweets Propagandists of the Left and the Right have used it since before there was a Left and Right America has always had a fascist edge 19th century Nativists, Know Nothings, Klansmen, Red Shirts, White Leaguers, and Constitutional Unionists invented fake news long before the John Birch Society, Glenn Beck, Lou Dobbs or the alt Right of Steve Bannon claimed that mass media routinely hide the truth about immigrants, Jews, and Blacks Fake news has been an American tradition since the first Federalists attacked Thomas Jefferson as a dupe of French radical revolutionaries Vonnegut s Mother Night is about fake news from the inside, and what it does to the insides of the man on the inside Howard J Campbell, a writer born in America, wrangles himself a job as chief copy writer for Joseph Goebbels s Nazi Propaganda machine His American grown copy about the inhumanity of Jews impresses his boss because it goes beyond even what Nazi ideology had to say about Jewish perfidy He is promoted to the position of lead radio broadcaster of the Reich, and therefore tagged as a war criminal after the war, wanted by the Israelis.But Campbell is a double agent, recruited by the Americans to relay secret messages hidden in his propaganda broadcasts So, he is protected after the war but not acknowledged for diplomatic reasons Returned to the United States, Campbell lives for fifteen years an open but shabby life in New York City on a private soldier s salary Outed by a Soviet agent, he is targeted not just by the Israelis, but also by old soldiers who can t understand what they fought and suffered for but believe that Campbell is the cause of their distress.Campbell realises that his participation in the creation of fake news requires a certain form of schizophrenia Therefore, he recognises somewhat too late, one must be very careful about what one pretends to be He equates his condition to the defective mechanism of the cuckoo clock from hell The clock occasionally tells the truth, but only unpredictably as its gears with missing cogs speed up or stop the works This mechanical analogy, Campbell says, refers to a mental illness, one which is passed from generation to generation He s right of course The fascist tendency is a familial and widespread cultural tradition which has power because it has persisted at least as long as the American republic There aren t just precedents, there are statutory requirements to support the idea of the conspiracy of the world against the American Way The Alien and Sedition Acts of 1798, the Jim Crow laws of the American South, the Espionage and Sedition Acts of 1918 It seems like the prototype of every American right wing populist lunatic from Huey Long to Father Coughlin finds his place somewhere in Mother Night Groups like The Iron Guard of the White Sons of the Constitution and Moral Rearmament would be ludicrous if they didn t exist But they do exist at precisely the nexus of religion and right wing ideology, with a little help from the Russians, that Vonnegut foresaw over a half century ago Today, these groups, as well as the Russians, seem to be in the ascendancy in the United States from the North Carolina Tea Party to the Neo Nazi Montanans, and not forgetting the Republican Party Campbell finds a kind of salvation in his own disillusionment One can only hope for similar personal revelations to the mass of Americans who have fallen for the latest version of fake news But this seems unlikely to Campbell, who notes that The dismaying thing about the totalitarian mind is that any given gear, though mutilated, will have at its circumference unbroken sequences of teeth that are immaculately maintained, that are exquisitely machined Check out Trump next time he smiles. Vastly underrated piece of black comedy, about a World War 2 double agent whose cover is a Nazi propagandist in the style of Lord Haw Haw Vonnegut says in the preface that this is the only one of his books where he knows what the moral is You are what you pretend to be, so be careful about who you pretend to be For my money, Vonnegut s second best book, running Cat s Cradle very close.It s not just me the great Doris Lessing also wrote once that she couldn t quite understand why this book wasn tfamous Her speculation was that the literary world simply refuses to take anything seriously that is first published in paperback Now that she s finally received the Nobel Prize, maybe people will listencarefully When most people think of Kurt Vonnegut, the novels Slaughterhouse Five and Cat s Cradle immediately come to mind It s a shame thatpeople aren t familiar with Mother Night, a novel in which Vonnegut explores the nature of moral ambiguity and what high minded ideals we sacrifice on the altar of war It s a skillful blend of Vonnegut s trademark dark humor and philosophical musings about human morality as observed through the lens of war To put it simply, this is some good stuff.Sitting in an Israeli jail and writing his memoirs, Howard Campbell awaits trial for war crimes as a Nazi in World War II As Howard himself says, I am an American by birth, a Nazi by reputation, and a nationless person by inclination 1 And this is the root of Howard s problem he has no true identity As he ruminates on his past, we see how the apolitical Howard was drawn into events that eclipsed the simple life he longed to live as an artist writing plays for his muse and wife, the lovely Helga Howard s situation is a unique one An American who moved to Germany as a child and seamlessly assimilated into German culture prior to any rumblings of war, Howard makes the perfect candidate for an American spy However, to remain above suspicion, Howard must align himself with the Nazi cause by pretending to be a Nazi propagandist, eventually becoming the voice of the Reich through his radio broadcasts Through a series of coughs, sneezes, and sniffs, Howard sends coded information out to the Americans at the same time he spews vile invective against the Jewish people.So what s the problem He was a good guy, right That s how it would normally be perceived, but as Vonnegut cautions, We are what we pretend to be, so we must be careful about what we pretend to be v Maintaining this dual identity weighs heavily upon Howard in the years after the war which robbed him of everything his family, his friends, his art, and his Helga Howard excelled as a propagandist so good, in fact, his father in law tells him that Howard, not Hitler and not Goebbels, convinced him to become a Nazi Howard s American handler even claims Campbell was one of the most vicious sons of bitches who ever lived 188 Knowing that it was his words and his voice that convinced so many to hate in the name of God is a guilt that Howard can never alleviate, especially given that his communications with the Americans never took the form of words He never knew what information he was passing on to the Americans, nor what, if any, good came from it In the end, he can never be certain if the good he did outweighed or at least balanced out the evil his words inspired in the hearts of men The question is, do pure motivations absolve heinous outcomes As Howard s past begins to catch up with him, he must confront these questions and try to determine who Howard Campbell has become in the shadow of war I think what is most intriguing about the novel is that Howard Campbell is the ultimate unreliable narrator A man who is skilled with words and at shaping the perceptions of others, it s important to remember that, in this metafiction, it is Howard Campbell writing his own life s story Even in the end we cannot be certain whether or not we come to know the real Howard Campbell as the resulting narrative may be Campbell s masterwork of propaganda rewriting his own history with an eye to posterity Howard Campbell may be a fiction created by the man himself, a constantly shifting personality recreating himself to fit the times in which he lives After all, we become what we pretend to be.Cross posted at This Insignificant Cinder Mother night, Kurt VonnegutMother Night is a novel by American author Kurt Vonnegut, first published in February 1962 The title of the book is taken from Goethe s Faust It is the fictional memoirs of Howard W Campbell Jr., an American, who moved to Germany in 1923 at age 11, and later became a well known playwright and Nazi propagandist The action of the novel is narrated through the use of metafiction by Campbell himself The premise is that he is writing his memoirs while awaiting trial for war crimes in an Israeli prison Howard W Campbell also appears briefly in Vonnegut s later novel Slaughterhouse Five 2001 1380 240 9789645512987 20 This is the best Vonnegut I ve read so far American Nazi Howard W Campbell, Jr is awaiting trial on war crimes A traitor to the American people, Campbell is responsible for the deliberate spread of damaging propaganda throughout Germany and its occupied territories during World War II He is an evil, dangerous man who is undoubtedly guilty of high treason.Or is he As the account of Campbell s life in Germany unfolds, much is revealed about his motives, the benign sequence of events leading to his becoming a member of the Nazi Party, and the identity of the actual organization from which he draws his paycheck United States intelligence So as it turns out, Howard W Campbell, Jr is a spy He is an American hero, wrongly accused and undoubtedly deserving of complete exoneration.Or is he The distinction here between villain and hero is a line that is wonderfully blurred by Vonnegut, who delivers his story with perfunctory prose and offers up one surprising twist after another until the novel s depressing conclusion Interestingly, Vonnegut introduces this story with a quote that comes to define Campbell and the ultimate moral of Mother Night perfectly We are what we pretend to be, so we must be careful about what we pretend to be. As an aside, I ve heard a lot of reviewers refer to Campbell as a double agent Although I m not exactly sure what qualifies for double agency, I do think it involves being a secret member of the secret organization you are trying to secretly infiltrateso you can learn their secrets So having cleared that up, I think it slikely that Campbell is just a plain old mole. What thethis surely wasn t penned by Kurt Vonnegut, right Where s that bizarre sci fi slant Where are those Tralfamadorians, or that confusing, time shifting narrative We aren t seriouslystuck in timefor the entire story here What about all those absurd characters No Kilgore Trout, Dwayne Hoover, or Billy Pilgrim Ah but some of these guys are pretty odd, and I couldn t help but notice a few references to Schenectady, New York That s all rather curious, but I m still not entirely convinced.I should point out that, while it is rather surprising to get a straight forward narrative from Mr Vonnegut, for the uninitiated, this may actually be his most accessible novel.Our narrator is Howard W Campbell Jr., an American awaiting trial in Israel for war crimes committed as a Nazi propagandist Howard was born in American, but moved to Berlin at a young age His early career is that of an author and playwright He eventually joins the Nazi party, in name only He sees himself as an American by birth, a Nazi by reputation, and a nationless person by inclination His only real loyalty is to that of his wife and theirNation of TwoAs he rises through the party, his recognition as an American Nazi leads him to become the voice of the Nazi propaganda broadcasts aimed at converting Americans to the cause.Howard claims to have been recruited as an American spy, but there s no proof to verify his claim His handler apparently used a fake name, and no one has ever seen the two together No government official will either confirm or deny the possibility Howard asks, Can I prove I was an American spy My unbroken, lily white neck is Exhibit A, and it s the only exhibit I have Even if that s true, how can it possibly balance the scales with all the horrible atrocities his words helped to propagate And here in lies the moral of the story, We are what we pretend to be, so we must be careful about what we pretend to be This is the struggle that weighs heavily on Howard Throughout the story, he s rescued from prosecution time and again by his handlerBlue Fairy GodmotherBut in the end he chooses to stand trial not as much for war crimes as for crimes against his own conscience.While this started off as a pretty solid three to four star read for me, the last quarter of the book is true genius The commentaries and philosophies presented therein are quite remarkable some of which border on poetry The analogy of the totalitarian mind as system of gears whose teeth have been filed off at random is particularly insightful I m not sure if this is my favorite Vonnegut I do miss some of his trademark wackiness but its right near the top 5 Stars all the way *READ PDF ⇶ Mother Night ✖ Mother Night Is A Daring Challenge To Our Moral Sense American Howard W Campbell, Jr A Spy During World War II, Is Now On Trial In Israel As A Nazi War Criminal But Is He Really Guilty In This Brilliant Book Rife With True Gallows Humor, Vonnegut Turns Black And White Into A Chilling Shade Of Gray With A Verdict That Will Haunt Us All In Stanley Kubrik s film, Full Metal Jacket, one of the most highlighted scenes is where the protagonist is asked to explain the peace symbol and Born to Kill slogan on his helmet His response I think I was trying to suggest something about the duality of man Cannot help but wonder if the writer for Full Metal Jacket had been thinking of Mother Night when he wrote that line One of the darker novels in Vonnegut s collection, but still with the humor and blithely irreverent tone that is his trademark, Mother Night asks a lot of questions and leaves many unanswered, inviting deep introspection for the reader and for our society as a whole. I m going to make an unpopular statement right now This is the best of Kurt Vonnegut s novels Okay Cat s Cradle and Slaughterhouse Five fans, fling your dung at me, I understand The characters, setting, plot, all of it comes together in a well wrapped tale in which a man fights the truth of his own identity under the pressing weight of the author s imposed moral law that states you are what you pretend to be In Mother Night, the story of an American spy working undercover within Germany during WWII as a Nazi propagandist, Vonnegut intentionally portrays his main character with so much ambivalence that by the end you re not sure whether to root for or against him Vonnegut s oft used theme, the struggle within, is at its strongest here where the main character is pitted against a real monster of an antagonist the preponderance of evidence against himself In other Vonnegut books I understand and sympathized with the self doubt his characters felt, but in some cases their struggles felt light to me I should add that I read most of the author s works when I was a fresh faced twenty year old with few cares in the world, so I don t think I understood his subject matter, that of the life wearied, often middle aged person whose accumulated weight of stress, daily concerns and self doubt brought on by crises endured through a life rife with experiences with horror, love, hate and, worst of all, ennui So perhaps one day, maybe when I turn 50, I will reread Player Piano and it will rocket from my least favorite to most favorite of all of Kurt Vonnegut s wonderful novels, but for right now Mother Night stays there.