pilgrim ii

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Aliens, Time Travel, and Dresden - Slaughterhouse-Five Part I: Crash Course Literature 212

In which John Green teaches you about Kurt Vonnegut’s most famous novel, Slaughterhouse-Five. Vonnegut wrote the book in the Vietnam era, and it closely mirrors his personal experiences in World War II, as long as you throw out the time travel and aliens and porn stars and stuff. Slaughterhouse-Five tells the story of Billy Pilgrim, a World War II veteran who was a prisoner of war, and survived the Battle of the Bulge and the fire-bombing of Dresden, goes home after the war, and has trouble adapting to civilian life (this is the part that’s like Vonnegut’s own experience). Billy Pilgrim has flashbacks to the war that he interprets as being “unstuck in time.” He believes he’s been abducted by aliens, and pretty much loses it. You’ll learn a little about Vonnegut’s life, quite a bit about Dresden, and probably more than you’d like about barbershop quartets as a metaphor for post traumatic stress.

What must the King do now? Must he submit?
The King shall do it. Must he be deposed?
The King shall be contented. Must he lose
The name of king? A God’s name, let it go.
I’ll give my jewels for a set of beads,
My gorgeous palace for a hermitage,
My gay apparel for an almsman’s gown,
My figured goblets for a dish of wood,
My sceptre for a palmer’s walking-staff,
My subjects for a pair of carved saints,
And my large kingdom for a little grave,
A little, little grave, an obscure grave;
Or I’ll be buried in the King’s highway,
Some way of common trade where subjects’ feet
May hourly trample on their sovereign’s head,
For on my heart they tread now whilst I live,
And buried once, why not upon my head?
—  King Richard II of England
Richard II (III. 3. 143 - 159)