When the school board ordered the books to be confiscated, the students protested. If you and your board are now determined to show that you in fact have wisdom and maturity when you exercise your powers over the eduction of your young, then you should acknowledge that it was a rotten lesson you taught young people in a free society when you denounced and then burned books–books you hadn’t even read. The letter was included in his 1981 Palm Sunday – a collection of his previously unpublished short stories, letters, essays, etc…. Kurt Vonnegut’s Letter to Drake High School: ‘You Have Insulted Me’ ... Drake High School in North Dakota made headlines in October of 1973 when school board members burned 32 copies of Kurt Vonnegut’s Slaughter-House Five because … It is a strictly private letter from me to the people of Drake, who have done so much to damage my reputation in the eyes of their children and then in the eyes of the world. This battle was the first field army–level engagement in the Eastern Theater of the American Civil War to take place on Union soil. This extraordinary collection of personal correspondence has all the hallmarks of Kurt Vonnegut's fiction. Among the officers in the photo includes […], A Douglas Aircraft Company worker rivets a A-20 bomber at the plant in Long Beach, California in October 1942. It’s the stuff of Disney movies. And we all know, too, that those words really don’t damage children much. Written over a sixty-year period, these letters, the vast majority of them never before published, are funny, moving, and full of the same uncanny wisdom that has endeared his work to readers worldwide. It’s to a Mr. Charles McCarthy, head of the school board in Drake, North Dakota that in 1973 burned 32 copies of Vonnegut’s iconic novel Slaughterhouse-Five.. amzn_assoc_fallback_mode = {"type":"search","value":"History"}; On November 16, 1973, an angry and disappointed Vonnegut wrote to McCarthy to make his feelings known. On November 16, 1973, an angry and disappointed Vonnegut wrote to McCarthy to make his feelings known. In October of 1973, Bruce Severy — a 26-year-old English teacher at Drake High School, North Dakota — decided to use Kurt Vonnegut‘s novel, Slaughterhouse-Five, as a teaching aid in his classroom. Their admirable stance was ignored. A lawsuit was even threatened by the American Civil Liberties Union against the school board. amzn_assoc_linkid = "b4d6f028c649a54f3f73e082557b5521"; November 16, 1973 Dear Mr. McCarthy: I am writing to you in your capacity as chairman of the Drake School Board. Sources As regular readers will know, I’m a sucker for literary letters.Today’s find is another great one, more inspiring and moving than funny, from none other than the great Kurt Vonnegut. If you were to bother to read my books, to behave as educated persons would, you would learn that they are not sexy, and do not argue in favor of wildness of any kind. Axtmass, a Catholic priest, attended the school board meeting and told the board that he did not like certain parts of the book but was against the idea of burning it. Vonnegut writes how McCarthy’s decision is … The University of Chicago Magazine 5235 South Harper Court, Chicago, IL 60615 Phone: 773.702.2163 Fax: 773.702.2166 uchicago-magazine@uchicago.edu If you are an American, you must allow all ideas to circulate freely in your community, not merely your own. They didn’t damage us when we were young. We have declined to go on television, have written no fiery letters to editorial pages, have granted no lengthy interviews. In a career spanning over 50 years, Vonnegut published fourteen novels, three short story collections, five plays, and five works of nonfiction, with … A different view was held by Bruce Severy, a twenty-six-year-old English teacher at Drake High School, North Dakota, in 1973, who decided to use the novel as a teaching aid in his classroom, much to the delight of his students. I am among those American writers whose books have been destroyed in the now famous furnace of your school. Severy noted that the students seemed to enjoy it and “C and D students were suddenly writing A papers.” However, one student in particular took issue with the book’s bad language. There is a person who toils alone for years in relative obscurity before finally cracking the code to become a hero. amzn_assoc_tracking_id = "historybyzim8-20"; According to the American Library Association, Vonnegut’s novel met resistance (and still meets resistance) in libraries and is often challenged or censored by schools. Even your own children are entitled to call you that. Perhaps you will learn from this that books are sacred to free men for very good reasons, and that wars have been fought against nations which hate books and burn them. “It sounds too much like years past to me,” Axtmass told the Minot Daily News. Certain members of your community have suggested that my work is evil. Two of them are farmers. Author Kurt Vonnegut, shown in 1979 in New York City. amzn_assoc_enable_interest_ads = "true"; We’d do well […], The Pygmalion Effect is a powerful secret weapon. “Karene Duchsherer, who didn’t want to stop for her picture to be taken, is seen entering the school bus that she drove in 1973. My books are probably more widely used in schools than those of any other living American fiction writer. Topics: Literature. They beg that people be kinder and more responsible than they often are. In November 1973, 26-year-old Bruce Severy assigned Slaughterhouse-Five to his sophomore English students at Drake High School in Drake, North Dakota. Share the History Love…FacebookPinterestTwitterTumblrRedditStumbleUponDiggLinkedin. 22-Year-Old P.O.W. That is because people speak coarsely in real life. My books are probably more widely used in schools than those of any other living American fiction writer. I gather from what I read in the papers and hear on television that you imagine me, and some other writers, too, as being sort of ratlike people who enjoy making money from poisoning the minds of young people. I have never been arrested or sued for anything. This is extraordinarily insulting to me. I am writing to you in your capacity as chairman of the Drake School Board. I am among those American writers whose books have been destroyed in the now famous furnace of your school. McCarthy, who was the head of the School Board at Drake High school, had ordered the burning of 32 copies of the book because of the offensive language that is used throughout. Case in point: Vonnegut’s intermediary, Donald Farber, apologizes for the fact “that Mr. Vonnegut is unable to respond to your letter at this time. (250-300 words) Get an essay WRITTEN FOR YOU, Plagiarism free, and by an EXPERT! But it is also true that if you exercise that right and fulfill that responsibility in an ignorant, harsh, un-American manner, then people are entitled to call you bad citizens and fools. The news from Drake indicates to me that books and writers are very unreal to you people. . This is Vonnegut’s letter to Charles McCarthy (the school board president): November 16, 1973 Kurt Vonnegut's Letter To Drake High School: 'You Have Insulted Me' By Laura Hibbard Drake High School in North Dakota made headlines in October of 1973 when school board members burned 32 copies of Kurt Vonnegut's Slaughter-House Five because they found it "objectionable," the Minot Daily News reports. Rhetorical Analysis of Kurt Vonnegut’s letter to the Chairman of the Drake School Board. In addition, the school board ordered about 60 copies of Deliverance by James Dickey and copies of “Short Story Masterpieces,” an anthology including pieces by Ernest Hemingway and John Steinbeck, into the fiery inferno along with Vonnegut’s novel. And no copies of this letter have been sent to anybody else. Vonnegut closes his letter by stating that if Drake wishes to justify themselves, they must accept their fault and mistake and admit that “it was a rotten lesson [they] taught young people in a free society” by putting down and burning books they “hadn't even read.” American author Kurt Vonnegut was no stranger to censorship – especially with his 1969 semi-autobiographical novel Slaughterhouse-Five. I am a combat infantry veteran from World War II, and hold a Purple Heart. They have all turned out well. Photo Credit: Marty Reichenthal/AP/npr.org. That language, Severly purported is “out there in the real world.”. I am among those American writers whose books have been destroyed in the now famous furnace of your school. And we all know, too, that those words really don’t damage children much. Severly, the English teacher, was dismayed with the idea of any books being confiscated and burned. J.S. or for that affair related to Pilgrim or non. “We are angered and sickened and saddened,” he wrote at the time. It was finally decided that Slaughterhouse-Five can be taught to Drake’s junior and senior classes. I am so much trusted with young people and by young people that I have served on the faculties of the University of Iowa, Harvard, and the City College of New York. Still curious? Their admirable stance was ignored. I have raised six children, three my own and three adopted. Here is the letter Kurt Vonnegut wrote to their school board (lettersofnote.com) 284 More: Hero , Drake High School , Kurt Vonnegut , Lists of American writers , Purple Heart How Expectations Influence Performance Many people believe that their pets or children are of unusual intelligence or can understand everything they say. The head of the school board, Charles McCarthy, had other ideas, however: He demanded that all thirty-two copies be burned in the school’s furnace. We have declined to go on television, have written no fiery letters to editorial pages, have granted no lengthy interviews. You now hold the only copy in your hands. “Kurt Vonnegut talks back to book ban,” Lakeland Ledger, June 27, 1982. His conscionable rage ranges far — all the way to Drake, North Dakota, in a 1973 letter to an anti-Vonnegut school chairman: “If you were to bother to read my books, to behave as educated persons would, you would learn that they are not sexy, and do not argue in favor of wildness of any kind. I want you to know, too, that my publisher and I have done absolutely nothing to exploit the disgusting news from Drake. His powerful letter failed to generate a reply. The book begs the reader to come up with a workable answer.”  Severly alleged that many of the school board members did not actually read the book before deciding its fate. We are angered and sickened and saddened. Vonnegut's letter to the chairman of the school board in Drake, North Dakota, which follows, as well as Kurt Vonnegut's exchange with Felix Kuznetsov, a Soviet Writers Union official, over the persecution of writers in the USSR, come from Kurt Vonnegut's latest book, Pabn Sunday (Jonathan Cape, 1981), and are reprinted here with permission. Do you have the courage and ordinary decency to show this letter to the people, or will it, too, be consigned to the fires of your furnace? We are not clapping each other on the back, crowing about all the books we will sell because of the news. Despite his eccentricities, Kurt Vonnegut was a rather pragmatic guy. With this phrase Vonnegut is able to set a inactive turn on decease. This is a moral book. In 1973, he reportedly contacted Drake High School in North Dakota after it burned 32 copies of his book Slaughter-House Five. A protest letter made its way around the school and sophomore Pam Schnase said, “We think it’s respectable and interesting, and better than what we’ve been reading.” Rev. After I have said all this, I am sure you are still ready to respond, in effect, “Yes, yes–but it still remains our right and our responsibility to decide what books our children are going to be made to read in our community.” This is surely so. You should also resolve to expose your children to all sorts of opinions and information, in order that they will be better equipped to make decisions and to survive. We are angered and sickened and saddened. amzn_assoc_ad_mode = "auto"; I have earned whatever I own by hard work. Kurt Vonnegut’s Powerful 1973 Letter to the Man Burning his Books, Douglas Adams on our Reactions to Technology Over Time. I gather from what I read in the papers and hear on television that you imagine me, and some other writers, too, as being sort of ratlike people who enjoy making money from poisoning the minds of young people. Shawn Usher beautifully sets the context in Letters of Note: An Eclectic Collection of Correspondence Deserving of a Wider Audience: Since first being published in 1967— and despite being considered one of the great modern novels—Kurt Vonnegut’s time-hopping, semiauto-biographical, antiwar classic, Slaughterhouse-Five, has been and continues to be banned from classrooms and libraries the world over. But it is also true that if you exercise that right and fulfill that responsibility in an ignorant, harsh, un-American manner, then people are entitled to call you bad citizens and fools. “So it goes. amzn_assoc_default_category = "All"; President Lincoln is shown with General George B. McClellan and other officers of Army of the Potomac at the Battle of Antietam in September 1862. On occasion, the victims of censorship take the opportunity to face their censors directly. This is due to what is often described by those who censor it as its “obscene” content. Learn more about the project here. Of course, we all have moments when we’re alone and something suddenly clicks. They have all turned out well. Vonnegut emphasizes what seems to go a motive throughout the book. It was evil deeds and lying that hurt us. The news from Drake indicates to me that books and writers are very unreal to you people. Tags: Kurt Vonnegut Years ago when I was a producer in television, I recall that there were many discussions on how broadcasters could encourage younger viewers to have brand loyalty with a particular channel. After I have said all this, I am sure you are still ready to respond, in effect, “Yes, yes— but it still remains our right and our responsibility to decide what books our children are going to be made to read in our community.” This is surely so. Every year I receive at least a dozen invitations to be commencement speaker at colleges and high schools. Stop me if this sounds familiar. In this article, discover how expectations can influence performance for better or worse. Kurt Vonnegut Jr. (/ ˈ v ɒ n ə ɡ ə t /; November 11, 1922 – April 11, 2007) was an American writer. . Kurt Vonnegut’s letter to high school students: ‘Pretend you’re Count Dracula!’ 10.06.2014. Vonnegut, himself, was outraged over the events at the school and wrote a letter to Drake’s school board. Some people […], The Great Mental Models Volumes One and Two are out. Kurt Vonnegut's Letter to Charles McCarthy In October of 1973, Bruce Severy — a 26-year-old English teacher at Drake High School, North Dakota — decided to use Kurt Vonnegut's novel,Slaughterhouse-Five, as a teaching aid in his classroom. I am so much trusted with young people and by young people that I have served on the faculties of the University of Iowa, Harvard, and the City College of New York. Vonnegut wrote to McCarthy and his letter can be enjoyed below. Well, you have discovered that Drake is a part of American civilization, and your fellow Americans can’t stand it that you have behaved in such an uncivilized way. Especially soldiers and hardworking men speak coarsely, and even our most sheltered children know that. It was evil deeds and lying that hurt us. Share the History Love…FacebookPinterestTwitterTumblrRedditStumbleUponDiggLinkedin, American troops guarding an armored car with wireless and Signal Tower attached in practice maneuvers on July 18, 1918. ” This phrase encompasses every decease in the novel. The final sentence has immense power. I have raised six children, three my own and three adopted. Do you have the courage and ordinary decency to show this letter to the people, or will it, too, be consigned to the fires of your furnace? Kurt Vonnegut (November 11, 1922–April 11, 2007) has given us some of the most timeless advice on the art and craft of writing — from his 8 rules for a great story to his insights on the shapes of stories to his formidable daily routine.But hardly anything examines the subject with a more potent blend of practical advice and heart than Vonnegut’s 1985 essay “How to Write … amzn_assoc_placement = "adunit0"; If you were to bother to read my books, to behave as educated persons would, you would learn that they are not sexy, and do not argue in favor of wildness of any kind. Without even realizing it, we can nudge others towards success. Mar 30, 2012 - In October of 1973, Bruce Severy — a 26-year-old English teacher at Drake High School, North Dakota — decided to use Kurt Vonnegut’s novel, Slaughterhouse-Five, as a … Dear Mr. McCarthy: I am writing to you in your capacity as chairman of the Drake School Board. Slaughterhouse-Five, or The Children's Crusade: A Duty-Dance with Death is a science fiction infused anti-war novel by Kurt Vonnegut, first published in 1969.It follows the life and experiences of Billy Pilgrim, from his early years to his time as an American soldier and chaplain's assistant during World War II, to the post-war years, with Billy occasionally traveling through time. This is extraordinarily insulting to me. 08:33 am. You should also resolve to expose your children to all sorts of opinions and information, in order that they will be better equipped to make decisions and to survive. Perhaps you will learn from this that books are sacred to free men for very good reasons, and that wars have been fought against nations which hate books and burn them. As the situation progressed, Severly held steadfast to his position that the book should not have been burned. It deals with a moral question that we as humans have been trying to deal with for time immemorial. I’m among those American writers whose books have been destroyed in the now famous furnace of your school. Many of the letters display Vonnegut's distinctive verbal slapstick, but in a 1973 letter to Charles McCarthy, chairman of the Drake School Board in Drake, North Dakota, Vonnegut got serious. First-principles thinking is one of the best ways to reverse-engineer complicated problems and unleash creative possibility. amzn_assoc_region = "US"; amzn_assoc_ad_type = "smart"; Hosted by Pressable. Every year I receive at least a dozen invitations to be commencement speaker at colleges and high schools. I have never been arrested or sued for anything. She complained to her mother who, along with another student’s mother, went to the school board. Vonnegut, himself, was outraged over the events at the school and wrote a letter to Drake’s school board. We are not clapping each other on the back, crowing about all the books we will sell because of the news. Not only did he craft geometric equations for the shapes of stories, but he also applied letter … On November 16, 1971, Kurt Vonnegut wrote a letter to Charles McCarthy condemning his actions regarding the burning of his book "Slaughterhouse-five". It was her daughter Kim who complained about the language in “Slaughterhouse-Five” that started a controversy over the book in the fall of 1973 at Drake High School.” Photo Credit: Minot Daily News, The Drake Public School Board members voted and ordered the books to be taken from the students (they were only a third of the way through it) and burned in the school’s coal burner. Certain members of your community have suggested that my work is evil. However, he did want me to acknowledge the receipt of your letter and thank you for your interest in his work.” Boldness: 8.5 Originality: 4.0 Response Rate: 2.3. Mar 20, 2014 - American author Kurt Vonnegut was no stranger to censorship – especially with his 1969 semi-autobiographical novel Slaughterhouse-Five. I have earned whatever I own by hard work. Well, you have discovered that Drake is a part of American civilization, and your fellow Americans can’t stand it that you have behaved in such an uncivilized way. Even your own children are entitled to call you that. See our Privacy Policy.Farnam Street participates in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising commissions by linking to Amazon. Vonnegut, who passed away in 2007, was no stranger to writing letters to high schools. His powerful letter failed to generate a reply. On November 9, 1975, the Minot Daily News ran the headline: “Books at Drake Burned by School Board” and quoted the school board president Charles McCarthy as saying, “We didn’t approve of its obscene language. It is true that some of the characters speak coarsely. I read in the newspaper that your community is mystified by the outcry from all over the country about what you have done. I want you to know, too, that my publisher and I have done absolutely nothing to exploit the disgusting news from Drake. Read Hunter S. Thompson on living a meaningful life, Eudora Welty’s amazing cover letter to The New Yorker, and Sol LeWitt on the power of doing. I lived there for about four years and then moved to Bells Texas. This is Vonnegut’s letter to Charles McCarthy (the school board president): I am writing to you in your capacity as chairman of the Drake School Board. If you use information from here please give History By Zim the proper credit. Again: you have insulted me, and I am a good citizen, and I am very real. The author of this letter? [From the lovely website Letters of Note comes the memory of this, a letter sent on November 16, 1973 to the Chairman of the Drake, North Dakota, School Board by the late author Kurt Vonnegut. In October of 1973, Bruce Severy — a 26-year-old English teacher at Drake High School, North Dakota — decided to use Kurt Vonnegut’s novel,Slaughterhouse-Five, as a teaching aid in his classroom. Especially soldiers and hardworking men speak coarsely, and even our most sheltered children know that. I am writing this letter to let you know how real I am. And no copies of this letter have been sent to anybody else. In this lesson, students read Kurt Vonnegut's "I Am Very Real," written to the head of the Drake, North Dakota school board in response to the burning of 32 copies of Slaughterhouse-Five. I read in the newspaper that your community is mystified by the outcry from all over the country about what you have done. I am in fact a large, strong person, fifty-one years old, who did a lot of farm work as a boy, who is good with tools. To get down. I love the part where Vonnegut explains he is a combat veteran with a purple heart. Just discovered this 1973 letter from Vonnegut to the chairman of a school board that had taken to burning his books because they found them offensive.. Dear Mr. McCarthy: I am writing to you in your capacity as chairman of the Drake School Board. Two-day lesson includes: Full text of Vonnegut's letter in a visually appealing two-page PDF (with room in margins for annotation) That books and writers are very unreal to you in your capacity as chairman of the characters speak.! About all the books we will sell because of the American Civil War to take place on Union.. 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