Laughing at the end of the world: Cat's cradle and Galapagos

Burcu Kayisci

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter (Book)Researchpeer-review


As its literal meaning suggests, apocalypse claims to unveil or reveal the end of the world and the end of history, through representation of a crisis that will culminate in the triumph of good over evil, to be succeeded by the promise of eternal bliss. The claim to represent infinitude in orderly fashion and to imagine the end as chaos makes it, is not only one of the most challenging, but also one of the most appealing, kinds of narrative. American author Kurt Vonnegut can be seen to utilise apocalyptic discourse in a number of his novels. This article will focus on two texts, Cat s Cradle (1963) and Galapagos (1985), in both of which Vonnegut endeavours to imagine the end of the world through the exposure and critique of human destructive potential. The apocalyptic and the comic are generally conceived as irreconcilable. But Vonnegut incorporates an important comic element into his apocalyptic vision, so as to reinsert human agency into history. Drawing on the ideas of critics such as Kenneth Burke and Stephen O Leary, the comic interpretation of the myth of apocalypse will be examined.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationYesterday's Tomorrows: on Utopia and Dystopia
EditorsPere Gallardo, Elizabeth Russell
Place of PublicationNewcastle upon Tyne UK
PublisherCambridge Scholars Publishing
Pages31 - 43
Number of pages13
ISBN (Print)9781443855884
Publication statusPublished - 2014

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