Never-before-seen letters Kurt Vonnegut wrote to his first wife have been collected and published in a new book edited by the Slaughterhouse-Five author’s daughter, Edith Vonnegut.
Love, Kurt: The Vonnegut Love Letters, 1941-1945, released earlier this month by Random House, features a collection of letters Vonnegut wrote to his first wife, Jane. The letters, first discovered 10 years ago by the couple’s eldest daughter in the attic of the family’s home in Massachusetts, provide a revealing glimpse into Vonnegut’s marriage and life as a husband.
“It showed a side of him that was beautifully developed and in love and not writing for money or fame,” Edith Vonnegut told the IndyStar last month, ahead of the book’s release. “They’re beautiful; they just complement the man so much, so very much.”
While the vast majority of the letters collected in the new book were written by Vonnegut to his wife, one letter from Jane to her husband was recovered, revealing the role she played in Vonnegut’s early writing career.
“I always knew you could Write– but suddenly I am finding out that you seem automatically to Know technical details about form and exposition, and so forth, that most people have to spend years reading books and taking correspondence courses to find out,” Jane wrote in the letter.
According to Edith, Jane once thought she’d be a writer, but put aside her ambitions to encourage her husband’s career, editing and submitting some of his earliest short stories to agents.
“It was very clear in the letters that my mother played a much bigger role than I had ever known in encouraging him, editing him,” Edie told the IndyStar. “I wanted to shine a light on that for my mother.”
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