Kurt Vonnegut (1922-2007)

Lo scambio di lettere tra Kurt Vonnegut ed Earl Kemp


Già che stavamo parlando di Kurt Vonnegut, e visto che l’anniversario della sua morte è ormai prossimo, ho pensato di proporvi lo scambio completo con Earl Kemp, cui ho già accennato qui.

Non fosse altro, queste poche righe danno un’idea chiara di che tipo d’uomo fosse Vonnegut.

Allora, Kemp pone quattro domande:

Do you feel that magazine science fiction is dead?

Do you feel that any single person, action, incident, etc., is responsible for the present situation? If not, what is responsible?

What can we do to correct it?

Should we look to the original paperback as a point of salvation?

Domande a cui Vonnegut risponde così:

Nobody killed science fiction. Science fiction is not dead. More money will be spent on stories with science in them during the next year than in any year in history will be spent by magazines, television, radio, book publishers, movies, and even Broadway.

So what is the beef?

The pulp writers can’t make a living any more? Tant pis. They made intelligent readers want to throw up.

Anybody who announces that he is a science fiction writer is announcing that he is in damn bad company financially and artistically.

You are trying to conduct a post-mortem without a corpse. I would love to provide you with one. I would love to see the expression science fiction butchered this very minute in order that stories with science in them not be identified, in the minds of intelligent readers, with pulpers, beginners, and hacks.

Qualche tempo dopo, Vonnegut riceve il paper di Kemp, lo legge e decide di aggiungere qualcosa:

Thanks for the handsome present…My own contribution to Who Killed Science Fiction? was irresponsible, and I’m sorry for it. What it expressed more than anything else was my own isolation. I don’t know anybody else in the field, not even fans, and so I tend to think of the field as something far far away and belonging to strangers. That is self-pitying thinking without merit…There seems to be fair agreement as to what the best pieces of work in the field have been. It might be interesting to make a list of those best pieces, a hundred of them, say—and, after each title, to name the thing most attacked, the thing most praised, and, in the barest possible terms, the intended moral. You might discover in that way the spiritual basis of the almost crazy affection many intelligent people have for the artificial category of writing known as science fiction… All the shoptalk by ink-stained wretches leads nowhere. Underneath all that shoptalk something very important spiritually may be going on. I hope so…

Non so come la vediate voi, ma  il passaggio dalla furia della prima risposta (“I would love to see the expression science fiction butchered this very minute…”) alle scuse nella lettera successiva (“What [my own contribution] expressed more than anything else was my own isolation”) apre una splendida finestra sul mondo interiore di Vonnegut e sul suo rapporto con il genere.