Contrapuntal Lines: Nostalgia in Kurt Vonnegut’s Player Piano


The paper focuses on the modalities of nostalgia in a techno-saturated world. Nostalgia is a protean concept that maintains a strong relationship with technology. The latter can mediate, alleviate or trigger nostalgic feelings and discourses orientated not only towards the past, but also towards the present and the future. In this respect, this paper will investigate how nostalgia was used as a narrative tool by Kurt Vonnegut in his Player Piano at several important levels of the plot and how it becomes a character that acts obscurely in some key moments. Firstly, I will analyse the modalities through which nostalgia develops a subtle relationship with technology and progress. Secondly, I will examine how the occurrences of player piano work in the novel as clues that foreshadow the on-coming intrusion of this feeling in the current mood of the personages. Thirdly, I will discuss the nostalgia for humanity in the framework offered by postmodernism. The crisis of metanarratives does not drive nostalgia towards a simple past, but it steers it towards a set of petite histoires that blurs the temporal orientation of nostalgia.

Keywords: nostalgia, player piano, technology, postmodernism, simulacra, hybridity, postmodern humanism, Kurt Vonnegut, Player Piano

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