Sunday, April 3, 2011

"Harrison Bergeron" by Kurt Vonnegut

"Harrison Bergeron" by Kurt Vonnegut (1961, 10 pages)

Kurt Vonnegut (1922 to 2007-USA) was one of the most popular post WWII novelists.    He wrote such highly regarded best selling works as The Breakfast of Champions, Slaughter House Five, and Cat's Cradle.    Long ago, I read all his major novels.  

I was very happy to recently find a short story by Vonnegut online.    "Harrison Bergeron" is a science fiction a  story about the future of  the USA.    It is written in a very simple kind of matter of fact style.    I think it could be read by and used as class room material for children 12 and above but it is by no means a children's story.

"Harrison Bergeron" is set in a future American where everyone by law is equal to every one else, not just equal in theory or in law but in fact equal.    If  woman has the unfair advantage of being beautiful, she must wear a bag over her head.    If someone is above average in intelligence an implant is placed in their brain which can detect advanced beyond the normal  processes.    This implant  can cause severe pain if one tries to think above the average level.

We never learn how or why this came about.    We do not learn who is running things.     We do know that whoever figured out how to do the brain implants was themselves using way above average intelligence in pursuit of social goals.    

There is a big action scene at the end and I will not spoil it.    

You can read it online here.

Mel u


  1. This sounds like a must-read story--at least to me! Thanks for providing the link. :)

  2. Just a note to let you know about a book blog I’ve started with a different twist: “Writing Kurt Vonnegut.” Every Saturday, I post another excerpt from my notebook as Vonnegut’s biographer— profiles of the people I met, the difficulties encountered, and the surprises, such as finding 1,500 letters he thought he had lost forever. It’s a blog written in episodes about being a literary detective.

    Perhaps you’d like to give it a look at

    All the best,

    Charles J. Shields
    And So It Goes: Kurt Vonnegut, A Life (Holt, November 2011)

  3. Suko-thanks as always for your comments

    Charlesjsheilds-I just checked out your blog-I entered and e mail subscription and will look forward to your process on your biography on Vonnegut and would be proud to review it upon completion

  4. KV is on my enormous list of writers to read. I'm really interested in reading Slaughterhouse Five, mostly because it is so frequently challenged, it really has my interest piqued!

  5. Thanks for the link, mel c! I'll be reading this, I love Vonnegut!

    And also thanks for the link to your blog, charlesjshields, I'll be checking that out, too. :)

  6. Sorry, I wasn't signed in correctly, that last comment was by me.

  7. mummazappa-thanks very much for your visit and comments-Slaughter House Five is a great novel

    sondra v.-hope you enjoy the story

  8. Cat's Cradle and Slaughterhouse five is in my radar. Heard so much about Kurt Vonnegut. Definitely must read his books one day!

  9. fantastic short story. Note the deep seeded irony and satire, and consider the seemingly apparent message of the story in regards to the political and social ideologies of Kurt Vonnegut.

  10. MouseColored-thanks very much for your insightful comment


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