Electronic Thesis and Dissertation Repository


Master of Arts


Comparative Literature


Luca Pocci


This thesis is an exploration of the concept of kitsch in two prominent novels of the twentieth century: Milan Kundera’s The Unbearable Lightness of Being and Kurt Vonnegut’s Slaughterhouse-Five. Kundera in his novel offers a debate on kitsch, tracing it back to its original metaphysical meaning. In Vonnegut’s novel, there is no direct discussion of kitsch. However, both the style of Vonnegut’s novel and the world he depicts in and through the novel are imbued with kitsch and kitsch elements. The thesis offers a general overview of the concept of kitsch in the introductory chapter. The first chapter then aims to show how kitsch could be an attitude or behaviour influencing the characters’ lives. The second chapter, provides analysis on how kitsch contributes to the narrative fabric of Vonnegut’s novel and to the fictional world of Billy Pilgrim. Both these novels can help us explore the multiple and complex expressions of kitsch, the threat it poses, and the necessity it imposes.