Celebrating Banned Book Week with Kurt Vonnegut: “Der Arme Dolmetscher”

With “Der Arme Dolmetscher”, Kurt Vonnegut goes back to World War II, when the narrator becomes his outfit’s German interpreter or dolmetscher because he happens to know a song in German. All of the various attempts at translation provides for some great comedy.  It reminds me of the episode of MASH where Hawkeye teaches Korean men to say “Frank Burns eats worms”.

I could attempt to put a liitle bit of meaning behind this story and discuss the way it’s revealed that the German soldiers with which the Americans come in contact are doing the same thing with English that the narrator is doing with German and that Vonnegut is making the point that the Americans and Germans have more in common than they do differences and that humanity as a whole shouldn’t have to fight wars because we’re all really in the “same boat”.

But I would rather stick with the comedy.

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