God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater
Cover of first edition (Hardcover)
|Publisher||Holt, Rinehart and Winston|
|Media type||Print (Hardcover & Paperback)|
God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater, or Pearls Before Swine, is a novel written by Kurt Vonnegut, Jr., published in 1965. The plot focuses on Eliot Rosewater, the primary trustee of the philanthropic Rosewater Foundation, whom one of the family lawyers, Norman Mushari, is attempting to have declared insane, in order for a distant relative, Fred Rosewater, an insurance salesman from Rhode Island, to gain control.
As the opening of the book explains, this is a story where the leading character is Money.
The Rosewater Foundation was founded by United States senator Lister Ames Rosewater of Indiana to help Rosewater descendants avoid paying taxes on the family estate in Rosewater County, Indiana. It is operated by a large legal firm in New York and provides an annual pension of $3.5 million to Eliot, the senator's son.
Restless, Eliot goes through the list of things philanthropists do to help the poor, and eventually sets out across America, going from small town to small town, before landing in Rosewater and setting up shop. He calls Rosewater home after becoming a volunteer firefighter in numerous cities across the U.S. This, along with his drunkenness, his generous relationship with the poor in Rosewater, and his odd relationship with his French wife, make him appear a bit crazy. Norman Mushari, a conniving lawyer, is determined to prove him insane so he can reroute a portion of the Rosewater fortune to himself, while transferring it to unwitting distant Rosewater cousins in Rhode Island.
Norman Mushari Jr., presumed son of Norman Mushari, is found in Vonnegut's novel, Slapstick, where, in similar fashion, he persuades his client to seek restitution from her family for mistreatment. Both Musharis admittedly do it for the large cut of the profits gained by helping people inherit their wealth.
At one point Norman Mushari Jr. visits the mansion of the Rumfoords in Newport. The Rumfoords feature prominently in Vonnegut's Sirens of Titan.
The novel was adapted as a musical in 1979, marking the first collaboration of composer Alan Menken and lyricist Howard Ashman. It first premiered Off-Broadway at the WPA Theatre and then the Entermedia Theatre in 1978. The cast consisted of Ed VanNuys (Thurmond McAllister), Jonathan Hadary (Norman Mushari), Frederick Coffin (Eliot Rosewater), Janie Sell (Sylvia Rosewater), John Towey, Will Hussung, Alan David -Little, Anne Desalvo, Charles C. Welch, Elizabeth Moore, Peter J. Saputo, Holly Villaire, David Christmas, Pierre Epstein, Judy Sabo, Marianne Sanazaro, and John Scoullar.
In 2003, the musical had a concert as part of CooperArts series at the Cooper Union, produced and curated by Howard Stokar. The music is by Alan Menken, book and lyrics by Howard Ashman, and additional lyrics by Dennis Green. The concert was directed by Peter Flynn, musical directed by Jimmy Roberts. The show starred Jim Walton (Mr. Rosewater), Carolee Carmello (Mrs. Rosewater), David Pittu (Norman Mushari), Kevin Free, Bambi Jones, Kirk McDonald, and Robin Skye.
In 2009, Audible.com produced an audio version of God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater, narrated by Eric Michael Summerer, as part of its Modern Vanguard line of audiobooks.