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CATCH-22 by  Joseph Heller - Signed First Edition - 1961 - from 19th Century Rare Book and Photograph Shop (SKU: Biblio227)


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by Heller, Joseph

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  • hardcover
  • Signed
  • First
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About This Item

Heller on the origin of the title "Catch-22". FIRST EDITION. Inscribed and signed by Heller: "To Jim Pepper: Who might be interested to know that if not for a novel by Leon Uris called Mila 18, this copy of Catch-22 would be Catch-18. Best wishes Joseph Heller 9/20/78." Heller planned to call the novel Catch-18, but his editor, Robert Gottlieb, warned that best-selling novelist Leon Uris was about to publish Mila 18. As an alternative, Gottlieb suggested Catch-22, and the term became part of our everyday language. For Heller and Uris, both of whom were Jewish, the number 18 had special meaning. The Hebrew number 18, yud-het, uses the same letters as the word for life, het-yud. For this reason, donations to Jewish charities and gifts for special occasions are commonly made in multiples of 18, and the number is traditionally associated with good fortune and vitality. A wonderful inscribed copy of this modern classic.


Catch-22 is Joseph Heller’s first novel and his most acclaimed work. Set during World War II, the novel uses a distinctive non-chronological third-person omniscient narration, mainly focusing on the life of Captain John Yossarian, a U.S. Army Air Forces B-25 bombardier. Occasionally, the narrator also shows us how other characters, such as the chaplain or Hungry Joe, experience the world around them. As the novel’s events are described from the different points of view through separate out-of-sequence storylines, the timeline of Catch-22 develops along with the plot. The novel's title refers to a plot device that is repeatedly invoked in the story. Catch-22 starts as a set of paradoxical requirements whereby airmen mentally unfit to fly did not have to, but could not actually be excused. By the end of the novel, the phrase is invoked as the explanation for many unreasonable restrictions. “Catch-22” has since entered the English language and can be understood as an unsolvable logic puzzle, a difficult situation from which there is no escape. Upon publication, the book was not a best seller in the United States. It was merely a cult favorite until the publication of the paperback edition in 1962, which set record sales — most likely benefitting from a national debate about the pointlessness of the Vietnam War. Catch-22 has since been ranked as one of the 100 best English-language novels of the 20th century by the Modern Library, one of the 20th century's top 100 novels by the Radcliffe Publishing Course, and one of the 100 greatest novels of all time by The Observer. 

Read more: Identifying first editions of CATCH-22


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book dealer
19th Century Rare Book and Photograph Shop US (US)
Bookseller’s Inventory #
Heller, Joseph
Book condition
second hand
Jacket condition
Quantity available
1st Edition
Simon and Schuster
Place of Publication
New York
Date Published

Terms of Sale

19th Century Rare Book and Photograph Shop

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About the Seller

19th Century Rare Book and Photograph Shop

Seller rating:
This seller has earned a 5 of 5 Stars rating from Biblio customers. member since 2011
Stevenson, Maryland
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About 19th Century Rare Book and Photograph Shop

Important books, manuscripts, and photographs representing mankind's greatest achievements.


Some terminology that may be used in this description includes:

When a book is described as being inscribed, it indicates that a short note written by the author or a previous owner has been... [more]
First Edition
In book collecting, the first edition is the earliest published form of a book. A book may have more than one first edition in... [more]

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