by Heller, Joseph
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Palm Beach, Florida
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About This Item
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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- First Edition
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- Morocco is a style of leather book binding that is usually made with goatskin, as it is durable and easy to dye. (see also... [more]
- clamshell box
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- 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]
- Another of the terms referring to page or book size, octavo refers to a standard printer's sheet folded four times, producing... [more]