11 October 2002
HELLER, Joseph (1923-1999). Catch 22. New York: Simon and Schuster, 1961.
8o. Original printed wrappers, title hand-lettered on spine (two small stains to upper cover, spine darkened). Provenance: M. Lincoln Schuster (presentation inscription, ownership inscription on front free endpaper).
ADVANCE COPY OF THE FIRST EDITION. PRESENTATION COPY, INSCRIBED BY HELLER TO THE PUBLISHER on front free endpaper: "I hope this book means as much to you as it has meant to me. Joseph Heller." Additionally inscribed: "This book comes from the desk of my stepfather, M. Lincoln Schuster..." M. Lincoln (Max) Schuster and Richard L. (Dick) Simon founder Simon and Schuster in 1924.
The title of this contemporary American novel has entered the language more seamlessly than any other. However, Catch 22 was not the book's original title. In the late '50s, when a chapter was published in the anthology New American Writing, Heller was calling the novel Catch 18. He only changed it to Catch 22 the following year when Leon Uris published his bestselling World War II novel Milo 18, beating Heller to the number and begetting a cliché destined to be with us for decades to come. The phrase is used to refer to the maddeningly circular logic used to deny leave on the grounds of insanity to the novel's anti-hero, Yossarian. The Doctor quotes the Catch 22, which states that a man "would be crazy to fly more missions and sane if he didn't, but if he was sane, he had to fly them. If he flew them he was crazy and didn't have to; but if he didn't, he was sane and had to."
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