29 June 2005
HELLER, Joseph (1923-1999). Catch 22. New York: Simon and Schuster, 1961.
8o. Original bright blue cloth; dust jacket (a tear and chip on rear panel); morocco folding case with morocco onlays on spine. Provenance: Al Ross (presentation inscription from the author).
FIRST EDITION OF THE AUTHOR'S FIRST BOOK, PRESENATION COPY, inscribed by Heller during the year of publication to a colleague on the front free endpaper: "To Al Ross-- With all good wishes, and with sincere gratitude and affection for your hopes for my success. Joe Heller November 2, 1961 McCall's."
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."
While signed copies of Catch-22 appear occasonally, copies inscribed during its year of publication are particularly rare.
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