Joseph Heller produced many works of literature throughout his lifetime; however, his most acclaimed novel, Catch-22, has become a cult class among readers throughout the world. Catch-22 is not a bland novel that invokes few emotions from its readers. It is a moving novel stacked full of many themes. These themes indubitably conjure up fear and mistrust of the system that seeks to destroy one's own life.
Joseph Heller was born on May 1, 1923, in the Coney Island section of Brooklyn, New York, to Russian-Jewish immigrants. His father Isaac (Pinsker 228), a bakery truck driver, died when Heller was only four years of age (Kaupunginkirjasta online). During World War II, Heller served as a bombardier for the United States Air Force and flew sixty bombing missions while stationed in Italy. This gave him the background for Catch-22 (Classic online). Specifically, while on a combat mission, Heller witnessed one of his fellow airmen die of wounds; this ultimately led to Heller's graphic portrayal of Snowden, a young airman in Catch-22, who dies a horrid death during a bombing run (Pinsker 383).
After being discharged from the Air Force, Heller enrolled in the University of Southern California and later transferred to New York University where he majored in English. Upon finishing his studies in New York, Heller attended Columbia University until 1949, when he received his Master of the Arts Degree in English (Pinsker 383). After receiving his degree, Heller went on to become a professor at Pennsylvania State University where he taught English for two years (Classic online). In 1961, after a series of jobs working for such magazines as Time and Look, Heller published Catch-22, which he had been working on since 1953(Classic online). After Catch-22 was published in 1961 (Kaupunginkirjasta online), Heller continued his writing career with Something Happened in 1974, Good as Gold in 1974, God Knows in 1984, Picture This in 1988, and Closing Time in 1994 (Pinsker 379). Although not as well received as Catch-22, Closing Time serves as a sequel to Catch-22 in which the heroes are described forty years after the original novel (Kaupunginkirjasta online). Sadly on December 3, 1999, Joseph Heller died of a heart attack at his home in Long Island, New York (Kaupunginkirjasta online). Heller's career and personality was best describe...
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Karl, Fredrick R. "Joseph Heller's Catch-22: Only Fools Walk in Darkness." Contemporary American Novelists. Ed. Harry T More. Illinois: Southern Illinois University Press, 1964. 134-142.
Kaupunginkirjasta, Kuusankosken. "Joseph Heller (1923-199)". Pegasos-Literature Related Sources. 2000. . 12 Oct. 2001.
Olderman, Raymond M. "The Grail Knight Departs." Riley 229-230.
Pinsker, Sanford. "Joseph Heller." American Writers. Ed. Litz, A Walton. Supplement 4, part 1. New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1996. 379-396.
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