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Heller on the origin of the title "Catch-22"


New York: Simon and Schuster, 1961

Original cloth and dust jacket. Fine.

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.