is a 1961 novel
by Joseph Heller
about the madness of war. Specifically, it follows Yossarian
and a number of other American airmen during World War II
, based on the island of Pianosa
, south of Italy
. (A magazine excerpt from the novel was originally published as "Catch-18," but Heller changed the title after another World War II novel, Leon Uris
's Mila 18
, was published.) Its pacing is frenetic, its tenor is intellectual, and its humor is largely absurdist -- but with grisly moments of realism interspersed.
Within the book, catch-22 is a military rule, the circular logic of which most notably prevents anyone from avoiding combat missions:
- One may only be excused from flying bombing missions on the grounds of insanity;
- One must request to be excused;
- One who requests to be excused is presumably in fear for his life. This is taken to be proof of his sanity, and he is therefore obliged to continue flying missions;
- One who is truly insane presumably would not make the request. He therefore would continue flying missions, even though as an insane person he could be excused from them for the asking.
Catch-22 also appears at other points in the novel to serve various other purposes. Among its provisions, one of the most macabre is quoted as stating that agents enforcing Catch-22 need not prove that Catch-22 actually has whatever provision the accused violator is accused of violating.
The phrase has become common to refer to any similar self-referential policy or any lose-lose situation.
Characters in the book
, Orr, Milo Minderbinder
, Chaplain Tappman, Huple, Hungry Joe, Kid Sampson, McWatt, Captain Black, Captain Flume, Chief White Halfoat, Colonel Cargill, Colonel Cathcart, Colonel Korn, Colonel Moodus, Corporal Whitcomb, General Dreedle, General Peckem, Lieutenant Nately, Lieutenant Scheisskopf, Major Danby, Major ---- de Coverley, Major Major Major Major, Major Sanderson, ex-PFC Wintergreen, Doc Daneeka, Gus & Wes, Pilchard & Wren, Nurse Cramer, Nurse Duckett, Dori Duz, Havermeyer, Luciana, Mudd, Snowden, Soldier in White, the Old Man in Rome, Nately's Whore, her Kid Sister, Snark, Stubbs, A. Fortiori, Kraft, Clevinger, Dobbs, Dunbar, Aarfy Aardvark
, Appleby and The Man Who Sees Everything Twice.
The sequel to Catch 22, Closing Time, was published by Joseph Heller in 1994.
Catch-22 is also a movie based on Heller's book, released in 1970 with a screenplay by Buck Henry. The cast included Alan Arkin, Art Garfunkel, Bob Newhart, Anthony Perkins, Paula Prentiss, Jon Voight, and Orson Welles. The film was directed by Mike Nichols. It was not regarded as a great success, earning less money and acclaim than MASH, which was released in the same year.