Study Guide

Literary Precedents for Catch-22

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Catch-22 reveals the thorough acquaintance with modern literature of its author, a possessor of both a B.A. and an M.A. in English. The novel is modernist in its portrayal of an absurd universe, its black humor, its' fragmented time scheme, and its alienated protagonist. One writer who influenced Heller is James Joyce, whom Heller emulates in providing naturalistic details and in using the device of the epiphany, a scene depicting a character's moment of insight. Furthermore, Heller credits Joyce's characterization of Leopold Bloom in Ulysses (1914) with inspiring his own creation of Yossarian. Another modern writer who influenced Heller is Franz Kafka, with whom Heller shares an aversion to bureaucracies. The nightmarish trial scenes of Clevinger and the chaplain are particularly Kafkaesque. To William Faulkner, Heller attributes his structure, noting that he strove to present bits of information and then to connect them at the end of...

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This section contains 327 words
(approx. 1 page at 400 words per page)
Buy the Catch-22 Study Guide
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Catch-22 from Novels for Students. ©2005-2006 Thomson Gale, a part of the Thomson Corporation. All rights reserved.