Jones, James: From Here to Eternity
(researched by Deidre Downs)

Assignment 1: Bibliographical Description
1 First edition publication information (publisher, place, date, etc.)
The first edition was published by Charles Scribner's Sons in New York on February 26, 1951.
2 First edition published in cloth, paper, or both? If both, simultaneous or staggered?
The first edition is published in cloth.
3 JPEG image of cover art from first edition, if available
4 Pagination
The pagi
nation consists of 440 leaves; [i-xii], [1-2], 3-96, [97-98], 99-220, [221-222], 223-402, [403-404], 405-677, [678-680], 681-861.
5 Edited or Introduced? If so, by whom?
The first edition is neither edited nor introduced.
6 Illustrated? If so, by whom?
The first edition is not illustrated.
7 JPEG image of sample illustration, if available
8 General physical appearance of book (Is the physical presentation of the text attractive? Is the typography readable? Is the book well printed?)
The typography is clear a
nd neat, with the text placed in good proportion to the size of the page; the typography is easily readable with adequate margins. The quality of the printing is good, as the text is well aligned on every page.
9 JPEG image of sample chapter page, if available
10 Paper (Assess the original quality of the paper used for the book. Is the paper in the copy or copies you examined holding up physically over time?)
The paper is off-white in color and is
smooth and flat. The paper is of good quality and holding up physically over time, though the page edges are not cleanly cut and fray slightly.
11 Description of binding(s)
The book is bound in blue pebbled cloth, and its spine is stamped in gold as follows: |FROM|HERE|TO|ETERNITY|
(rule) |JONES|SCRIBNERS|. The pages are bound in gold and white stitching.
12 Transcription of title page
|FROM|HERE TO|ETERNITY|BY|JAMES JONES|NEW YORK|CHARLES SCRIBNER'S SONS|1951|
13 JPEG image of title page, if available
14 Manuscript Holdings
The author's original manuscript is held in the University of Illinois Library. The Barrett
Collection of Alderman Library at the University of Virginia holds page proofs of the book.
15 Other (typograpical information from title page, etc.)
The presentation edition of the book is identical to the first edition except that it contains an additional leaf following the title page, on which the author'
s signature appears. This leaf is thinner and slightly smaller than the other leaves. The title page of the first edition contains no illustrations or rules.
Assignment 2: Publication and Performance History
1 Did the original publisher issue the book in more than one edition? If so, briefly describe distinguishing features of each (illustrations, cover art, typography, etc.); if not, enter N/A
N/A
2 JPEG image of cover art from one subsequent edition, if available
3 JPEG image of sample illustration from one subsequent edition, if available
4 How many printings or impressions of the first edition?
The first edition was reprinted seven times, in 1954, 1957, 1962, 1964, 1966, 1967, and 1970, from a set of duplicate plates. Advance copi
es of the first edition in bound proof were distributed in 1950.
5 Editions from other publishers? If so, list their dates and publishers; if not, enter N/A
The second edition was published in 1952 by Collins and was reprinted eighteen times from 1952-1971. Signet published the third edition in 1953 and twenty-four subsequent printings from 19
53-1972. The fourth edition was published in 1959 by Fontana and was reprinted twelve times from 1959-1973. Editions have also been published by Dell Publishing (1991 and 1999), Delacorte Press (1980), and Avon Books (1978).
6 Last date in print?
The book is currently in print; its most recent edition was published in 1999 by Dell.
7 Total copies sold? (source and date of information?)
By 1975, 3,351,400 copies were sold.
8 Sales figures by year? (source and date of information?)
In its first year in print (1951), 240,000 copies were sold.
9 Advertising copy (transcribe significant excerpts, briefly identify where ads were placed)
Unknown.
10 JPEG image of sample advertisement, if available
11 Other promotion
Columbia Pictures produced eight different post
ers to promote its film version of the book; the posters depict different scenes from the movie.
12 Performances in other media? If so, list media, date, title, production information; if not, enter N/A
A motion picture of the same title was released in 1953 by Columbia Pictures, with screenplay by Daniel Taradash. The film has also been released on home vi
deo and videodisc. The book was dramatized in the play STOCKADE by Mark J. Appleman in 1952.
13 Translations? If translated, give standard bibliographic information for each translation. If none, enter N/A
The book has been translated into French, Spanish, German, Hungarian, and Russian.
14 Serialization? If serialized, give standard bibliographic information for serial publication. If none, enter N/A
The book was not serialized.
15 Sequels/Prequels? Give standard bibliographic information for each. If none, enter N/A
There are no sequels or prequels to the boo
k.
Assignment 3: Biographical Sketch of the Author
1 Paste your biographical sketch here (maximum 500 words)
James Jones was born on November 6, 1921, the son of Ramon and Ada Jones, in the rural Illinois town of Robinson near the Indiana border (Contemporary Authors). While Jones's family had acquired some wealth and
prestige in the oil business, as a dentist Ramon was unable to sustain the family's fortune and reputation during the Depression. This fact, coupled with James's having to wear glasses and his physical immaturity as a child, created numerous social ba
rriers for him; he soon became a fighter and had behavior problems throughout his school years, despite his high intelligence and impressive test scores. Because of the family's financial situation, James was encouraged to join the Army rather than atte
nd college, and he enlisted in 1939 (Garrett 39). Jones began his five-year stint in the Army in New York, but with the increasing tension in the Pacific as World War II raged on, he was sent to Hawaii and stationed there in the Army Air Corps (Contemporary Authors). Jones scored so highly on Army Air
Corps tests that he was encouraged to enroll in Officer Candidate School after his transfer to the infantry in 1940, when he was stationed at Schofield Barracks, the setting of his first novel, From Here to Eternity. Peacetime gave Jones much free time t
o pursue boxing and to read widely, and it was during this period that Jones decided to become a writer after reading Thomas Wolfe's Look Homeward, Angel. Throughout the summer and fall of 1942, Jones studied creative writing part-time at the University
of Hawaii and wrote occasional poems and stories (Garrett 50). After Pearl Harbor was attacked and the war in the Pacific escalated, the 27th Infantry and Jones's F Company were sent to Guadalcanal in 1943 (Garrett 59). Jones's novel The Thin Red Line, the second book of his World War II trilogy, reflects his exp
eriences in the campaign. Jones was wounded in Guadalcanal after being hit in the head by shell fragments, an injury which turned out to be superficial. He was finally transported to a hospital back in the United States and soon received an honorable di
scharge, leaving Jones free to pursue his writing career (Contemporary Authors). After attending New York University in 1945, Jones began work on a novel called They Shall Inherit the Laughter, which Maxwell Perkins at Scribner's promptly rejected. Harry and Lowney Handy, enthusiastic patrons who had met Jones during his con
valescence, encouraged the writing of his first novel, From Here to Eternity, which Scribner's published in February 1951. His editor Burroughs Mitchell also gave Jones an advance on his next novel, Some Came Running, a novel about small town life which
was published in 1958. For much of the 1950's, Jones lived in Marshall, Illinois and, along with the Handys, founded the Handy Colony for writers. In 1957, Jones married Gloria Mosolino; they later had two children, Kaylie and Jamie (Garrett). The next year, Jones and his wife moved to Europe, living first in London and then settling in Paris while he wrote The Pistol and The Thin Red Line. After beginning his novel Go to the Widow-Maker in 1964, Jones broke with Scribner's and signed
with Dell Books, who published The Ice-Cream Headache and Other Stories, The Merry Month of May, and A Touch of Danger. Jones returned to the United States in 1974 and became a visiting professor and writer at Florida International University and then mo
ved to Long Island in 1975. Two years later, Jones suffered congestive heart failure and died May 9, 1977; the last novel of his World War II trilogy, Whistle, was published posthumously in 1978 (Garrett).
Assignment 4: Reception History
1 Paste contemporary reception history in here (maximum 500 words)
A clear dichotomy of opinion arose in response to the novel, though nearly all critics, as well as the public, recognized it as a grim, realistic, and even brutal portrait of a soldier's life during World War II.
The majority of critics perceived the book as an intense, though nonetheless ingenious, work which indicated promise in the fledgling novelist Jones. In a 1951 issue of the Saturday Review of Literature, Ned Calmer wrote, "For the non-squeamish adult t
his is the best picture of Army life ever written by an American, a book of beauty and power despite its unevenness, a book full of the promise of great things to come." David Dempsey of the New York Times similarly extolled the realism of the work and t
he manifest talents of Jones, "From Here to Eternity is the work of a major new American novelist?[it is] apparent that in James Jones an original and utterly honest talent has restored American realism to a pre-eminent place in world literature. However
, many critics underscored the novel's brutality as indicative not of Jones's talent, but rather of his bitterness. The critique by Riley Hughes of Catholic World reflected this sentiment: "the total effect, flat and without nuance or value is not 're
al.' Here?is the humorless polemic of a mind embittered." Similarly, John Lardner of the New Yorker wrote that it was "a slovenly, ferocious book. If it is also the most realistic?it's because the English language is capable of absorbing, and condonin
g, a good deal of abuse from a man who has something to say and wants very desperately to say it." These reviewers also belittled Jones's writing style and the mechanics of his prose, claiming that these elements of his writing clearly illustrated his t
rue lack of talent as a novelist. In The Nation, Ernest Jones described it thus, "The prose alone should make it impossible to take seriously." Therefore, while many contemporary critics and the public regarded the novel as an exceptional, powerful work
for its intensity and realism, a significant contingent of reviewers perceived these elements as indication of weakness both in style and content. Contemporary reviews: C.J. Rolo in Atlantic (March 1951), Riley Hughes in Catholic World (June 1951), Brian Roberts in Christian Science Monitor (19 March 1951), Ernest Jones in Nation (17 March 1951), Gene Baro in the New York Herald Tribune (25 February
1951), David Dempsey in the New York Times (25 February 1951), John Lardner in the New Yorker (10 March 1951), Ned Calmer in Saturday Review of Literature (24 February 1951), Paul Pickrel in Yale Review (Spring 1951)
2 Paste subsequent reception history in here (maximum 500 words)
A clear dichotomy of opinion arose in response to the novel, though nearly all critics, as well as the public, recognized it as a grim, realistic, and even brutal portrait of a soldier's life during World War II.
The majority of critics perceived the book as an intense, though nonetheless ingenious, work which indicated promise in the fledgling novelist Jones. In a 1951 issue of the Saturday Review of Literature, Ned Calmer wrote, "For the non-squeamish adult t
his is the best picture of Army life ever written by an American, a book of beauty and power despite its unevenness, a book full of the promise of great things to come." David Dempsey of the New York Times similarly extolled the realism of the work and t
he manifest talents of Jones, "From Here to Eternity is the work of a major new American novelist?[it is] apparent that in James Jones an original and utterly honest talent has restored American realism to a pre-eminent place in world literature. However
, many critics underscored the novel's brutality as indicative not of Jones's talent, but rather of his bitterness. The critique by Riley Hughes of Catholic World reflected this sentiment: "the total effect, flat and without nuance or value is not 're
al.' Here?is the humorless polemic of a mind embittered." Similarly, John Lardner of the New Yorker wrote that it was "a slovenly, ferocious book. If it is also the most realistic?it's because the English language is capable of absorbing, and condonin
g, a good deal of abuse from a man who has something to say and wants very desperately to say it." These reviewers also belittled Jones's writing style and the mechanics of his prose, claiming that these elements of his writing clearly illustrated his t
rue lack of talent as a novelist. In The Nation, Ernest Jones described it thus, "The prose alone should make it impossible to take seriously." Therefore, while many contemporary critics and the public regarded the novel as an exceptional, powerful work
for its intensity and realism, a significant contingent of reviewers perceived these elements as indication of weakness both in style and content. Contemporary reviews: C.J. Rolo in Atlantic (March 1951), Riley Hughes in Catholic World (June 1951), Brian Roberts in Christian Science Monitor (19 March 1951), Ernest Jones in Nation (17 March 1951), Gene Baro in the New York Herald Tribune (25 February
1951), David Dempsey in the New York Times (25 February 1951), John Lardner in the New Yorker (10 March 1951), Ned Calmer in Saturday Review of Literature (24 February 1951), Paul Pickrel in Yale Review (Spring 1951)
Assignment 5: Critical Analysis
1 Paste your critical analysis in here (maximum 2500 words)
James Jones emerged as a promising American writer with his first novel From Here to Eternity, published in 1951. The novel is an extensive study of a soldier's life in the peacetime army, and Jones infused thi
s structural framework with the protagonist Prewitt's individualistic struggles against the stifling institution that was the pre-World War II army. The novel evoked such a sharp emotional response in readers because of its graphic brutality, sex, and l
anguage, yet it transcended mere shock value by virtue of its universality, a sense among its readers that the book not only reflected Jones's experiences but also somehow paralleled their own. In addition to the novel's sheer emotional power, its succ
ess also hinged on America's fresh memories and experiences from World War II. Although the novel is set just prior to the bombing of Pearl Harbor and does not actually depict World War II combat, the fact that every facet of American life had been touc
hed by the war augmented the public's receptiveness to such a story. Furthermore, numerous other bestsellers of the late forties, both fiction and nonfiction, had addressed this subject and thus paved the way for the book's success; the subsequent rele
ase of the film version two years after the book's publication also contributed to its enduring popularity. Thus, the success of From Here to Eternity and its status as a bestseller was contingent upon such factors as postwar publishing trends, the char
acter of the contemporary American public, and the novel's realism and universality.
The changing nature of book publishing in the postwar era significantly impacted subsequent novels, including From Here to Eternity. Book publishing by this time had become a mass market, and the publishing industry evolved to meet this new demand. Dur
ing World War II, the War Production Board set standards restricting the use of paper, a circumstance that clearly did not impede the emergence of many new publishing houses and the expansion of existing ones. An important component of this development w
as book club publishing, the primary factor responsible for the explosive increase in hardcover sales both during and after the war. The Council on Books in Wartime also contributed to the growing success of the publishing industry, as it distributed ove
r 1000 titles to personnel in the armed forces and directed book publication for recently freed civilians overseas. Moreover, with the advent of the five-day working week, more people had leisure time to devote to reading and increasingly sought books as
entertainment, creating a huge demand for the medium. The American public's exposure to books was also heightened by the booming motion picture industry, which frequently based its films on bestsellers and therefore contributed to books' popularity an
d sales (Bowker). Publishing magnate Schuster acknowledged this trend, "People see American literature processed, stylized, syndicated, serialized, Hollywoodized, networked, televisioned, merged and high-pressured" (qtd. in Bowker). All of these factors
enabled the publishing boom of the postwar years, a development from which Jones's novel benefited.
Another publishing trend was an increasing number of bestsellers based on World War II settings and experiences, reflecting a market demand which Jones seized on with his From Here to Eternity. Seven of the top ten nonfiction bestsellers of 1944 treated
the subject of war. On the fiction list for the same year appeared two war books, W. Somerset Maugham's The Razor's Edge and John Hersey's A Bell for Adano. In 1946, the annual bestseller list included three nonfiction works based on the war, while
no war-related novels surfaced in the fiction category. Two years later, books on the war had emerged once again on the fiction list, among them Norman Mailer's highly praised The Naked and The Dead, capturing second place on the annual list. Irwin Sha
w's The Young Lions held tenth place on the bestselling fiction list, representing another war-based novel to achieve popularity. Similarly, the nonfiction list of 1948 included several accounts of the war years, such as Eisenhower's Crusade in Europe
and Churchill's The Gathering Storm. In 1949, two of the bestselling works of fiction utilized the backdrop of war, John Hersey's The Wall and Ernest Hemingway's Across the River and Into the Trees, novels which occupied the fourth and third spots, re
spectively. Therefore, in the late forties, ten books about World War II achieved bestseller status in either the fiction or nonfiction category, demonstrating the American public's interest in the subject. However, even Norman Mailer's popular novel
failed to secure the number one position on the list, a spot that Jones captured in 1951 with From Here to Eternity, selling 240,000 copies. War-based novels also occupied the second, sixth, and seventh spaces that year (Hackett 142-155). The success of
earlier novels with a World War II background not only reflected America's interests but also set a precedent for such works, at least partially enabling the success of Jones's first novel.
The postwar trend of the motion picture as marketing tool for the book was also exemplified in the success of From Here to Eternity. Columbia Pictures released the movie version of the bestseller in 1953, a year after the publication of the paperback ed
ition. Writing the film's screenplay proved especially difficult in light of the graphic nature of the novel's language and content, as the film would have to satisfy the censorship standards of Hollywood's Breen Office. Jones was initially the write
r for the screenplay, though he soon succumbed to the very different demands of screenplay writing from that of novel writing, yielding the job to Daniel Taradash on the condition that he preserve the story's integrity with regard to the characters and t
he ending. The movie was immensely successful, grossing in its first year nearly $80 million (MacShane 132). The film's casting was an integral component of its success, with such stars as Burt Lancaster, Frank Sinatra, Donna Reed, and Deborah Kerr. A
t the Academy Awards, the film won eight Oscars including Best Picture and Best Actor. Thus, the film enjoyed enormous popularity and achieved renown for James Jones, in addition to amplifying demand for the novel (128). Consequently, From Here to Etern
ity continued its upward climb in sales, reaching over three million by 1975 (Hackett 156).
As reflected by the success of earlier war novels and particularly by From Here to Eternity, the American public harbored significant interest in the subject of World War II. The war effected changes across the spectrum of American life, and people's ex
periences of this period were still fresh and memories still painful. Novels based on this subject were thus very relevant to contemporary America. Men had served in the armed forces and could identify with characters like Robert E. Lee Prewitt in From
Here to Eternity, and those without actual involvement in the war had still experienced its effects through the lives of family members or friends. In the case of From Here to Eternity, even those who had fought in the war could not fully relate to the e
xperiences of the book's characters, for this novel examines the lives of enlisted soldiers whose career is the army, placed in a peacetime setting. However, the army backdrop appealed to former enlisted men interested in an account of a soldier's life
prior to the war. This receptiveness of the American public to books based on the recently concluded war finds a parallel in the sales trends of similar European books after World War I, one of which was Erich Maria Remarque's All Quiet on the Western
Front (Bowker). These books achieved such tremendous success primarily because of their appeal to people's experiences in these wars and to people's continued emotional involvement through their memories. Therefore, the success of From Here to Eternit
y derived largely from its timeliness and relevance of subject to the character of contemporary America.
Also crucial to the book's success was its realism, an element that simultaneously shocked and appealed to readers. Paul Pickrel in the Yale Review described it as "a book that will offend many readers; it contains several sensational situations and en
ough impolite language to make it unpublishable by the standards of even a decade ago" (Book Review Digest 453). While explicit language to this degree was certainly unprecedented, it nonetheless contributed to the book's power and thus its appeal to re
aders, as Robert P. Jordan of The Washington Post acknowledged: "It is Jones' faithful reporting, of which these words are a part, that gives the novel its extreme and, at times, terrible realism. It, too, is Jones' deep understanding of the Army and
the men in it that makes the novel human and appealing" (Garrett 101). Life magazine alluded to the book's graphic language in a play on words in an article entitled, "From Here to Obscenity," reflecting the public's shock at such content. Particularl
y controversial was Jones's frequent use of a word which even Norman Mailer had euphemized with "fug" (96). Therefore, Jones's attempt to present his characters realistically in their setting is apparent through this element of language, and this quali
ty enhanced the novel's effect on readers.
Violence is portrayed just as explicitly in several instances in the novel, specifically the stockade scene, and sex is presented throughout the book as an integral part of the plot. The characterization of the two main characters, Prewitt and Warden, i
s largely dependent upon their sexual relationships. Warden's affair with his commanding officer's wife and Prewitt's relationship with a prostitute are key elements of the plot; the men realize their desire for a deeper relationship with the women on
ly after basing these relationships on sex, an occurrence which is central to Jones's demonstration of the nature of soldiers' interactions with women (MacShane 110). Thus, while the severity of language and the depiction of violence and sex in the nov
el shocked readers in the 1950's, these elements provided a realism which enhanced its appeal.
Moreover, From Here to Eternity achieved bestseller status because of its ability to appeal to a diversity of readers. The novel was widely successful in part because of its link to World War II, but it also received critical acclaim from academic sourc
es. Jones's focus on the lives of enlisted men like Prewitt rather than the officer class clearly emphasized the plight of the underdog and symbolized the proletariat, attracting interest among the intellectual left. Furthermore, many literary academic
s praised the novel, extolling its merits as both a piece of serious literature and one of popular fiction. This group also emphasized the simple structural framework of the book and its treatment of Prewitt's character in his individualist struggle aga
inst an imposing institution (Garrett 97). For these reasons, From Here to Eternity transcended the bounds of typical popular literature with its success among academics.
The most significant factor responsible for the novel's mass appeal, however, was the universality of its characters and ideals. Prewitt, a mere private, harbors great ambition and adheres to his own strict personal standards, a characterization which
is coupled with his archetypal quest in the novel, rendering him an Everyman character with which the reader can identify. Prewitt and his fellow enlisted men are clearly underdogs who endure oppression in the merciless institution of the Army. Jones's
central theme is the struggle between individual will and society, symbolized by Prewitt's fierce individualism and Warden's practical demands. Prewitt defies the Army through his refusal to box under his company commander, exemplifying this individua
lism which ultimately results in his own destruction. Warden, however, understands the realistic demands of the Army and thus tolerates the injustices that he perceives as inherent, a jadedness into which Prewitt could never lapse (MacShane 112). Jones
later explained this theme when he wrote,
"the Army had an infallible way of destroying its own best advocates and adherents. The type of which Prewitt was one are almost always the best examples of real combat soldiers?[yet] these very characteristics and ideas which made them the best possible soldiers in combat are the very same things which always threw them into conflict with authority out of combat?I think that had Prewitt lived, and continued to live, he would have eventually become a Warden. That would mean compromising on his part, and the only alternative was death" (qtd. in MacShane 111).
This theme of individual will in conflict with societal demands has universal appeal, confronting the reader with aspects of his own aspirations. Consequently, the novel's success depended on these elements of theme and characterization.
James Jones's bestselling novel From Here to Eternity achieved such tremendous success as a result of contemporary circumstances and its own universal qualities. A postwar publishing boom proved beneficial for the book, as well as the positive and wide
spread reception enjoyed by previous novels that addressed a similar subject. Moreover, the release of a major motion picture based on Jones's novel also increased its popularity and boosted sales in subsequent years. Equally crucial to the book's suc
cess was the American public's recent experience in World War II, heightening interest in the subject of a soldier's life in the peacetime Army. While the novel was frequently decried as brutal and explicit, these qualities in fact appealed to a divers
e audience of readers who were moved by its realism and power, and who identified with the struggle of an individual against the demands of society. Thus, these factors served to ensure the bestseller status of From Here to Eternity.
Works Cited: 1. Book Review Digest, 1951. 2. Bowker. A History of Book Publishing in the U.S. 3. Garrett, George. James Jones. Harcourt Brace, 1984. 4. Hackett. Eighty Years of Bestsellers. 5. MacShane, Frank. Into Eternity: The Life of James Jones, American Writer. Houghton Mifflin, 1985.
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