Bacon, Paul. Hard Cover. New York: Simon & Schuster, 1961. First Edition. Near Fine / Dust Jacket Included.
First edition, first printing. Signed and inscribed by Heller to front free endpaper: "To --- / Sincere good wishes. / Joseph Heller". Publisher's light blue cloth, lettered in white to spine, top edge stained red; in the original dust jacket designed by Paul Bacon. A near fine copy with some light toning to extremities and fading to top edge of boards, faint smudge near Heller's inscription; in a very good dust jacket with light fading to spine, some wear to extremities and a some loss to the bottom right corner of the rear panel. Overall, a handsome copy. Considered one of the greatest novels of the 20th century, Catch-22 is a satirical text that tells the story of United States Air Force Captain John Yossarian during World War II. Heller coined the term "Catch-22," a paradoxical situation in which a given problem's solution is inherently denied by the nature of the problem. In this novel, the "catch-22" is Yossarian's enrollment in the Army; in order to be discharged, a soldier must be proven insane, but, by completing the discharge application, one essentially proves his or her own sanity. Based on Heller's own experience in the Air Corps, Catch-22 combines realistic depictions of war scenes with satirical paradoxes that border on the unreal. As Orville Prescott agrees in his 1961 review for The New York Times, "Catch-22 is realistic in its powerful accounts of bombing missions with men screaming and dying and planes crashing. But most of Mr. Heller's story rises above mere realism and soars into the stratosphere of satire, grotesque exaggeration, fantasy, farce and sheer lunacy." Paul Bacon is a prolific American illustrator and dust jacket designer, best known for his "Big Book Look." His dust jacket design for Catch-22 is exemplary of this style, with large prominent text accompanied by a small, conceptual design. Interestingly, Bacon described the Catch-22 jacket as his "most difficult," since he created over 10 designs before making the final illustration. Other notable dust jackets include Kurt Vonnegut's Slaughter-House Five (1969), William Styron's Confessions of Nat Turner (1967), and Ken Kesey's One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest (1962). In total, Bacon has designed jackets for over 5,000 books.