James Jones: The Limits of Eternity

James Jones: The Limits of Eternity

by Tony J. Williams


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James Jones played many roles, including short story writer, social critic, and war novelist. His most famous work, From Here to Eternity (1951), spent 20 weeks atop the New York Times bestseller’s list, won the National Book Award, was adapted into an Academy Award-winning film, and was named one of the 100 best novels of the twentieth century by the Modern Library. Despite this and the success of his other novels, Some Came Running (1957) and The Thin Red Line (1962), Jones is widely forgotten today.

In James Jones: The Limits of Eternity, literary scholar Tony J. Williams examines the significance of Jones’s work not only for its nuance and daring subject matter but also for its widespread popularity. In his assessment of Jones’s catalog, Williams reveals an incisive novelist who offered groundbreaking interpretations of masculinity, sexuality, gender, and identity. Williams contends that Jones should be recognized as far more than just a popular war novelist, but also as a humanitarian and literary pioneer, particularly in probing gender and queer issues.

A quintessentially American novelist, Jones was never afraid to look openly at the flaws of his society, examine how it could adversely affect individual victims, and tacitly suggest possible alternatives. He recognized the presence of gays and lesbians in American culture during an overtly repressive time, which makes his work relevant to many areas of contemporary criticism. Demonstrating his significant contribution to contemporary American literature, James Jones: The Limits of Eternity will be of interest to scholars of war narratives, gender studies, and literary studies.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781442272408
Publisher: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc.
Publication date: 08/15/2016
Series: Contemporary American Literature Series
Pages: 298
Product dimensions: 6.30(w) x 9.00(h) x 1.10(d)

About the Author

Tony J. Williams is professor of English at Southern Illinois University, Carbondale. He is the author of several books, including Body and Soul: The Cinematic Vision of Robert Aldrich (Scarecrow, 2004) and Hearths of Darkness: The Family in the American Horror Film, Updated Edition (2014).

Table of Contents

Preface: In the Beginning ix

Acknowledgments xvii

Introduction xix

1 From Here to Eternity: The Lure of Reincarnation and the Dominance of History 1

2 The Illusion of Transcendence in Some Came Running 43

3 Prelude to War and Beyond: The Pistol and The Thin Red Line 87

4 Masculinity and its Discontents: Go to the Widow-Maker 115

5 Two Novels of Generation Crisis: The Merry Month of May and A Touch of Danger 141

6 Concepts of War Past and Present: WWII and Viet Journal 175

7 Whistle: The End of it All 197

Conclusion: Beyond Eternity into History 225

Epilogue: Why James Jones Is Important for Us Today 229

Bibliography 263

Index 269

About the Author 273

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