Skip to comments.Freeper Reading Club Discussion: "From Here To Eternity"
Posted on 01/12/2003 2:39:55 PM PST by PJ-Comix
The Freeper Reading Club now stands at 131 members which makes it (I believe) the LARGEST Reading Club on the Internet. Actually it may be the LARGEST Reading Club anywhere.
Anyway, I hope that most of our 131 members read the current assignment, From Here To Eternity by James Jones. This is perhaps the GREATEST novel ever written. I think it qualifies for THE Great American Novel. Many of you might not know this but most of the characters in this book (and in James Jones' other novels) were based on REAL people. The minor character of Slade (the Army Air Corps soldier) was based on James Jones himself (Jones transferred from the Air Corps to the regular infantry while stationed in Hawaii.)
I'll post more about all this as the discussion continues so post away your comments about this book. Oh, and if anybody else wants to join the Freeper Reading Club, Freepmail me and I'll put you on the Ping LIst.
One thing about the book that didn't ring true to me, being that James Jones based this on actual events, was the apparently common practice of befriending homosexuals in town to "scam them" or "string them along" for money, free drinks, etc. In the book, there were a lot of soldiers doing this and during one investigation, two entire truckloads of soldiers who were thought to be fraternizing with homosexuals were brought in for questioning and the soldiers treated the whole thing like a joke.
I can tell you that when I was in the service, nothing of the sort was tolerated. If a Marine "got a boyfriend off base" even as a ruse to rip the homosexual off, he would be quickly turned in by his fellow Marines and run right out of the Corps.
I'll have a lot more to say about this book as the thread progresses (don't want to shoot my whole wad at once).
Hang on P-J! The 'perhaps' should have been the word capitalized.
Actually someone else just joined so you make it 131.
Maybe it was the time and place. Remember, back then a soldier's pay was really horrible so it isn't unreasonable for the soldiers to scam the homos for money. In the book, they tried to get money from them WITHOUT going all the way. Since this part of the book was highly detailed, I am sure that Jones himself was pulling just such a scam while in the military. Also Jones almost ALWAYS based events in his novels to things he has seen or participated in. I did a thorough research of his Go To The Widowmaker and the closeness of the facts to the events in the books was astonishing. Almost a perfect match.
Oh, and from reading this book and others by Jones, I am sure he was an alcoholic. However, since this did not seem to affect his writing (although it did cause an early death), I don't hold this against him.
p.s. A starting point for research on whether there were big homo investigations in Hawaii circa 1941 is to check out the FBI's Freedom of Information files.
So what's your nominee?
Not really. Limit access to women by a large group of soldiers and you expect them to behave like Boy Scouts? This part of the book was neither surprising nor disappointing. Just realistic.
As far as his writing style: This book actually began as a series of stories by Jones about pre-War army life in Hawaii. Also, fortunately, Jones kept extensive notes while in the Army. Since the character of Slade is based on Jones, you might notice that Slade also carried around a notepad and pencil although this was not a common practice in the army.
Then there are a number of British and French novels, plus Italian Eco's "Name of the Rose" and "Foucault's Pendelum". But everyone has their own opinion.
He would get aggitated if one talked of Sgt Warden as a hero; he felt that it was B/S to publically elevate any 1st SGT who 'allegedly' had an affair with an officer's wife [much less his commander].
Jack Malloy is my favorite character in the book. He is his own man and extremely intelligent but in the military environment, he just doesn't fit in. Ironically, many of the characters in the book who were perceived by the officers as "screw-ups" would have made the best soldiers in wartime. This is something that SSgt Warden seemed to realize. His relationship with Prewitt is interesting. One one hand, Warden respected Prewitt as a potentially great soldier but on the other hand, hated him for who he was and happily went along with Captain Holmes efforts to break him.
During my time in Marine boot camp, I served briefly on guard duty for the brig (they called it "Correctional Platoon"). The conditions there are much as described in the book. Those men go through hell. I remember how they had to wake up and completely disassemble their "racks" (bunk beds) and stack the rails up against the wall. At the end of the workday (usually digging ditches or doing other scut work), they would have to reassemble them. Sometimes the Sgt. on duty would take a handful of bolts and throw them across the room after they left for the day, adding to the confusion that evening when the poor guys had to put their racks back together again.
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