Joseph Heller, interview

Para los que queremos escuchar a los grandes autores ésta es una oportunidad única, una entrevista a Joseph Heller. Se puede escuchar la entrevista y leer la transcripción. ¡Muy bueno!

Joseph: It gives me immense pride of course at this late date, and I can feel a sense of personal pleasure every time I hear the phrase or see the phrase. And it did emerge in the course of writing the first novel Catch 22 in which things are very hard to make sense of, particularly in a war situation and a post-war situation, Catch 22 is really a post-war novel and most of the attitudes and confusions that appear in it occurred to me as a result of conditions after the war, rather than my own experience in the war. I've forgotten your question, but I'm proud of having written Catch 22, I'm proud of the phrase, and the phrase becomes used more and more frequently as time goes on, which indicates there is a timelessness to the term and to the situation that made Catch 22 so relevant.
Ramona: Did you always find throughout your life, even when you were growing up in Coney Island before you joined the army, did you find life absurd then? Did you find you had a vision of life that was different from other peoples', did you find it ridiculous?
Joseph: It would be very instructive and impressive to say yes, but the answer is no. I don't know what I was thinking of before I began writing Catch 22. I do think my personality, like yours and like everybody's, doesn't change much with the years, we are who we are very early. But without consciously dwelling on the meaning of life I was pretty much the way I am, I always had what would be called the sense of humour, wisecracking, practical jokes, always a kind of perverse way with the wisecracks and jokes. I didn't think much about society, I didn't think much about anything then as a child. There was not that much to think about.
Even in the army I didn't think much about politics, I didn't even recall hating the Germans even when they were shooting at me. It wasn't until after the army when I was 22 years old and began attending college that I began thinking critically. But the humour was there and when I recall some of my early short stories - a few were published a few weren't -- many of the elements that found their way into my later work were already present, a fusion of the realistic, the level politically with the fantastic. The real and the fantastic are frequently blended together in short stories.
Ramona: Although you said in your book Now and Then that the short stories you were writing when you were studying literature after the war in this period were plotted extravagantly, I'm quoting you now, and often were resolved miraculously by some kind of ironic divine intervention on the side of the virtuous and oppressed. So what happened to your outlook and your sensibility that evolved, if we can used a Darwinian term, into a book where the exploiters triumph, the good and deserving get nothing, the Milo minder benders get everything?
Joseph: What happened is that my attitudes evolved in a Darwinian sense, and realism is realism, and what happens does happens, and what does happen in life is that the virtuous usually do not triumph, and those who are triumphant usually lack virtue, too often they lack conscious, and it's the difference between being very young and having a belief in the miraculous, and being a little mature and educated and knowing there is no such thing as the miraculous.
Ramona: But there must have been a point, because we're talking about you've been to the war, you've come back, you've started to go to college, you've had all those experiences that shaped your growing up, your maturing into a man from a boy, and something has happened from the moment that you're writing those short stories and suddenly this vision, this darkness comes upon you.
Joseph: I don't think so. The darkness present in the short stories fiction has to deal with somebody in trouble, and it ends happily, although even short stories, my short stories it did not end happily. What happened with Catch 22, my subsequent novel, is to move away from the fictitious cloud what we think of an extravagance fictitious clouding, and come closer to realism, reality of life, and to rely more on the stylistic approach to fiction than on the unusual content -- the miraculous ending, the happy ending.
I do think in all my books you'll find my sympathies are still with the oppressed, the exploited, and my antipathies are towards those who are selfish and egotistical and who disregard the problems of heroes or my sympathetic characters. I don't think those attitudes have changed, I think what did occur was a maturing of my attitude toward fiction, or what fiction should be, or could be…
Ramona Koval (born 1954) is an Australian broadcaster, writer and journalist. Her parents were Yiddish-speaking survivors of The Holocaust who arrived in Melbourne from Poland in 1950.
wisecrack: sarcastic remark.

Transcript: ABC

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