Joseph Heller Catch-22 Letters Up For Auction

By Dianna Dilworth Comment

Auction house Nate D. Sanders has two letters from author Joseph Heller up for bid. In the letters, Heller discusses his Catch-22. Each letter is estimated to sell between $2,000 and $5,000. Bidding is open from now until Tuesday November 8th, the 50th anniversary of book.

Both letters were written from Heller to Professor James Nagel of Northeastern University in the early 1970s, more than a decade after the book was published in 1961.  In each letter he discusses the influences that other books had on his writing Catch-22.

Here’s an excerpt: “I was about thirty when I began thinking about Catch-22. These were the years of the cold war, the McCarthy period, the Eisenhower years, the Korean War, and it was a sensibility shaped by these factors that infused the book rather than my own literal experiences. The literary influences of which I was conscious from the beginning and throughout were Celine’s Journey to the End of the Night, to which there is a stronger similarity in the early sections of Catch-22 than I intended (though not so strong a resemblance as Milton Hindus asserts in Mosiac, Spring 1973) and Nobokov’s Laughter in the Dark, two books that just by chance happened to come into my hands almost successively.”

Interested parties can place bids online at or by phone at 310-440-2982.