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453 pages, Paperback
First published November 10, 1961
‘Don't tell me God works in mysterious ways,’ Yossarian continued, hurtling on over her objection. ‘There's nothing so mysterious about it. He's not working at all. He's playing. Or else He's forgotten all about us. That's the kind of God you people talk about - a country bumpkin, a clumsy, bungling, brainless, conceited, uncouth hayseed. Good God, how much reverence can you have for a Supreme Being who finds it necessary to include such phenomena as phlegm and tooth decay in His divine system of creation? What in the world was running through that warped, evil, scatological mind of His when He robbed old people of the power to control their bowel movements? Why in the world did He ever create pain?’THOUGHTS:
‘Pain?’ Lieutenant Scheisskopf's wife pounced upon the word victoriously. ‘Pain is a useful symptom. Pain is a warning to us of bodily dangers.’
‘And who created the dangers?’ Yossarian demanded ... ‘Why couldn't He have used a doorbell instead to notify us?’
The chaplain had mastered, in a moment of divine intuition, the handy technique of protective rationalization, and he was exhilarated by his discovery. It was miraculous. It was almost no trick at all, he saw, to turn vice into virtue and slander into truth, impotence into abstinence, arrogance into humility, plunder into philanthropy, thievery into honor, blasphemy into wisdom, brutality into patriotism, and sadism into justice. Anybody could do it; it required no brains at all. It merely required no character.Finally, I wanted to share one last piece of awesome with you. The following is the contents of the letter sent by the base commander to the wife of one of the main characters.
Dear Mrs., Mr., Miss, or Mr. And Mrs. [no spoiler]: Words cannot express the deep personal grief I experienced when your husband, son, father, or brother was killed, wounded, or reported missing in action.Priceless…and what’s even funnier is that the set up of the joke occurs about 200 pages before.
He was going to live forever, or die in the attempt.
The colonel dwelt in a vortex of specialists who were still specializing in trying to determine what was troubling him. They hurled lights in his eyes to see if he could see, rammed needles into nerves to hear if he could feel.Ha! That one still gets me. Unfortunately, the laugh-out-loudness has caused some people to think I’m crazy, but I suppose that’s the price one must pay for decent literature.