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New 'From Here to Eternity' Edition Restores Gay Elements

Sixty years after it was first published, and 30 years after the death of its author, James Jones, the novel From Here to Eternity is being reissued, with gay elements that were excised from the original edition.

The Guardian explains: Heretoeternity

From Here to Eternity is the story of first sergeant Milt Warden, who has an affair with Karen, the wife of his captain. But the original text of the novel included two scenes which never made it to the published edition, let alone the film. In one, private Angelo Maggio – the soldier played by Frank Sinatra in the 1953 film – confesses to having oral sex with a wealthy man for $5 or $10 that "comes in handy the middle of the month". In the second scene a military investigation into gay activity is mooted.

Jones's editor at Scribner refused to allow the scenes to be included, and also excised various swear words originally intended to be included in the dialogue. In America at the time the US postal service would not carry material it considered obscene, making it impossible for books the organisation thought offensive to be distributed. Disapproval from the influential Book-of-the-Month Club, a mail order club, also meant the end of a novel's chances of commercial success. Many authors, including Ernest Hemingway, were therefore forced to tone down their novels' language and content, on pragmatic rather than moral grounds.

The book will be available as an ebook through digital publisher Open Road.

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Comments

  1. This is utterly fascinating. World War II was an overwhelmngly important event in gay American history as it was a time when gays and lesbians discovered that they weren't alone and far from few. Read "Coming Out Under Fire" to learn more about this period and what happened. In many instances gay and lesbian relationships flourished openly because when anyone could die tomorrow no one really care who you were in bed with the day before.

    The gay and lesbian orgs that poppped up in the early 50's (The Mattachine Society, the Daughters of Bilitis) were a direct result of wartime experiences.

    James Jones wasn't gay -- but he wasn't stupid. It will be truly interesting to read this unexpurgated version of a book everyone thinks they know.

    Posted by: David Ehrenstein | Apr 6, 2011 11:47:57 AM


  2. Agreed with everything you said Mr. Ehrenstein. I can't wait to read the "real" version either.

    Posted by: Beau | Apr 6, 2011 12:33:09 PM


  3. Patricia Bosworth's definitive 1978 biography of Montgomery Clift quotes Monty's friend Jeanne Green as saying that James Jones wanted to hook up sexually with Monty during the shoot , and tried to sound her out about the subject of Monty's sexuality.

    Posted by: Hank | Apr 6, 2011 2:16:35 PM


  4. The real G/L history of WW2...and even WW1...will never really be complete as attitudes and perceptions changed so radically since events occurred. What we now call bisexuality was the norm for many in a casual sense that's unimaginable now; communal nudity, casual and flexible sexuality and totally-different societal barriers and boundaries were much more flexible

    Without the concept of "homosexuality" many casual behaviors hat now would raise huge red-flags sexually just didn't register as out-of-bounds for straight guys as they do today.

    Posted by: Ted B. (Charging Rhino) | Apr 6, 2011 4:04:57 PM


  5. @Ted B. – Perceptions, assumptions, and social morays change; human behavior does not. It is true that before the constructs popularized by Kinsey and his disciples sexuality was subject to fewer labels, but I doubt there has been any real shift in what people actually do. Society has always found ways to accommodate sexual fluidity. In Whitman's time, for example, two of the most celebrated public figures in Brooklyn were a male couple who were referred to as "the Graham Brothers," even though most people knew that they were not actually brothers. Ironically, we may be living in a time when those accommodations are more, not less, rigid.

    Posted by: rascal | Apr 6, 2011 5:08:26 PM


  6. It would be interesting to see more open view of the homosexual experience during WW II- but this doesn't sound as it would radically alter the novel now if you want to imagine Burt Lancaster and Monty Cliff kissing on the beach...

    Posted by: jaragon | Apr 6, 2011 5:45:32 PM


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