James Jones (author)
|Born||James Ramon Jones
November 6, 1921
Robinson, Illinois, USA
|Died||May 9, 1977
Southampton, New York
|Genres||World War II fiction|
|Notable award(s)||National Book Award
James Jones (November 6, 1921 – May 9, 1977) was an American author known for his explorations of World War II and its aftermath. He won the 1952 National Book Award for his first published novel, From Here to Eternity, which was adapted for the big screen immediately and made into television series a generation later.
James Ramon Jones was born and raised in Robinson, Illinois, the son of Ramon and Ada M. (née Blessing) Jones. He enlisted in the United States Army in 1939 and served in the 25th Infantry Division 27th Infantry Regiment before and during World War II, first in Hawaii at Schofield Barracks on Oahu, then in combat on Guadalcanal at the Battle of Mount Austen, the Galloping Horse, and the Sea Horse, where he was wounded in action. He also went to Vietnam as a journalist during the Vietnam War.
His wartime experiences inspired some of his most famous works, the so-called war trilogy. He witnessed the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, which led to his first published novel, From Here to Eternity (1951). The Thin Red Line (1962) reflected his combat experiences on Guadalcanal and Whistle (posthumous, 1978) was based on his hospital stay in Memphis, Tennessee, recovering from surgery on an ankle he had reinjured on the island.
Jones was the father of two children including Kaylie Jones, an author best known for A Soldier's Daughter Never Cries, a thinly veiled memoir of the Joneses' life in Paris during the 1960s. (The son Jamie Jones was adopted in France.) Ms. Jones' novel was made into a film starring Kris Kristofferson, Barbara Hershey and Leelee Sobieski in 1998. The release of this film, along with the 1998 release of a new film version of The Thin Red Line, directed by Terrence Malick and produced by Robert Michael Geisler and John Roberdeau, sparked a revival of interest in James Jones' life and works. In 2011, Ms. Jones was instrumental in publishing an uncensored edition of James Jones' From Here to Eternity.
Jones assisted in the 1950 formation of the Handy Writers' Colony in Marshall, Illinois, by his then-lover Lowney Handy and her husband Harry Handy. It was funded partly by Harry and, after the financial success of From Here To Eternity, partly by Jones. Originally conceived as a Utopian commune where budding artists could focus exclusively on their writing projects, the colony dissolved after only a few years, largely because of Handy's erratic behavior and Jones' focus on his novels. The colony dissolved a few years after James Jones relocated to France following his marriage to Gloria Mosolino.[inconsistent]
Jones died in Southampton, New York of congestive heart failure and is buried in Poxabogue-Evergreen Cemetery, Bridgehampton, New York. His papers are now held at the Harry Ransom Center at the University of Texas at Austin. His widow, Gloria, died on June 9, 2006. Many of James Jones's books are still available in digital format including excerpts from "They Shall Inherit the Laughter," published as "To the End of the War."
Jones called his first novel They Shall Inherit the Laughter. It was a thinly disguised autobiographical novel of his experiences in Robinson immediately after World War II. After several rejections —with various complaints and claims for the work being too shrill and lacking perspective— he abandoned it and began writing From Here to Eternity.
Charles Scribner's Sons published Eternity in 1951 and it won the annual U.S. National Book Award for Fiction.[a] The Modern Library Board later named it one of the 100 best novels of the 20th century.
His second published novel, Some Came Running (1957), had its roots in the abandoned first effort. In contrast to Eternity, it was savaged by the critics. They were especially harsh with the frequently misspelled words and punctuation errors; they didn't recognize that such elements were a conscious style choice by Jones to evoke the provinciality of the novel's characters and setting. Jones apparently played around with this style in several short stories written at about the same time as Some Came Running (later collected in The Ice-Cream Headache and Other Stories), only to abandon it altogether by the time he finished The Thin Red Line in 1962, in favor of the blunt but more grammatically sound style most associated with Jones today. Some Came Running was immediately adapted as film starring Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin and Shirley MacLaine, which was critically acclaimed and nominated for several Oscars.
Jones would not live long enough to see the completion of his last novel, Whistle, (Jones knew he was dying of congestive heart failure while writing it). However, Jones did leave behind copious notes for Willie Morris to complete the final section after his death, and Whistle was published only a year later, in 1978. That completed Jones' war trilogy (the first parts being From Here to Eternity and The Thin Red Line), of which he wrote: "It will say just about everything I have ever had to say, or will ever have to say, on the human condition of war and what it means to us, as against what we claim it means to us."
While many have come to recognize Jones' genius and effectiveness, perhaps the most unusual is Jimmy Buffett by poignantly memorializing him in his song "Sending the Old Man Home" with the line that the retiring Admiral won't forget his battles at sea but will only have "the memories, or great books by James Jones."
- From Here to Eternity (1951)
- From Here to Eternity: The Restored Edition. Open Road Media, 2011. ISBN 0-385-33364-1 (e-book)
- Some Came Running (1957)
- The Pistol (1959)
- The Thin Red Line (1962)
- Go to the Widow-Maker (1967)
- The Ice-Cream Headache and Other Stories (1968)
- The Merry Month of May (1971)
- A Touch of Danger (1973)
- Viet Journal (1974)
- WW II (1975)
- Whistle (1978) (completed by Willie Morris)
- To the End of the War (unpublished but forthcoming)
Some Came Running was adapted as a film in 1958.
- Accepting a National Book Foundation Medal in 1993, Gore Vidal recounted (read by Harry Evans in his absence):
- "I did attend one of the first National Book Award Ceremonies 40 years ago. That was also my last experience of book prize giving. ...
- The Winner in fiction, was my old friend James Jones, From Here To Eternity. His victory was somewhat marred by Jean Stafford, one of the [five] judges, unlike our present distinguished company, who moved slowly, if unsurely, about the room, stopping before each notable to announce in a loud voice, "The decision was not unanimous."
- ''James Jones on Guadalcanal'' by RJ Blaskiewicz. Retrieved 2011-08-27.
- April 5, 2011 (2011-04-05). "Profanity and more to be found in uncensored 'From Here to Eternity' e-book - latimes.com". Latimesblogs.latimes.com. Retrieved 2011-08-27. Text " 11:20 am " ignored (help)
- Bosman, Julie (April 4, 2011). "Author’s Heirs Uncensor a Classic War Novel". nytimes.com. The New York Times. Retrieved 2011-08-28.
- "National Book Awards – 1952". National Book Foundation. Retrieved 2012-03-12.
(With essay by Harold Augenbraum from the Awards 60-year anniversary blog.)
- Modern Library. "100 Best Novels". Random House. Retrieved 2012-03-31.
|Wikiquote has a collection of quotations related to: James Jones (author)|
- The James Jones Literary Society
- James Jones Papers. Yale Collection of American Literature, Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library.
- James Jones' Collection at the Harry Ransom Center at The University of Texas at Austin
- Handy Writers' Colony Collection. Archives/Special Collections, Brookens Library, University of Illinois at Springfield.
- "James Jones (author)". Find a Grave. Retrieved 2008-07-27.
- Read Jones's interview with The Paris Review