Scholar argues J.J. was also humanitarian, literary pioneer


A new book by literary scholar and former James Jones Literary Society board member Tony J. Williams argues that James Jones was much more than a popular war novelist.

James Jones played many roles, including short story writer, social critic, and war novelist. His most famous work, From Here to Eternity (1951), spent 20 weeks atop the New York Times bestseller’s list, won the National Book Award, was adapted into an Academy Award-winning film, and was named one of the 100 best novels of the twentieth century by the Modern Library.

In James Jones: The Limits of Eternity, Williams examines the significance of Jones’s work not only for its nuance and daring subject matter but also for its widespread popularity. In his assessment of Jones’s catalog, Williams reveals an incisive novelist who offered groundbreaking interpretations of masculinity, sexuality, gender, and identity. Williams contends that Jones should be recognized as far more than just a popular war novelist, but also as a humanitarian and literary pioneer, particularly in probing gender and queer issues.

A quintessentially American novelist, Jones was never afraid to look openly at the flaws of his society, examine how it could adversely affect individual victims, and tacitly suggest possible alternatives. He recognized the presence of gays and lesbians in American culture during an overtly repressive time, which makes his work relevant to many areas of contemporary criticism. Demonstrating his significant contribution to contemporary American literature, James Jones: The Limits of Eternity will be of interest to scholars of war narratives, gender studies, and literary studies.

Tony J. Williams is professor of English at Southern Illinois University, Carbondale. He is the author of several books, including Body and Soul: The Cinematic Vision of Robert Aldrich (Scarecrow, 2004) and Hearths of Darkness: The Family in the American Horror Film, Updated Edition (2014).

James Jones: The Limits of Eternity can be ordered at: