Critical Context

From Here to Eternity, a critical as well as a popular success, was the basis for a well-known film of the same title. Jones’s first novel and winner of the National Book Award for Fiction in 1951, it is considered by most critics to be his best. Jones planned it as the first novel in a trilogy about army life. In The Thin Red Line (1962), Jones takes the same character-types through World War II. The last book of the trilogy, Whistle, was published posthumously in 1978.

The idea for From Here to Eternity came from a conversation that Jones had with his editor, Maxwell Perkins of Scribner’s. Perkins had edited Thomas Wolfe, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Ring Lardner, and Ernest Hemingway, among others. With this kind of a mentor, and the critical reception that this one novel received, critics expected great things of James Jones; he is best remembered, however, for only this one, great novel.