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Definition: Catch-22 from Brewer's Dictionary of Modern Phrase and Fable

A 'no-win' situation: whichever alternative you choose, you will lose or be in trouble. Catch-22 is the title of Joseph Heller's novel, published in 1961. The story centres on Captain Yossarian of the 256th United States (Army) bombing squadron in the Second World War, whose main aim is to avoid being killed.

 There was only one catch and that was Catch-22,
 which specified that a concern for one's own safety in
 the face of dangers that were real and immediate was
 the process of a rational mind. Orr was crazy and
 could be grounded. All he had to do was to ask; and as
 soon as he did, he would no longer be crazy and would
 have to fly more missions.
ch v

Summary Article: Catch-22 from The Hutchinson Unabridged Encyclopedia with Atlas and Weather Guide

Black-humour novel by Joseph Heller, published in 1961, about a US squadron that is ordered to fly an increased number of bombing missions in Italy in World War II; the crazed military justifications involved were described by the novel's phrase ‘Catch-22’, which has come to represent the dilemma of every available choice being wrong.

The novel states that a man ‘would be crazy to fly more missions and sane if he didn't but if he was sane, he had to fly them. If he flew them he was crazy and didn't have to; but if he didn't, he was sane and had to.’

© RM, 2016. All rights reserved.

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