Picture This

Picture This

by Joseph Heller


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"Mr. Heller treats the whole panorama of history past and present with the bravado of Mark Twain in one of his sassier moods." The New York Times Book Review
A keenly satirical look at the world of art and museums by the author of the modern classic, Catch-22.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780399134111
Publisher: Penguin Group (USA) Incorporated
Publication date: 10/03/1988
Product dimensions: 9.68(w) x 6.46(h) x 1.71(d)

About the Author

Joseph Heller was born in Brooklyn in 1923. In 1961, he published Catch-22, which became a bestseller and, in 1970, a film. He went on to write such novels as Good as Gold, God Knows, Picture This, Closing Time, and Portrait of an Artist, as an Old Man. Heller died in 1999.

Date of Birth:

May 1, 1923

Date of Death:

December 12, 1999

Place of Birth:

Brooklyn, New York

Place of Death:

East Hampton, New York


New York University, B.A. in English, Phi Beta Kappa, 1948<br> Columbia University, M.A., 1949

Read an Excerpt

Chapter 1

Aristotle contemplating the bust of Homer thought often of Socrates while Rembrandt dressed him with paint in a white Renaissance surplice and a medieval black robe and encased him in shadows. "Crito, I owe a cock to Asclepius," Plato has Socrates saying after he had swallowed his cup of poison and felt the numbing effects steal up through his groin into his torso and approach his heart. "Will you remember to pay the debt?"

Now Socrates, of course, did not owe a cock to Asclepius, the god of medicine.

And the leather merchant Asclepius, you will find written here, son of the physician Eurymynedes, was as baffled as anyone to learn of the bequest from the slave who appeared on his doorstep in the morning with a live rooster in his arms. The authorities were curious also and took him into custody for questioning. They put him to death when he continued to profess his ignorance and would not reveal the code.

Copyright © 1998 by Joseph Heller

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Picture This 4.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 4 reviews.
Altheo More than 1 year ago
Joseph Heller's "Picture This" has yet to be fully appreciated because the world is not yet ready to change the subjective opinions of the facts which have made our history books sources of misinformation. As the wise saying goes, what we have learned from history is that we don't learn from history. Heller seeks to rectify this. Comparing Aristotle and his times (the Greeks weaned on Homer's epic novels), the Enlightenment (made possible by the invention of the printing press), the beginnings of the industrial revolution (which included Rembrandt's artful ups and downs) and life as it is today, what we are shown is that nothing has changed, and the only true hero is the least understood of the Hellenic Greeks three most famous philosophers: Socrates (time having discredited the subjective ideas of both Plato and Aristotle.) What Socrates taught and preached was the reward that comes from using of our reasoning powers to dispel our deep-seated illusions of grandeur and delusions of persecution; the reward being both the wisdom of ethical behavior and the happiness that comes from attaining peace of mind. Luckily, Heller survived the war and lived to tell about it. His abhorance of war, and of the injustices he saw, were the subject matter of his books. Unfortunately, he was seen as merely a humorist; his subsequent books were judged as his never having lived up to his potential. The barbs of satire are aimed at human foibles. When completely understood satire becomes a source of comedy, but when not understood it is seen as criticism and reacted to as a personal threat. Unfortunately, we are still in the habit of killing the messenger. Although the sorry fate of Socrates is well known and hard to endure--man's inhumanity to man a current theme--this book needs to be read more than once. Joan Morrone
Guest More than 1 year ago
Wow and Wow! When I first read this book it felt like I was reading someone's college thesis or something. It is literally a history book, but somehow Joseph Heller pokes his head through the painting of Aristotle contemplating the bust of Homer. Heller takes us abroad on a journey through time. From Plato to Rembrandt and even after that. The main character of this book is canvas. Now that is innovative (no sarcasm). As you read this you feel like you are reading a real important book (a natural and totally appropriate feeling). It is almost like you are reading something that no one else could read. It is so original that it is frightening to picture Joseph Heller plunging into history books and art archives to come up with this stuff. Personally I was freaked out, because I didn't know if this was a real book or if it was just fiction thrown together with famous names. I am indebt to Joseph Heller for knocking me on my butt every time I read one of his books. Even though he is not with us now, his words are a posthumous/posthumorous tombstone. I cannot recommend this book anymore.
petrojoh on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
An interesting approach to seemingly unconnected periods of history. I sometimes wondered of its historical accuracy.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Everyone this is a great book and I think any age group would love it