November 11, 2011
Published in 1947, The Gallery was one of the earliest works of post WWII fiction. It was a critically-acclaimed bestseller and was a trailblazer for books like Catch-22 to follow. Set in occupied Naples in 1944—where author John Horne Burns had been commissioned as an army intelligence officer to investigate crimes committed by U.S. troops—the book captures the shock the war dealt to the preconceptions and ideals of the victorious Americans. It also provides one of the first unblinking looks at gay life in the military.
Though Burns died at the young age of thirty-six, depriving American literature of his promise, he left us a truly original portrait of war. Paul Fussell writes in his introduction to the novel, “For one magical creative moment, in The Gallery he revealed an impressive command of setting and character as well as intense moral feelings about the worst war in history and its power to corrupt soldiers and civilians alike.”