Not long ago, old friend and Stewart fan Denise Lapachet Barney sent a text:
“Looks like James Jones was familiar with the work of GRS! (Jones also wrote “From Here to Eternity”)”
Attached to the text was an image of a page from James Jones’ Some Came Running.
… it was Gwen who came up with the idea of patterning it somewhat on the idea of George R. Stewart’s book, “Storm”. There too, she said, the people were only incidental; the protagonist was the storm itself. Of course, it was not a deep book, wasnt [sic] even meant to be one. …Did Dave know the book? There was a copy of it here someplace that he could take home with him to study. The main point was that the life of the storm, from its birth in Pacific to its death across the mountains, formed the framework and the continuity.
Bob agreed excitedly. And so did Dave; he took it up and began at once to elaborate it. It was really ludicrously simple. All he had to do was take an organization, preferably a green one, and follow it through some campaign from its first combat to—Well, to the end: the end of the campaign, or the relief of the or the relief of the organization, or—perhaps—to the final replacement of the last man who had been with the original outfit. ….
I haven’t read Jones’ novel and I don’t know the context of the passage – that is, for what the characters are considering STORM as a model**. Still, it is an homage to his work by an author who won many awards, who saw this novel (and From Here to Eternity) filmed and receiving several academy award nominations (and at least one academy award for From Here to Eternity).
Jones’ characters are offhandedly critical about Stewart’s novel, commenting that it wasn’t a deep book. I’d disagree; I think the reason for the criticism is founded on differences between the two authors’ approach to their work. Jones clearly follows Shakespeare’s idea that the world is simply a stage for human interaction while Stewart believes the world is THE protagonist in all human drama. And Stewart is, ultimately, a great optimist while Jones’s work carries a dark pessimism woven throughout. Yet Jones’ view of Storm is similar to that of distinguished Stewart-inspired JPL/NASA Scientist, James D. Burke, who found the novel’s emphasis on the storm as the protagonist that encouraged humans to work together toward a noble goal.
James Jones is one of a group of distinguished writers, artists, and scientists influenced by George R. Stewart who acknowledge him in their work: Dr. James D. Burke, William Least Heat Moon, Stephen King, Larry McMurtry, Christopher Priest, Wallace Stegner, Philip Aaberg, Jimi Hendrix, Ursula LeGuin, and others.
Congratulations and thanks to Denise for this discovery. She joins the Fellowship of Stewart Scholars.