Picture of author.

John Horne Burns (1916–1953)

Autor(a) de The Gallery

6+ Works 419 Membros 9 Críticas

About the Author

Image credit: Courtesy of the NYPL Digital Gallery (image use requires permission from the New York Public Library)

Obras por John Horne Burns

The Gallery (1948) 348 exemplares, 9 críticas
Lucifer with a Book (1949) 46 exemplares
A cry of children (1952) 22 exemplares
Burns John Horne 1 exemplar

Associated Works

The Other persuasion: short fiction about gay men and women (1977) — Contribuidor — 121 exemplares
American Men at Arms (1964) — Contribuidor — 11 exemplares, 1 crítica


Conhecimento Comum

Nome canónico
Burns, John Horne
Data de nascimento
Data de falecimento
Locais de residência
Andover, Massachusetts, USA
Harvard University
United States Army



Americký autor volí pro svou zpověď o deziluzi nad chováním americké okupační armády v Africe a v Itálii za druhé světové války formu románu, rozpadávajícího se v galerii lidských portrétů. Kniha odhaluje vypočítavé a poživačné typy velitelů a armádních činitelů, kteří prosazují na okupovaném území kořistnický, zkorumpovaný řád, projevující se řadou přečinů a zločinů, a vedle toho předvádí zmatené a ideově dezorientované vojáky, kteří jsou nástrojem tohoto počínání.… (mais)
PDSS | 8 outras críticas | May 6, 2024 |
Burns has a unique voice—or I should say voices, as each individual piece, most written in the first person, has its own unique tenor and sense. For example, one is from the point of view of a well-to-do Italian lady of a certain age who owns and runs a Naples bar catering to military homosexuals. Burns renders her omniscience believable despite the fact that she is beset by chaos.

The book’s structure reminds me of Moussorgsky’s Pictures at an Exhibition—a visit to an art gallery, during which we move from picture to picture, all of which bear some resemblance and relevance to the others, despite their wholly unrelated surface details. My tour showed me the various faces of American World War II experience in 1944 in southern Italy and northern African. Not surprisingly, it is often jarring, unfamiliar, grotesque, and exotically seductive.

The chapter entitled “Queen Penicillin” is at once gut wrenching, distressing, and amusing. It centers on an American army hospital devoted to treatment of venereal diseases, and one gets a glimpse of the intersection of disingenuous military and medical attitudes and practices with sufferers’ anguish and the humor they employ to cope with it. Neither has much to do with the other, and “compassion” isn’t part of anybody’s lexicon.

Many of the stories’ narrators inject what was probably widely used slang, and its startling presence revealed just how P.C. today’s writing and speech has become. References to “Eyetalians,” “Ginsos,” “Ayrabs,” and the like served to throw off concentration, but all I needed to get back on track was to recall that the book was first published in 1947. It also became evident a few chapters in that Burns uses this kind of terminology as a lightly veiled criticism of the demeanor and superiority endemic to American military men and women of that era and place.

I’ve read that, at the time of the The Gallery’s first publication, Burns came in for some scathing criticism because it deals fairly openly with gay people and lives. At that time, this was fully unexpected. Other than the crowd in the bar mentioned earlier, most members of which are out and out caricatures for bad behavior, the author bestows on the maybe-gay characters his clear-eyed understanding that is one part objectively critical and two parts compassionate. Even the shut-down, married, opportunistic, closet-case who heads up an office of letter-reading censor cannot be easily despised and dismissed, because Burns gives us such a precise vision of where he comes from and what he fears.

With only a dozen pages to go, this book has continued to hold my interest, even though it has sometimes tried my patience. Reading it has taught me many things, not just about the American in the southern European theater of World War II, but about thoroughly accomplished and honest writing.
… (mais)
Boito_2 | 8 outras críticas | Jul 15, 2023 |
This book is said to be a novel, but could with nearly as much justification be considered a collection of short stories. Unity of location and time argue for treating it as one work, however.
The conceit at the heart of the book is the dual meaning of the word “gallery.” Much of the plot unrolls in the Galleria Umberto, an arcade where one can find, legally or illegally, nearly everything in this otherwise destitute city. But Burns uses the alternate meaning of the term to explore what is on display here. He alternates nine portraits, tales complete in themselves with no overlapping characters, and eight promenades. Unlike the portraits, which all take place in Naples in August 1944, the promenades, which could with equal accuracy have been called landscapes, follow the progression of the Allies from Casablanca to Naples. Unlike the portraits, there is a recurring character, the “I” of the narrator. Each begins “I remember.” There are also some recurring secondary characters, a mess sergeant, a corporal, and a pfc. Their dialogue reflects varying attitudes of the occupiers, from vulturous to well-meaning but ineffectual.
There is a third unity in the book, the relentless theme that war defiles. Is this an effect that war has on otherwise decent people, or does it rip off a thin veneer of civilization to reveal the ugly, underlying truth? The book doesn’t land clearly on either side of the question. The evidence of some stories would seem to point the book in the latter direction, but some others, such as the final portrait, Moe, portray how the war experience deepened the humanity of some.
Another theme emerges in the last few chapters: admiration for the Neapolitans, many of whom seemed, compared to the invaders, better able to maintain a semblance of dignity amidst the general rubble and corruption.
Each of the portraits is memorable. The book’s tone falters in the last two promenades, when the narrator arrives in Naples. Description and incident recede, editorial judgment intrudes. Overall, though, I found the book compelling.
… (mais)
HenrySt123 | 8 outras críticas | Jul 19, 2021 |
THE GALLERY is considered to be John Horn Burns' best book. Admittedly it is well written but it lacks a compelling plot so I couldn't get into it. The prose is clean and appealing but without a compelling story i gave up about half way. But don't let this discourage you because it is worth trying it. It may well satisfy your needs.
SigmundFraud | 8 outras críticas | Aug 1, 2014 |



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