Next Up: Appointment In Samarra
I’ve seen Appointment in Samarra, written by John O’ Hara, compared to The Great Gatsby.
If you’ve been following this blog for any length of time, you know that I consider that extremely high praise–almost impossible-to-meet expectations to put on a novel.
The novel focuses on Julian English, once a member of the social elite in small-town Pennsylvania, and follows his self-destruction.
A few facts about Appointment in Samarra and John O’ Hara:
- The novel was published in 1934 and was O’ Hara’s first novel.
- O Hara’s inspiration from the novel came from a W. Somerset Maugham play called Sheppey.
- Appointment in Samarra was a controversial book when it was released. The Saturday Review titled their review of the novel “Mr. O’Hara and the Vulgar School.”
- Sinclair Lewis called the novel “nothing but infantilism—the erotic visions of a hobbledehoy behind the barn.” What does that even mean?
- Even in recent times, the book has been ridiculed. In March 2000, The Atlantic Monthly wrote “So widespread is the literary world’s scorn for John O’Hara that the inclusion … of Appointment in Samarra on the Modern Library‘s list of the 100 best [English-language] novels of the twentieth century was used to ridicule the entire project.”
- O’Hara is best known for Appointment in Samarra, but he also wrote dozens of short stories and other novels, including the BUtterfield 8 in 1935.
- O’Hara was a staunch conservative and wrote a series of political columns for Newsday that were cut short because of the backlash the paper received.
- He passed away in 1970, at the age of 65, from cardiovascular disease.
Well, this guy sounds like an interesting writer for sure.
Just from spending 15 minutes researching Appointment in Samarra and John O’Hara, I’m already intrigued about finding more out about him.
Any experience with O’Hara or this novel?