Simon Called Peter

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Simon Called Peter is a novel by Robert Keable (1887–1927) [1] which was a best-seller in 1921.[2] The title is a reference to Simon Peter the apostle and first Pope of the Catholic Church.

In 1921 it was met with astonishing success. The book reportedly sold over 600,000 copies during the 1920s,[3] reaching a 66th edition by 1922.[4] A largely autobiographical work, Simon Called Peter is the tale of a priest, Peter Graham, who has an affair in wartime France with a nurse named Julie. The title character almost abandons his faith for love, but experiences a direct revelation of Christ while watching a Catholic mass and is given up by his lover, who sees his sincerity. Its runaway popularity won Keable a level of celebrity: he spent a lot of time in London and took up again with Buck, who was now usually known as "Betty" (she, by her token, called Keable "Bill"). The two met often at Gwen Otter's salon at No. 1 Ralston Street, in Chelsea, near to where Keable had lodgings; they made many friends, though refrained from fully overt displays of couplehood out of deference to Buck's distressed parents and Keable's wife. At this time, Keable appears to have become, in some measure, a proponent of open relationships and free love. He concluded that Buck had a right to pursue relationships with other men, though there is no firm evidence that she did, and "that a warm and spontaneous sexual nature, far from being in conflict with Christian love, was in fact a manifestation of it."[5]

The book was controversial at its introduction due to its sexual and religious content; it was made into a play by Jules Eckert Goodman and Edward Knoblock;[6] it had a short run in Chicago.[7] The novel was followed by a sequel, Recompense, published in 1924 [8] and made into a 1925 motion picture with the same title, directed by Harry Beaumont.[9]

This book is alluded to in The Great Gatsby. Nick Carraway, the narrator, reads a chapter and claims that "either it was terrible stuff or the whisky distorted things, because it didn't make any sense to me."[10]


  1. ^ [1] Time Magazine, Jan 2, 1928
  2. ^ Great War Fiction by George Simmer
  3. ^ Peterson, Austin (2003). Tahiti Report 2003. iUniverse. p. 66. ISBN 0-595-26835-8.
  4. ^ Robert Keable, quoted in Cecil (1995) p.155
  5. ^ Cecil (1995) p.172
  6. ^ [2] Time Magazine, Aug. 18, 2004
  7. ^ Internet Broadway Database
  8. ^ [3] Time April 21, 1924.
  9. ^ Harry Beaumont Filmography
  10. ^ The Great Gatsby. Fitzgerald, F. Scott. Penguin. 2011

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