Talk:John O'Hara

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List[edit]

Appointment in Samarra is very highly regarded. The fact that it is highly regarded is a relevant piece of information for this article. One NPOV piece of evidence for this is its appearance on the Modern Library's list. This fact is easily verifiable; see http://www.randomhouse.com/modernlibrary/100bestnovels.html. Please do not remove this statement unless you can replace it with a better piece of NPOV evidence for the book's importance. [[User:Dpbsmith|Dpbsmith (talk)]] 13:46, 6 Aug 2004 (UTC)

The list is neither objective nor evidence of merit; it was and remains a commercial tactic. See Modern Library, Talk:Modern_Library#Advertising and User_talk:Gamaliel#Top_100_Lists. -- Simonides 18:32, 6 Aug 2004 (UTC)
Presence on the list is certainly not proof of merit, but it is just as certainly evidence of merit.
No such list can be objective. The Newbury and Caldecott medals are a commercial tactic. The National Book Awards, the Booker List, etc. are commercial tactics. The Nobel Prize is not a commercial tactic, but was intended to enhance the reputation of Alfred Nobel and is not objective. All of these lists represent some kind of rough consensus judgement or point of view of a collection of people. Because many people believe that these lists do have some kind of value, the presence of a name on such a list is a relevant fact about the person or work of art being listed.
Perhaps the closest analogy is with the AMPAS Academy Awards ("Oscars") which are universally acknowledged to be a) far from objective, and b) commercially motivated. Yet most people believe that winning an Oscar is a notable achievement that is properly part of the factual description of a movie, or of an actor's career. The headline of the New York Times obituary on Marlon Brando was "Marlon Brando, Oscar-Winning Actor, Is Dead at 80." Would you systematically go through Wikipedia deleting all references to Academy awards?
If not, then would you explain why the Modern Library list is so much worse than the Academy awards, and what lists you would substitute in its place? It is silly that we should not be able present evidence that a book is important or notable or worthy. [[User:Dpbsmith|Dpbsmith (talk)]] 19:57, 6 Aug 2004 (UTC)

The analogy with the Academy Awards is invalid for numerous reasons (much more so than the usual weaknesses inherent to analogies); that and all other points you raise have been previously addressed at the ML Talk page - since you have posted there, I shall continue the discussion there. -- Simonides 03:49, 7 Aug 2004 (UTC)

Protection[edit]

I saw the request on Wikipedia:Requests for page protection. The page has been protected. The parties are encouraged to start discussing the matter on the talk page. 172 19:01, 6 Aug 2004 (UTC)

  • The relevant discussion is taking place, but in Talk:Modern Library, rather than here. Does not seem to be converging on agreement, however. [[User:Dpbsmith|Dpbsmith (talk)]]

Scraps of work in progress[edit]

As I get material that would otherwise go into John O'Hara, I will put it here, in anticipation of eventually inserting it into the article when the page becomes available for editing. These are just scraps and factoids, not in final form. [[User:Dpbsmith|Dpbsmith (talk)]] 16:01, 12 Aug 2004 (UTC)

  • Appointment in Samarra received rapid acclaim on publication. Of it, Hemingway wrote: "If you want to read a book by a man who knows exactly what he is writing about and has written it marvelously well, read Appointment in Samarra.”
  • Martin Kich, Wright State University states [1] "Despite occasional assertions of his significance, however, O'Hara's achievements have been so long and thoroughly denigrated that he is now typically considered a novelist of the second or even the third rank. Undoubtedly O'Hara's own public persona very much contributed to a number of misconceptions about his work." He goes on to detail how extraliterary factors such as his social climbing, self-promotion, and work as columnist alienated the literary establishment, particularly influential critic Alfred Kazin, resulting in neglect and possible underestimation of his work.
  • Frank Devine identifies Appointment in Samarra as the O'Hara novel "usually praised faintly by hostile critics afraid that favourable en passant mention of O’Hara’s short stories and dialogue may not be enough to save them from the scorn of future generations for dumping on him," but opines that From the Terrace is O'Hara's true masterpiece.
  • A plaque identifies John O'Hara's boyhood home at 606 Mahantongo St. (the "Lantenengo Street" of O'Hara's novels). In 2002 a former Pottsville sculptor, James Ponter, was commissioned to produce a lifesized statue of O'Hara, in tie, sweater vest and tweed sport coat leaning on his blackthorn walking stick. The finished statue is located on Centre Street, near the former site of a newspaper where O'Hara had once worked. As an Eagle Scout project, a Boy scout has added street signs to the town signposts identifying the Pottsville streets with their corresponding names in O'Hara's fictional Gibbsville.
  • Writing in the Atlantic Monthly in March, 2000, Benjamin and Christina Schwarz said "So widespread is the literary world's scorn for John O'Hara that the inclusion two years ago of his Appointment in Samarra on the Modern Library's list of the 100 best novels of the twentieth century was used to ridicule the entire project." (!!!!!!) NOTE: Reference is: http://www.theatlantic.com/issues/2000/03/schwarz.htm
  • O'Hara's writing was considered daringly frank in its references to sexuality. Until 1963, Butterfield 8 was banned from importation into Australia as obscene.
  • Allan Sherman's 1962 humorous song, Sarah Jackman touches affectionately on New York Jewish stereotypes. One exchange is: "What'cha doin', Sarah?" "Reading John O'Hara." [But is this a reference to his novels, or to his politically-right-wing Newsday column?????]

Mention:

  • The Art of Burning Bridges: A Life of John O'Hara by Geoffrey Wolff
  • The Life of John O'Hara By Frank MacShane
  • The Bright Book of Life by Alfred Kazin

Specific Proposal for Dispute Resolution[edit]

Replace the paragraph which formerly read as follows, with the portion in dispute struck out

In 1934 O'Hara published his first novel, Appointment in Samarra. In 2001 it was named as one of the 100 best English-language novels of the 20th century by the editorial board of the American Modern Library.

with these two paragraphs:

Despite his writing skill, O'Hara's work was not highly esteemed by the literary establishment. This was probably due in part to extraliterary factors, such as his social climbing, his vigorous self-promotion, and his politically conservative newspaper columns. Martin Kich of Wright State University states that "O'Hara's achievements have been so long and thoroughly denigrated that he is now typically considered a novelist of the second or even the third rank."
In 1934 O'Hara published his first novel, Appointment in Samarra, which was acclaimed on publication. This is the O'Hara novel that is most consistently praised by critics. Of it, Hemingway wrote: "If you want to read a book by a man who knows exactly what he is writing about and has written it marvelously well, read Appointment in Samarra." On the other hand, writing in the Atlantic Monthly in March, 2000, critic Benjamin Schwartz and writer Christina Schwarz said "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 novels of the twentieth century was used to ridicule the entire project."

Comments? [[User:Dpbsmith|Dpbsmith (talk)]] 00:10, 13 Aug 2004 (UTC)

I think that's a great rewriting! I wish I had the energy or strength of character to do the same sort of stuff. I would change "which" to "that" in the "This is the O'Hara novel which..."
Which, I think, is how I got started with this miserable O'Hara project, hehe. I glanced at the article, for some reason, then changed a which to that.... And after that got hooked.
Anyway, you've done a fine done -- now to see if Simonides will also it to proceed. By the way, that's an interesting quote, the lady who said that this book discredited the entire 100 ML list... Hayford Peirce 01:58, 13 Aug 2004 (UTC)
Well, I hope that it manages to capture two subtleties at once: the novel is both widely esteemed and scorned... and it captures the fact that the book is on the Modern Library List in a way that does not tend to promote the list. [[User:Dpbsmith|Dpbsmith (talk)]] 16:27, 14 Aug 2004 (UTC)
Note: I have made two small changes in the proposal's wording since Hayford's comment. I replaced "which" with "that" per Hayford, and I added the words "politically conservative" before "newspaper column." [[User:Dpbsmith|Dpbsmith (talk)]] 16:27, 14 Aug 2004 (UTC)
Sorry to hold back the article, I am currently without frequent/easy access to the net. Please proceed with the current wording and request that the article is unprotected; please also make it "best English novels", just for clarification. -- Simonides 13:56, 17 Aug 2004 (UTC)
Will do. Thanks. [[User:Dpbsmith|Dpbsmith (talk)]] 14:04, 17 Aug 2004 (UTC)
NOTE: version of to be inserted is now as follow, correcting a typo (Schwartz->Schwarz) and including Simonides's clarification.
Despite his writing skill, O'Hara's work was not highly esteemed by the literary establishment. This was probably due in part to extraliterary factors, such as his social climbing, his vigorous self-promotion, and his politically conservative newspaper columns. Martin Kich of Wright State University states that "O'Hara's achievements have been so long and thoroughly denigrated that he is now typically considered a novelist of the second or even the third rank."
In 1934 O'Hara published his first novel, Appointment in Samarra, which was acclaimed on publication. This is the O'Hara novel that is most consistently praised by critics. Of it, Hemingway wrote: "If you want to read a book by a man who knows exactly what he is writing about and has written it marvelously well, read Appointment in Samarra." On the other hand, writing in the Atlantic Monthly in March, 2000, critic Benjamin Schwarz and writer Christina Schwarz said "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] novels of the twentieth century was used to ridicule the entire project."

[[User:Dpbsmith|Dpbsmith (talk)]] 14:15, 17 Aug 2004 (UTC)

John O'Hara pictures[edit]

Could you please note the sources of these photos? Since they are pictures of O'Hara as an adult, it is doubtful that the copyright has expired on them. Gamaliel 22:43, 13 August 2005 (UTC)


Take the first one as an example. The page clearly states "Copyright © 1995-2004 by Coal Region Enterprises. All Rights Reserved". Why have you listed the picture as in the public domain? Gamaliel

  • >Gamaliel: I'm sure if there is a copyright by Coal Region Enterprises they don't have it for the pic, Anyway what do you suggest we do?


Unless you can establish that these pictures are in fact public domain or unless you can get permission from the actual copyright holder, they will have to be removed. Gamaliel 16:02, 14 August 2005 (UTC)


  • >Gama: Do what you must. I'm sure there will be more, and not by me.

I will be more cautious next time. Thanks Scotty

BUtterfield 8[edit]

The name of the novel is "BUtterfield 8" and not "Butterfield 8". Bowsie Jnr 10:46, 20 January 2006 (UTC)

A recent un-logged-in editor changed it to Butterfield 8. I've been clicking around, and a definitive answer is harder to come by than I thought. There's no doubt at all that the telephone exchange was presented as BUtterfield 8, with the B and the U both capitalized: they were the letters that were dialled.

Some book jackets display it that way:

http://i.biblio.com/b/564s/128474564-0-s.jpg

http://i.biblio.com/z/985/966/9780812966985.jpg

http://brothersjudd.com/reviews/images/butterfield8.gif

New York Times reviews of the book and the movie spell it with a lower-case u, Butterfield 8.

A movie poster is ambiguous: http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/thumb/d/d1/Butterfield8_movieposter.jpg/200px-Butterfield8_movieposter.jpg The spelling "BUtterfield 8" appears, but as a tag line. The title of the movie is displayed in all upper case.

I'm sticking with BUtterfield 8 until someone comes up with a solid reference to the contrary. Dpbsmith (talk) 02:47, 4 January 2008 (UTC)

Excessive POV[edit]

Although I agree that the sentiments expressed herein are almost certainly correct, I think that the following paragraph is almost grotesquely POV. It either needs to be completely rewritten, or it needs to have numerous citations to back up its opinions, or it needs to be deleted. Your choice.... Hayford Peirce 20:36, 12 March 2006 (UTC)

"Critical disdain for O'Hara -- like that the literary establishment expressed towards his contemporary John P. Marquand -- had less to do with his merits as a writer than with the political tilt of academic and journalistic critics. Both wrote about a subject that made Americans generally profoundly uncomfortable: privilege and inequality. Having clawed their way into a sort of respectability, the critics resented and scorned authors willing to explore the institutions from which they themselves derived their fragile sense of social superiority."

Goodness. It seems to have been added 19:00, 20 September 2005 by User:Pdobkinh. I would say it is a "reasonable" or "arguable" point of view, but I would not go so far as to say it is "almost certainly correct." First of all, being considered part of the Western Canon by Harold Bloom doesn't exactly seem to me to be exactly "critical disdain." O'Hara was highly esteemed. And I am not so sure he was underrated. I personally don't see his writing as being, say, in the Nobel Prize category. Second, I don't think it was his politics, his commercial success and his popular appeal; critics always have a problem with that.

Anyway, it shouldn't be in the article unless it can be shown to be a quote, or a fair paraphrase or summary of published material. Dpbsmith (talk) 22:20, 12 March 2006 (UTC)

Oops. I miscommunicated. I meant that the *motives* this writer ascribes to the various critics for denigrating O'Hara are almost certainly correct. Although it *must* be possible for someone like poor low-brow me merely to say that, in my opinion, a lot of his stuff is "long-winded" or "tedious" or even "boring", without that being an expression of my fragile sense of self, hehe.... Hayford Peirce 23:38, 12 March 2006 (UTC)
And I don't think the Nobel committee gave the prize to Steinbeck because of their "fragile sense of social superiority." Dpbsmith (talk) 21:07, 1 April 2006 (UTC)

"Another way of looking at this is as an example of social injustice and tragedy. In his youth O'Hara definitely wanted and had planned to go to Yale. He was prevented from this by poverty. In view of his later accomplishment as a writer, it would have been equally advantageous to O'Hara personally and to the university if that had been the case. It could also be asked why Yale did not see fit to award him an honorary degree. Many less famous people have surely got such degrees from that esteemed institution in the past."

What is this except Yale ax-grinding? MST3Kakalina (talk) 08:58, 9 May 2012 (UTC)MST3Kakalina