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APPOINTMENT IN SAMARRA: A NOVEL by  John O'Hara - First Edition - 1934 - from Captain Ahab's Rare Books (SKU: 5067)


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by O'Hara, John

  • Used
  • hardcover
  • First
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Stephenson, Virginia
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About This Item

New York: Harcourt, Brace and Company, 1934. First Edition. Attractive copy of O'Hara's first novel, a hard-hitting and realistic story of Pennsylvania car dealer Julian English, who over the course of three days engages in a self-destructive chain of events culminating in his suicide. One of the defining books of the 1930's, ranking number 22 on the Modern Library's "100 Best Novels" list. Bruccoli A2.1.a. First Printing. Octavo (20.75cm); glazed black cloth, with titles stamped in gilt on spine; yellow topstain; dustjacket; [viii],301,[3]pp, with errata slip tipped-in following the copyright page. Tasteful bookplate of Virginia bibliophile Christopher Clark Geest on front pastedown. Tiny indentation to lower edge of front board, faint smoky odor, else very Near Fine, without the usual heavy finger-soil to the cloth. In the first state dustjacket, price-clipped, with "Recent Fiction" and seven blurbs on rear panel; light wear to extremities, a hint of sunning to spine, tiny nicks to three corners, with a handful of tiny tears and some very faint dust-soil; unrestored; about Near Fine.


At the ripe age of twenty-eight, John O’Hara completed Appointment in Samarra, his first novel, in less than four months. At a similarly quick pace, the events of the book take place in a span of just three days. In this brief time, Appointment in Samarra tells of the increasingly impulsive and self-destructive acts that lead to the main character’s suicide. Julian English, once a high-ranking member of the community of Gibbsville, angers and alienates those close to him, resulting in the rapid decline of his social status. Specific explanations for Julian’s behavior are unclear in the text, though personal insecurities along with his alcoholism undoubtedly play a role. The small-town prejudices of Gibbsville (O’Hara’s fictionalized version of his hometown, Pottsville, Pennsylvania) greatly affect Julian’s demise as well. Omniscient narration works to expose these prejudices via the inner thoughts of various people in the town. The title, Appointment in Samarra, is a reference to W. Somerset Maugham's 1933 retelling of an old story in his play, Sheppey. In the story, which appears as an epigraph for the novel, Death speaks of meeting a merchant in Samarra, informing the reader from the beginning of the novel’s fatal ending. In his foreword to the 1952 reprint, O'Hara says that the working title for the novel was The Infernal Grove. It was not until fellow writer Dorothy Parker showed him the story in Maugham's play that he got the idea for the title Appointment in Samarra. Modern Library ranked Appointment in Samarra 22nd on its list of the “100 Best” English-language novels of the 20th century.

Read more: Identifying first editions of APPOINTMENT IN SAMARRA: A NOVEL


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book dealer
Captain Ahab's Rare Books US (US)
Bookseller’s Inventory #
O'Hara, John
Book condition
second hand
Quantity available
First Edition
Harcourt, Brace and Company
Place of Publication
New York
Date Published

Terms of Sale

Captain Ahab's Rare Books

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About the Seller

Captain Ahab's Rare Books

Seller rating:
This seller has earned a 5 of 5 Stars rating from Biblio customers. member since 2010
Stephenson, Virginia
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About Captain Ahab's Rare Books

Founded in 2010, Captain Ahab's Rare Books specializes in first editions of literature, genre fiction, film-related books and ephemera, zines, manuscript and archival material.


Some terminology that may be used in this description includes:

The outer portion of a book which covers the actual binding. The spine usually faces outward when a book is placed on a shelf.... [more]
First Edition
In book collecting, the first edition is the earliest published form of a book. A book may have more than one first edition in... [more]
Highly sought after by some collectors, a book plate is an inscribed or decorative device that identifies the owner, or former... [more]
A book in fine condition exhibits no flaws. A fine condition book closely approaches As New condition, but may lack the... [more]
Copyright page
The page in a book that describes the lineage of that book, typically including the book's author, publisher, date of... [more]
first state
used in book collecting to refer to a book from the earliest run of a first edition, generally distinguished by a change in some... [more]
"Cloth-bound" generally refers to a hardcover book with cloth covering the outside of the book covers. The cloth is stretched... [more]
Another of the terms referring to page or book size, octavo refers to a standard printer's sheet folded four times, producing... [more]
The decorative application of gold or gold coloring to a portion of a book on the spine, edges of the text block, or an inlay in... [more]
Errata: aka Errata Slip A piece of paper either laid in to the book correcting errors found in the printed text after being... [more]

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