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                                                          Death of Dr. O'Hara

On March 18, 1925 John O'Hara's father, Dr. Patrick O'Hara, died at fifty-seven. He had been a well respected surgeon in The Region. His death threw the family into "genteel poverty."

The following day John wrote his closest Pottsville friend, Robert Simonds: "I'll be a busy man for a long time, what with settling affairs and the like ... My father's death has a great effect on my future plans ... " (Selected Letters, page 13). At nineteen his hopes for college were shattered.

The father-son relationship had been stormy, and there was a mutual feeling that the son, with all his  rebellious, rowdy behavior, had been a disappointment. Two or three years later John left Pottsville for New York, where he struggled for several years before the successful 1934 publication of Appointment in Samarra.


On March 18, 1945, exactly twenty years after the father's death,  Lionel Trilling wrote:

   John O'Hara occupies a unique position in our contemporary literature. He stands alone not by reason of his literary skill, although that is considerable, but by reason of his subject - he is at present the only American writer to whom America presents itself as a social scene in the way it once presented itself to Howells or Edith Wharton, or in the way that England presented itself to Henry James, or France to Proust.
   More than anyone now writing, O'Hara understands the complex, contradictory, asymetrical society in which we live.

"John O'Hara Observes Our Mores," by Lionel Trilling, The New York Times, March 18, 1945, Book Review Section, review of Pipe Night.

On March 19, 1938 "Are We Leaving Tomorrow" was published. The New Yorker. Files on Parade.

On March 20, 1937, "Shave" was published. The New Yorker, Files on Parade.

1 comment:

RGK said...

Trilling also introduced a collection of O'Hara stories for the Modern Library, if I remember correctly.