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Appointment In Samarra

By O'Hara, John




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.

First edition identification and notes

Harcourt, Brace & Company first published Appointment in Samarra in 1934. Bound in black cloth, the 301-page first edition states “First Edition” on the copyright page. The dust jacket has the original price of $2.50 printed on the front flap and “Recent Fiction” printed on the back panel (instead of reviews). While true first editions of the novel have sold for upwards of $12,500, first editions signed by O’Hara have sold for twice that.

Other collectible or notable editions

Faber and Faber published the first UK edition of Appointment in Samarra in 1935. 


Available copies: Appointment In Samarra By O'Hara, John


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Appointment in Samarra

O'Hara, John

New York: Harcourt, Brace and Company, 1934. First edition. 301 pp. 1 vols. 8vo. Black cloth. A fine copy in near fine first state dust jacket designed by Maurer (professional restoration to spine ends and top of back panel), in custom half-morocco clamshell box. First edition. 301 pp. 1 vols. 8vo. First Novel, in Jacket, Inscribed. O'Hara's wildly successful first novel, rare enough in an acceptable dust jacket, here with a fine inscription on the flyleaf: "To Lorraine MacLean, in Bullock's Wilshire window. John O'Hara, Sept. 2, 1934" Bruccoli A2.1.a

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$15,000.00

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Appointment in Samarra

O'Hara, John

New York: Harcourt ,Brace, 1934. First edition. O'Hara's first novel, preceded by a shipboard newsletter. Inscribed by O'Hara "To Frankie -- Whose dear little grandchildren won't understand what A. in S. is all about. (Maybe their grandmother can tell them.) John O'Hara. Sept. 21, 1934". Varnished black cloth, wear at head and tail of spine, gilt dulled, front endpaper cracking, otherwise a very good copy in lightly worn dust jacket. Acknowledgements slip tipped in before dedication page. Bruccoli A2.1.a. Preserved in a cloth case with leather label.

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$12,500.00

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Appointment in Samarra.

O'Hara, John

New York: Harcourt, Brace and Company, 1934. First edition of the author's first book. Octavo, original cloth. Fine with a contemporary bookplate to the inner gutter, in the first issue dust jacket with a few small closed tears and general wear. A very nice example. One of the great novels of small-town American life, Appointment in Samarra is John O'Hara's crowning achievement. In December 1930, just before Christmas, the Gibbsville, Pennsylvania, social circuit is electrified with parties and dances. At the center of the social elite stand Julian and Caroline English. But in one rash moment born inside a highball glass, Julian breaks with polite society and begins a rapid descent toward self-destruction. Brimming with wealth and privilege, jealousy and infidelity, O'Hara's iconic first novel is an unflinching look at the dark side of the American dream--and a lasting testament to the keen social intelligence if a major American writer. "[O'Hara] is the only American writer to whom America presents itself as a social scene in the way it once presented itself to Henry James, or France to Proust" (Lionel Trilling, The New York Times). Chosen by Modern Library as one of 100 greatest novels of the twentieth century and was placed by Time Magazine's list of top 100 novels written in English since 1923.

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$5,500.00

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Appointment in Samarra

John O'Hara

New York: Harcourt, Brace and Company, 1934. Cloth. Very Good +/Very Good +. A very solid copy of the 1934 stated 1st edition of John O'Hara's highly-influential first published book, in the true 1st issue dustjacket (with the "$2.50" price and "Recent Fiction" heading to the rear panel). Clean and VG+ to Near Fine (with crisp, completely unflecked gilt-lettering along the spine) in a bright, price-intact, VG+ example of the Alfred Maurer-illustrated dustjacket, with just a bit of very light, negligible chipping along the panel-edges. Thick octavo, also includes the publisher's original "Acknowledgment" slip, which is tipped-in, as called for, before the dedication pg.

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$5,000.00

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Appointment in Samarra

O'HARA, John

New York: Harcourt, Brace and Company. (1934). First. First edition. Errata slip tipped-in. A good copy with the paper over the front hinge slightly repaired, and some smudging or light stains on the glazed front board as usual, a sound, good or a little better copy lacking the dustwrapper. Ownership signature of Anthony Soma ("A. Soma") on front pastedown. Soma was the proprietor of a speakeasy in downtown Manhattan during the Depression (and the father-in-law of John Houston, who married Soma's daughter Enrecca and thus was also the grandfather of Angelica Houston). O'Hara, no stranger to speakeasies, has Inscribed the book on the front fly: "To Tony Soma. John O'Hara. Sept. 10, 1934." O'Hara's famous first book, realistically detailing the three-day disintegration of Julian English in O'Hara's invented city of Gibbsville, Pennsylvania. .

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$3,500.00

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Appointment in Samarra.

O'HARA, John.

New York: Harcourt, Brace and Company, , 1934. Octavo. Finely bound by the Chelsea Bindery, titles and decoration to spine gilt, raised bands, single rule to boards, twin rule to turn ins, burgundy endpapers, gilt edges. An excellent copy in fine binding. First edition, first printing in lovely fine binding.

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$3,268.50

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Appointment in Samarra

O'Hara, John (Bacall, Lauren)

New York, NY: Random House/The Modern Library, 1953. First Edition Thus. Hardcover. Good. The first Modern Library edition, as stated on copyright page, of John O'Hara's classic novel, first published in 1934. With a new forward by the author. This is a very special copy- it is inscribed & signed by O'Hara on the half-title page: "To Betty/This wasn't done/with a wave of the/hand either/Love-/(signed) John O'Hara/19 March 1955." The addressee of the inscription is the legendary Lauren Bacall, whose birth name was Betty. At this time, she was married to iconic actor Humphrey Bogart. A most affectionate & familiar greeting from one great American figure to another. An outstanding collectible with very important cultural & literary significance. Without dust jacket. Book in relatively good condition with mild rubbing to front, back covers & spine; moderate sunning to spine; moderate loss of gilt in title stamp of front cover & spine; very mild wear at edges of covers; tiny bumps at corners of same including miniscule loss of cloth; upper & lower edges of spine moderately worn & with some short tears in cloth; very mild rubbing, soiling & scratching at all trimmed edges of text block. Interior fine with only mild browning at margins of page leaves. Signed & Inscribed by John O'Hara to Lauren Bacall.

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$2,000.00

Appointment In Samarra

O’HARA, JOHN

New York: Harcourt, 1934. First Edition of the Author’s First Novel. Laid in is a terrific Autograph Postcard Signed from John O’Hara dated September 2, 1934 sent from San Francisco and depicting the handsome St. Francis Hotel. Comically addressed to a woman, “Chevalier Charlot Rosenberg” sent to her at a bar named “Tony’s, 59 West 52, New York, NY.” Here I come in a V-8 Phaeton. Lover to Whiskers and the rest of the Reading Club. John O’Hara. In the middle of the card O’Hara has drawn a sketch of himself speeding along in a 1930s phaeton automobile being chased by a motorcycle cop. The postcard was written at the time of Appointment In Samarra’s huge publication success. Very good copy in a later issue dust jacket with some minor dampstaining and a bit of edge wear.

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$1,850.00

Appointment in Samarra

O'Hara, John

New York: Harcourt ,Brace, 1934. Black cloth, faded and rubbed. Third printing. Inscribed by O'Hara "For lyrics that are paramount, try Ira. / John O'Hara / (Music to come.) See pages..........." With Ira Gershwin's ownership signature. O'Hara had been a friend and member of the Gershwin salon, while he was working as a journalist, before he published Appointment in Samarra. On the strength of pre-publication proofs sent them, he landed a screenwriting job with Paramount, although it resulted in nothing for which he was credited.

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$1,750.00

Appointment in Samarra

O'Hara, John

New York: Harcourt, Brace, and Co., 1934 First edition, first printing, with the publisher's errata slip. Publisher's black cloth, lettered in lemon yellow; in the original first issue pictorial dust jacket designed by Alfred Maurer, priced at $2.50 and with "Recent Fiction" to the rear panel, with the iconic deco design of a car driving through a hilled landscape in green, yellow and black, lettered in yellow and black. About very good, with soiling to the cloth, a slight lean to the spine, some faint spotting to the page edges, some minor soiling to the endpapers, otherwise clean interior; unclipped dust jacket, with loss to the spine ends, closed tears to the spine and front flap fold, some wear and minor chipping to the extremities, light toning to the spine, a few minor scuffs to the otherwise bright panels. Overall, a very sturdy and presentable copy of O'Hara's first novel. Appointment in Samarra tells the tragic story of protagonist Julian English as he delves into a downward spiral of self-destruction. Like the fast-paced plot, which takes place over the course of only three days, O'Hara wrote this novel in an expeditious four months when he was only twenty-eight years old. Although criticized for the candor with which he presented socially taboo sexual encounters, Appointment in Samarra is notable for propelling O'Hara to literary prominence.. Illus. by Maurer, Alfred. 1st Edition.. Hardcover.

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$1,500.00

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Appointment in Samarra (Books into Film, First Edition)

O'Hara, John

New York: Harcourt Brace & Company, 1934. Advance Review Copy. Wraps. at least Very Good/Very Good. Illustrated self-wraps (i.e. bound by publisher by gluing the first state dust jacket to the spine of the text block), 8vo (8 inches tall), pp. (viii), 301. This first state of the wrappered Presentation Issue precedes the second state, which lacks the "PRESENTATION EDITION" portion of the "PRESENTATION EDITION / NOT TO BE SOLD" statement, found on the special first gathering page of the first issue. Very Good or better in self-wrappers as issued, with the same wrap-around speedster jacket illustration as the dust jacket that was released on the first edition. Volume with a bump to the head of spine and a resultant short crack to the top front hinge, light edge wear and some fraying along bottom edge of jacket, light soil to rear panel. Date stamp of "JUL 30 1934" with a small number notation in ink to ffep - likely placed by the publisher, thus predating Samarra's official publication date of Aug. 16, 1934 by two weeks. A very presentable copy of a scarce and fragile item. Authors first novel and No. 22 on the Modern Library's list of the best 100 novels of the 20th century. The story describes how, over the course of three days, Julian English destroys himself with a series of impulsive acts, culminating in suicide. Features the iconic DJ design of Alfred Maurer. Preceded by only a small shipboard newsletter that O'Hara edited. Ref. Bruccoli, A2.1.a; Ahearn 002b.

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$1,430.05

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Appointment in Samarra [First State]

O'HARA, John (1905-1970)

New York: Harcourt, Brace, 1934. First Edition, as stated. Hardcover. Fine/Very Good. First Edition, so stated, with the publisher's errata slip tipped tipped in between the copyright and dedication pages, denoting the first state. 8vo: [6],302pp. Publisher's black cloth, spine lettered in gold, top edge stained yellow; second-state pictorial dust jacket (with reviews on back panel), correctly priced $2.50. Fine, square and tight (positively unread), pages immaculate; in a Very Good, completely unrestored jacket, marred chiefly by a v-shaped, one-inch loss to head of the spine, affecting the letters 'ntment' and 'rra;' otherwise clean and vibrant. The author's seminal first novel, easily his most desirable and scarcest work. Bruccoli A2.1.a. Modern Library 100, 22. Time 100. "O’Hara did for fictional Gibbsville, Pennsylvania, what Faulkner did for Yoknapatawpha County, Mississippi: surveyed its social life and drew its psychic outlines. But he did it in utterly worldly terms, without Faulkner’s taste for mythic inference or the basso profundo of his prose. Julian English is a man who squanders what fate gave him. He lives on the right side of the tracks, with a country club membership and a wife who loves him. His decline and fall, over the course of just 72 hours around Christmas, is a matter of too much spending, too much liquor and a couple of reckless gestures. . . . That his calamity is petty and preventable only makes it more powerful." Time 100 Note: With few exceptions (always identified), we only stock books in exceptional condition, with dust jackets carefully preserved in archival, removable polypropylene sleeves. All orders are packaged with care and posted promptly. Satisfaction guaranteed.

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$1,365.00

Appointment in Samarra

O'Hara, John

New York: Harcourt, Brace and Company, 1934. First Edition. Hardcover. Very Good/Very Good. Cloth; dust jacket; 8vo; pp. 301. First printing, with tipped-in errata slip. Second issue dust jacket by Maurer, with reviews on rear panel. Spine tips and lettering rubbed; waterspots on the cloth; ownership signature and faint erased remains of an inscription on FFEP. Dust jacket a bit chipped and torn along the edges; spine somewhat sunned; price-clipped. The author's first novel.

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$1,250.00

Appointment in Samarra (w/author's signature)

O'HARA, John

NY: Harcourt Brace & Co., 1934. This is the true first edition (stated) with the errata slip present. Bound in Black cloth. Slight gilt fading to stamping on spine. Endpapers restored and book tightened. Overall, a very nice copy of O'Hara's first book. Signed by the author on a 1 1/4" X 3" slip of paper affixed to the half-title page. Scarce and collectable. Included in the price of the book is a fine facsimile dustwrapper that fits the book perfectly. . AUTHOR-SIGNED. First Edition. Hard Cover. VG++/Fine (Facsimile DW).

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$975.00

Appointment in Samarra

O'HARA, John

New York:: Harcourt Brace,, [1934]. First edition. publisher's cloth in dust jacket. Slightly cocked; some effacement and oxidation of gold on spine; else a very good copy in a good to very good jacket with some light chipping, creasing, and general use and wear; there are several clear tape reinforcements on the jacket verso.. 8vo,.

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$850.00

Appointment in Samarra

O'Hara, John

Harcourt, Brace and Company. O'Hara, John. Appointment in Samarra. New York: Harcourt, Brace and Company, 1934. 1st edition. 301pp. 8vo. Black cloth with gilt stamped spine. Book condition: Very good. Corners bumped. Light soiling of front and back covers. Spine edges gently bumped with short tear to top edge. Small ink inscription on front pastedown. Dust Jacket Condition: Good. Rubbed and chipped extremities with small losses; a few small closed tears, a two and a three inch long tear to rear joint, all celo taped; 1/2 piece missing from spine bottom. 1st state dust jacket without reviews. O'Hara's first book. Includes errata slip. Cover art is still bright and vivid. . Very Good. 1934.

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$825.00

Appointment in Samarra ; BUtterfield 8 ; Hope of heaven

O'Hara, John

Random House. Used - Good. Ships from Reno, NV. Shows some signs of wear, and may have some markings on the inside. 100% Money Back Guarantee. Shipped to over one million happy customers. Your purchase benefits world literacy!

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$503.96

Appointment in Samarra

O'HARA, John

New York:: Harcourt Brace,, [1934]. Second printing, August, 1934, in the second state of the jacket, with reviews to the back panel. publisher's cloth in dust jacket. The book is cocked, with a few finger marks to cloth; otherwise a very good copy in a very good jacket with some internal tape reinforcement and some browning. The extremities of the spine are lightly chipped. . 8vo,.

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$500.00

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Appointment in Samarra

O'Hara, John

New York: Harcourt, Brace, 1934. Book. Very Good. Hardcover. 1st Edition. Excellent copy, near VG, errata slip included, d/w is from the 1961 reprint version, stated 1st edn with small abrasions to pps 19-22 and closed tear and folds to upper edge of dj...

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$451.97

APPOINTMENT IN SAMARRA

O'Hara, John

New York: Harcourt, Brace and Company, 1934. First Edition. Hard Cover with Dust Jacket. Very Good/Good. Octavo. First issue, 301pp. Bound in black cloth lettered in gilt, covers rubbed, minor wear to spine ends, fore-edges soiled, hinges are fine, errata slip present. In first issue unclipped dust jacket quite chipped and worn. A good copy.

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$400.00