OHara, John Henry

The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

O’Hara, John Henry


Born Jan. 31, 1905, in Pottsville, Pa.; died Apr. 11, 1970, in Princeton, N.J. American writer. Son of a physician.

After graduating from high school, O’Hara worked as a reporter. In the novel Appointment in Samarra (1934) he depicted a rebellious philistine who was, however, incapable of carrying his opposition to bourgeois society to its ultimate conclusion. A touch of fatalism is inherent in many of O’Hara’s works. Typical of his prose, especially in the short stories, are dynamism, sharply delineated plots, a mastery of dialogue, and precise characterization (for example, the collections The Doctor’s Son, 1935; The Cape Cod Lighter, 1962; and Waiting for Winter, 1966). O’Hara’s heroes tormentedly and persistently seek a justification for the years they have spent in pursuit of superficial prosperity (the novels Butterfield 8 [1935] and A Rage to Live [1949; Russian translation, 1970]). The disintegration of a family and the degradation of energetic businessmen who lead amoral, deceitful lives are traced for several generations in the novel The Lock-wood Concern (1965; Russian translation, 1972). A man knowledgeable about provincial backwaters and steeped in the everyday life, mores, and spiritual baggage of the “average American,” O’Hara belonged to the realistic school in 20th-century American prose. He wrote a great deal for Hollywood.


Selected Short Stories. New York, 1956.
Elizabeth Appleton. New York, 1963.
The Horse Knows the Way. New York, 1964.


Allen, U. Traditsiia i mechta. Moscow, 1970. Pages 371–73.
Grebstein, S. N. John O’Hara. New York [1966].
Bruccoli, M. J. John O’Hara: A Checklist. New York [1972].


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.