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United States: Essays 1952-1992 - "John O'Hara" (1964) Summary & Analysis

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As a prolific, naturalistic recorder of the social conventions of his time, John O'Hara serves as a mirror for the narcissistic middle class of post-war America, according to Vidal, but should not be taken for a serious, important writer of fiction. Vidal's essay on O'Hara coincided with the publication of Elizabeth Appleton, one of some 30 volumes of stories, plays, essays and novels by O'Hara.

Quoting George Santayana on Somerset Maugham, Vidal says the same observation holds true for O'Hara: "They [stories] are not pleasing, they are not pertinent to one's real interests, they are not true; they are simply graphic or plausible, like a bit of a dream that one might drop into in an afternoon nap." Yet Vidal says the one good reason to seriously consider popular literature is because it reflects "unconscious presuppositions"...

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This section contains 374 words
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Buy the United States: Essays 1952-1992 Study Guide
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