Segal, Erich: Oliver's Story
(researched by Julia Richardson)

Assignment 1: Bibliographical Description
1 First edition publication information (publisher, place, date, etc.)
Published on March 7, 1977 by Harper& Row Publishers, Inc. New York, New York. Published simultaneously in Toronto, Canada by Fitzhenry and Whiteside Limited.
2 First edition published in cloth, paper, or both? If both, simultaneous or staggered?
The first edition was published in yellow cloth, hardcover.
3 JPEG image of cover art from first edition, if available
4 Pagination
1[Oliver's Story] 2[blank] 3[title page] 4 [copywright page] 5[dedication page] 6[blank] 7[author's note] 8[blank] 9[Oliver's story] 10[ blank] 1-10[unnumbered] 11-264[text] 31 lines of text per page. Total of number of leaves is 132.
5 Edited or Introduced? If so, by whom?
No introduction or editing
6 Illustrated? If so, by whom?
No illustrations
7 JPEG image of sample illustration, if available
8 General physical appearance of book (Is the physical presentation of the text attractive? Is the typography readable? Is the book well printed?)
The book appears to be well printed. The text is easy to read with approximatly 12 point font. The page margins are large with 31 lines of text per page except for the first and last page of chapters. Each chapter is numbered with a large chapter number. On the spine is black lettering: OLIVER'S STORY SEGAL Harper & Row. The front cover is yellow with the title imprinted without coloring therefore it is hard to see. The dust jacket is cream colored with 'Oliver's |SToRY' |ERICH SEGAL|author of LOVE STORY on the front. "Oliver's" is written in black block letters while "SToRY" is written in orange lettering with a blue background. The middle of the 'o' in story is filled in with green. The back of the dust jacket portrays a full size black and white photo headshot of Segal.
9 JPEG image of sample chapter page, if available
10 Paper (Assess the original quality of the paper used for the book. Is the paper in the copy or copies you examined holding up physically over time?)
The book is printed on yellowish-white, uncoated, fairly-thick paper. The edges of the paper are rough so that each page appears to be individually cut. Additionally, no two pages extend the same length from the binding so that they appear to have been individually put in place. The book seems to be of good quality with no torn pages.
11 Description of binding(s)
The binding is in yellow cloth backstrip (see general appearence). The pages of Oliver's Story have been sewn together and then glued to the binding strip.
12 Transcription of title page
'Oliver's Story/ by Erich Segal/ HARPER & ROW [logo] PUBLISHERS- New York, Hagerstown, San Fancisco, London'
13 JPEG image of title page, if available
14 Manuscript Holdings
No holdings available. I assume this is because Erich Segal is still alive and may have them in his possession.
15 Other (typograpical information from title page, etc.)
I was able to find another copy of the first edition in the public library which included the original binding and the dust jacket.
Assignment 2: Publication and Performance History
1 Did the original publisher issue the book in more than one edition? If so, briefly describe distinguishing features of each (illustrations, cover art, typography, etc.); if not, enter N/A
The original publisher, Harper & Row Publishers, issued the first edition of Oliver's Story in two versions: the first edition previously described in assignment one; and a book club version. The book club edition has smaller printed text and therefore is 181 pages compared to 264 pages in the other first edition. There are a few minor variations in terms of aesthetics. The casing differs in that on the spine is black lettering: OLIVER'S STORY SEGAL Harper & Row. The front cover is yellow with the title imprinted without coloring therefore it is hard to see. The dust jacket is cream colored with 'Oliver's | SToRY | ERICH SEGAL | author of LOVE STORY on the front. "Oliver's" is written in black block letters while "SToRY" is written in orange lettering with a blue background. The middle of the 'o' in "story" is filled with green. The back of the dust jacket portrays a full size black and white photo headshot of Segal. The inside of the jacket portrays a brief plot summary with "Book Club Edition" on the front flap. First hand examination of the novel was available through the Jefferson-Madison Regional Library, call number- F Segal.
2 JPEG image of cover art from one subsequent edition, if available
3 JPEG image of sample illustration from one subsequent edition, if available
4 How many printings or impressions of the first edition?
The first printing of Oliver's Story was 125,000. It was then sent back to the printers for a second printing of 100,000 bringing the total to 225,000. Source: Publisher's Weekly, Vol. 211 January- March 1977, p106.
5 Editions from other publishers? If so, list their dates and publishers; if not, enter N/A
Editions from other publishers and date of publication: *date given is earliest publication of Oliver's Story Bantam Books, New York 1988 International Collectors Library, Garden City, NY 1977 Avon, New York 1978 1977 G.K. Hall, Boston 1977
6 Last date in print?
The book is in print as of 1999 with Bantam Publishers. Source: Books in Print 1996-1997, vol.7,Titles L-Q, New Providence, NJ: R.R. Bowker, p.5992
7 Total copies sold? (source and date of information?)
This information was unavailable but I have emailed the publisher to obtain accurate data.
8 Sales figures by year? (source and date of information?)
This information is unavaliable.
9 Advertising copy (transcribe significant excerpts, briefly identify where ads were placed)
Ad placed in The New York Times Book Review, Jan-June 1977, week of March 13, 1977, p. 41: "The book | that begins | where | Love Story | ends." "Oliver's | SToRY" "A novel by | Erich | Segal" "'Every reader of Love Story and every viewer of the film will enjoy Oliver's Story." -Barbara Bannon, Publishers Weekly Harper & Row | 3rd printing $7.95 Ad is illustrated with a picture of the first edition in its dust jacket. Ad placed in The New York Times Book Review, Jan-June 1977, week of March 20, 1977, p. 18-19: "Get Today's Most Enjoyable Best Sellers." "Any 4 for $1 When you join The Literary Guild" "Oliver's Story" 7351 $7.95 The Literary Guild Dept. LR514, Garden City, NY 11530 Full two page advertisement for many books including Oliver's Story. Picture of the book's cover.
10 JPEG image of sample advertisement, if available
11 Other promotion
Information regarding other forms of promotion was not found.
12 Performances in other media? If so, list media, date, title, production information; if not, enter N/A
Oliver's Story [video recording] was filmed by Paramount Home Video in 1985. It is in VHS format and was produced by David V. Picker, directed by John Korty and screenplay by Erich Segal. Oliver's Story is also available in audio cassette recording. Center for Cassette Studies, 1977. 1 cassette: 29 minute interview where Erich Segal discloses the perils of success and why a sequel to Love Story was necessary.
13 Translations? If translated, give standard bibliographic information for each translation. If none, enter N/A
The following translations have been done of Oliver's Story: The translations are listed according to country of publication. Argentina: Oliver's Story, Buenos Aires; Emece Editores, 1977 China: Ao-li-fu ti ku shih, Shang-hai; Shang-hai i wen ch'u pan she, 1997 Croatia: Oliverova Prica, Zagreb; Znanje, 1978 France: Oliver's Story:roman, Paris; Editions J'ailu, 1988 1977 Japan: Oliver's Story, Tokyo; Tokyo Publishers, 1978 Korea: Ollibo sut'ori, Soul-si; Pomusa, 1986 Poland: Opowiesc Oliwera, Poznan; Podsiedlik Raniowski i Spolka, 1994 Spain: Oliver's Story, Madrid; Ultramar Editores, 1979
14 Serialization? If serialized, give standard bibliographic information for serial publication. If none, enter N/A
No information indicates that the book was serialized.
15 Sequels/Prequels? Give standard bibliographic information for each. If none, enter N/A
The book has a prequel: Segal, Erich. Love Story. New York: Harper & Row, 1970
Assignment 3: Biographical Sketch of the Author
1 Paste your biographical sketch here (maximum 500 words)
Erich Wolf Segal has lead a very successful life as an accomplished writer. He was born in June 16, 1937 in Brooklyn, New York, the first of three sons born of rabbi Samuel Michael and Cynthia Shapiro Segal. He graduated from Harvard University in 1958 as the first student in the school's history to be both Latin Salutatorian and Class poet. After graduation he became a professor of comparative literature at Yale where he was received with abounding interest. All of his classes "drew overflow attendance and were branded 'star performances'" by his students, reports Robert Thomas, Jr. from The New York Times Book Review. It was during his time at Yale in 1970 that Love Story, the bestselling novel and prequel to Oliver's Story was published. From this novel, he gained instant fame at the young age of 32. He later taught at Princeton University and acted as a visiting professor at the University of Munich, Princeton University, Tel Aviv University, Dartmouth College and Brown University at various times in his career. It was on June 10,1975 that Segal married Karen Marianne James. They eventually had one daughter, Francesca. From this point on, Segal dedicated his life to writing and the love of literature. Erich Segal not only wrote novels but also articles, musicals, and screenplays, including Odyssey(1971), Sing Muse!(1961-2), The Comedy of Platautus(1968), Yellow Submarine(1968), The Games(1970), R.P.M. (1970), Jennifer on My Mind(1971), Oliver's Story(1978), A Change of Seasons(1981),and The Class(1985). With the success of his bestseller Love Story, Segal wrote a sequel, Oliver's Story, in 1977. However, Oliver's Story did not receive as much instant praise as Love Story but did manage to reach number one on Publisher Weekly's bestseller list for March 28, 1977. The novel remained in the top ten on the bestsellers list for the months of March and April. Barbara Bannon from Publisher's Weekly praises Segal's newest work in saying, "Every reader of Love Story and every viewer of the film will enjoy Oliver's Story." According to a 1980 interview in the New York Times, Oliver's Story was "written under the duress of self-doubt, writer's block and the curse of being called a one-off writer." Segal gives Oliver's Story a "let's wrap it up" finality that was missing from Love Story. Although Oliver's Story was not a critical success, it did recieve a few positive reviews including one in Best Seller's June 1977 edition. H.T. Anderson declares, "The book is filled with right-on issues and right-on people, bright people(legal and energetic and concerned) who punctuate with four letter words and are covered with youth and honesty." Similar to Love Story, Oliver's Story is extremely corny and resembles the kind of capricious absurdity found in fables. As West Coast Review of Books declares:
Segal spins quite a tale and has a style that certainly works for this Hollywood-oriented genre. Witty rather than weighty, the novel provides a few hours of diversionary reading that should make Avon Paperbacks not one whit sorry for the price they coughed up for the rights.
After publishing Oliver's Story in 1977 and gaining minimal success, Segal began his next big novel, The Class which was published in 1985. Also during this time in his life, Segal began to enjoy his celebrity status by making televison appearances including an appearance on the "Today Show." He even worked as a sports commentator for the 1972 Olymipic Games. Currently, his papers rest at the Harvard Theatre Collection in the Harvard College Library in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Erich Segal is 61 and now living in England with his wife Karen.
Assignment 4: Reception History
1 Paste contemporary reception history in here (maximum 500 words)
At the begining of the 1970's, Erich Segal was in the prime of his career. After publishing the bestselling novel, Love Story in 1970, Segal produced sequel, Oliver's Story in 1977. Unfortunately, to Segal's dismay, Oliver's Story was not received as enthusiastically as the bestselling novel, Love Story. Although Oliver's Story eventually reached the top of the bestsellers list on March 28, 1977, it did not gain the immediate praise and success which its prequel Love Story received. As a result, there remains a variety of mixed reviews on Oliver's Story ranging from Publisher Weekly's, Barbara Bannon declaring,"every reader of Love Story and every viewer of the film will enjoy Oliver's Story to Booklist Magazine's June 1, 1977 review stating,"on a par stylistically with Love Story the sequel, Oliver's Story, is suggested for storage where Love Story continues in popular demand." Most contemporary reviews appeared around the spring of 1977 within a variety of periodicals and journals. Unfortunately, most of the reviews focus on the highly acclaimed Love Story or Segal's other successful work, The Class. After 1977, there are no significant contemporary critiques focusing specifically on Oliver's Story, but the novel is mentioned in subsequent interviews with Segal and in critiques about his later works. The New York Times Book Review novelist noted that within Oliver's Story:"Segal is able to...keep the plot moving. He is a good enough storyteller that despite the dead language, the reader still wants to find out what happens to his characters." However, the majority of the reviews were less positive, holding Segal to the high literary standards of his early career. These critics doubt the quality of Segal's prose and his efficiency in Oliver's Story. In another review from the March 6, 1977 New York Times Book Review, Christopher Lehmann-Haupt states that,"Erich Segal's Love Story was a decent enough novel...the question then is, does its sequel,Oliver's Story, live up to it? I don't think so!" This negative review of the novel goes on to argue that Oliver's Story lacks symmetry of plot, contrast of character type, and an inconsistency in Segal's prose and dialogue. Gerald Clarke of Time magazine criticizes Oliver's Story in the harshest of manners by stating,"not that Love Story was so good -in any way. It is simply that the sequel is so wretched-in every way." Clarke claims that the novel drags on and even the "lover of decent prose is miserable" while reading Oliver's Story. In conclusion, Clarke summarizes his review by arguing that "only Erich Segal is happy about the novel-1.5 million richer." Despite mixed reviews for Oliver's Story, and other setbacks, including nearly dying from a blood disorder in 1982, Erich Segal has managed to persevere. In an interview with Wendy Smith of the Chicago Tribune, Segal says, "I'll never be the critics' darling, but I would like to be a better writer...It's the opposite of running, where you get slower every year. In writing, you sometimes get better every year. I'd like to keep on improving."
2 Paste subsequent reception history in here (maximum 500 words)
At the begining of the 1970's, Erich Segal was in the prime of his career. After publishing the bestselling novel, Love Story in 1970, Segal produced sequel, Oliver's Story in 1977. Unfortunately, to Segal's dismay, Oliver's Story was not received as enthusiastically as the bestselling novel, Love Story. Although Oliver's Story eventually reached the top of the bestsellers list on March 28, 1977, it did not gain the immediate praise and success which its prequel Love Story received. As a result, there remains a variety of mixed reviews on Oliver's Story ranging from Publisher Weekly's, Barbara Bannon declaring,"every reader of Love Story and every viewer of the film will enjoy Oliver's Story to Booklist Magazine's June 1, 1977 review stating,"on a par stylistically with Love Story the sequel, Oliver's Story, is suggested for storage where Love Story continues in popular demand." Most contemporary reviews appeared around the spring of 1977 within a variety of periodicals and journals. Unfortunately, most of the reviews focus on the highly acclaimed Love Story or Segal's other successful work, The Class. After 1977, there are no significant contemporary critiques focusing specifically on Oliver's Story, but the novel is mentioned in subsequent interviews with Segal and in critiques about his later works. The New York Times Book Review novelist noted that within Oliver's Story:"Segal is able to...keep the plot moving. He is a good enough storyteller that despite the dead language, the reader still wants to find out what happens to his characters." However, the majority of the reviews were less positive, holding Segal to the high literary standards of his early career. These critics doubt the quality of Segal's prose and his efficiency in Oliver's Story. In another review from the March 6, 1977 New York Times Book Review, Christopher Lehmann-Haupt states that,"Erich Segal's Love Story was a decent enough novel...the question then is, does its sequel,Oliver's Story, live up to it? I don't think so!" This negative review of the novel goes on to argue that Oliver's Story lacks symmetry of plot, contrast of character type, and an inconsistency in Segal's prose and dialogue. Gerald Clarke of Time magazine criticizes Oliver's Story in the harshest of manners by stating,"not that Love Story was so good -in any way. It is simply that the sequel is so wretched-in every way." Clarke claims that the novel drags on and even the "lover of decent prose is miserable" while reading Oliver's Story. In conclusion, Clarke summarizes his review by arguing that "only Erich Segal is happy about the novel-1.5 million richer." Despite mixed reviews for Oliver's Story, and other setbacks, including nearly dying from a blood disorder in 1982, Erich Segal has managed to persevere. In an interview with Wendy Smith of the Chicago Tribune, Segal says, "I'll never be the critics' darling, but I would like to be a better writer...It's the opposite of running, where you get slower every year. In writing, you sometimes get better every year. I'd like to keep on improving."
Assignment 5: Critical Analysis
1 Paste your critical analysis in here (maximum 2500 words)
Erich Segal's Oliver's Story was the long awaited sequel to his 1970 masterpiece, Love Story. Published on March 7, 1977, Oliver's Story unfortunately did not receive the immediate fame gained by its predecessor, Love Story. The sequel focuses on the continued life of a still grieving Oliver Barret who mourns the death of his wife Jenny Cavilleri. He has a bad case of survivor guilt therefore tries a shrink and jogging. Then the gorgeous, athletic, smart, blonde Marcie Nash comes jogging around the Central Park Reservoir and into Oliver's life. Everything seems as though it is going to be wonderful until Oliver discovers that Marcie's department store, Binnendale, is built on the empire of sweatshops and employing cheap foreign labor. On discovering this, Oliver breaks all ties with Marcie while subliminally suggesting a "Buy American" plea. This avid turn against Marcie and the sweatshop labor is Oliver's recognition that he supports American made products and child labor laws. The reviews for this novel range from outright praise to utter disappointment. Critics who praise Segal declare "that every reader of Love Story and every viewer of the film will enjoy Oliver's Story(Publisher's Weekly). Other critics view this novel as "on a par stylistically with Love Story the sequel, Oliver's Story, is suggested for storage where Love Story is still in popular demand" (Booklist Magazine). The New York Times Book Review novelist noted that within Oliver's Story: "Segal is able to keep the plot moving. He is a good enough storyteller that despite the dead language, the reader still wants to find out what happens to his characters." However, the majority of the reviews are less positive. Most critics doubt the quality of prose and efficiency within Oliver's Story. In a review from the March 6, 1977 New York Times Book Review, Christopher Lehmann-Haupt states that, Erich Segal's Love Story was a decent enough novel?the question then is, does its sequel, Oliver's Story, live up to it? I don't think so!" This negative review of the novel continues by stating that Oliver's Story lacks symmetry of plot, contrast of character type and an inconsistency in dialogue and prose. Gerald Clark of Time Magazine criticizes Oliver's Story in the harshest of manners by stating, "not that Love Story was so good-in any way. It is simply that the sequel is so wretched-in every way." Clark claims that the novel drags on and even the "lover of decent prose is miserable" while reading Oliver's Story. After reading negative review after negative review, one may question how such a mixed review novel ever reaches the top of the bestseller list. For between April 10th and April 24th 1977, Segal's Oliver's Story topped the New York Times best sellers list. There can be three reasons for the popularity associated with this novel: the anticipation as a sequel to Love Story, the wide variety of age and gender which this novel is geared towards, and the focus of the economic boom in the late seventies and early eighties. The most obvious and logical reason for this novel's success lies in the fact it was a sequel to the best-selling masterpiece, Love Story. Everyone was curious as to what was going to happen to Oliver after Jenny's death. After enjoying Love Story, and the praise that it was renowned with, readers could not wait to experience Segal's Oliver's Story. Readers expected Segal to continue his highly intriguing prose, dialogue and style from Love Story directly into Oliver's Story. Unfortunately, the reader's expectations where meet short-for Segal was already handicapped by having done away with Jenny in the last novel. By no means does Marcie live up to the highly entertaining and involved lover that Jenny was for Oliver. The reader never becomes thoroughly interested in their relationship and does not care much whether or not Oliver works out with her. As a result, the success gained by Oliver's Story was short lived and quickly fell from the bestseller list only one month after crowing the top. For this to happen, one can conclude that Oliver's Story was originally successful due to it's anticipated continuation of the highly acclaimed Love Story yet once read, it did not meet that expectation. However, the book was still widely read because of its simple, appealing, young adult style. Since the book was geared toward a wide variety of readers, young and old, male and female, it still was read and enjoyed by millions. The straightforward, direct approach, through which Segal presents Oliver and Marcie's relationship encourages the readers, interest. Other best selling novels during the late seventies also focused on the ideal relationship between high-class women and men. The public's new interest in high-class living is exemplified through Oliver's Story by the expensive cars, food, clothing, and overall extravagant lifestyle which Oliver and Marcie live. During the late seventies, the nation was going through a time of economic uplifting which eventually lead to the booming eighties. For Segal and other novelist of the late seventies it was a time to focus their attention on the high-class lifestyle. Through their novels, they were showing readers what effects an economic boom has on everyday life. Readers were fascinated by the lifestyle which Oliver and Marcie lived and were eager themselves to achieve that lifestyle through hard work and the eventual roaring eighties. All readers wanted to experience this and in turn see what they dreamed the future would bring. Some may even credit Segal for encouraging high-class lifestyle and the eventual economic boom of the early eighties. For by creating a novel, which exemplifies a wealthy lifestyle, Segal was allowing all readers to see how money can effect your living. Although Erich Segal's Oliver's Story was by no means as successful and well received as Love Story, at one time it crowned our nations bestseller list. Most of its success can be credited to the fact that it was the sequel to Love Story. However, as described above, Oliver's Story also achieved popularity due to its focus on the new economic lifestyle of the late seventies and its gearing toward all audiences. One must praise Erich Segal for persevering through creating a sequel to Love Story and attempting to maintain the heralded success of his best-selling novel.
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