Home » USA » J. P. Donleavy » The Saddest Summer of Samuel S

J. P. Donleavy: The Saddest Summer of Samuel S

This was published as a novella (his only book with that designation till The Lady Who Liked Clean Rest Rooms published in 1997) – my edition has 122 pages but with large type and wide spacing. As a typical Donleavy hero, Samuel S is adrift in the world, in this case Vienna. He is lost and has been having psychoanalysis for five years but is still no closer to finding his way. Unlike the heroes of Donleavy’s two previous novels, Samuel does not have an active sex life. Indeed, though he would like to get married and have children (again, unlike his predecessors), he rejects any sexual relationship, while still waiting for the great love that has yet to come. Right at the beginning he tells us that he, at last, has had a great insight – That one grows old faster staying in the same place. He makes a precarious living escorting older ladies to concerts and the like. One even wants to give him an income for life. He does meet women. For example, he bumps into a friend of his uncle, purely by chance, and escorts her and her friend around Vienna. But, like George Smith in A Singular Man, Samuel is adrift, lost in space, without a clue and his sad summer ends up with no improvement in his condition.

Publishing history

First published 1966 by Delacorte/Seymour Lawrence