Segal, Erich: Love Story
(researched by Amanda Shaver)

Assignment 1: Bibliographical Description

1 First edition publication information (publisher, place, date, etc.)

The first edition of Love Story, by Erich Segal, was published by Harper and Row in 1970. The book was published in New York, Evanston, and London, and was concurrently published in Canada by Fitzhenry and Whiteside Limited, in Toronto. The book actually began as the script for the 1970 movie.

2 First edition published in cloth, paper, or both? If both, simultaneous or staggered?

The first edition of the book was published in cloth.

3 JPEG image of cover art from first edition, if available

4 Pagination

72 leaves, pp. [4] 1-131, [2]

5 Edited or Introduced? If so, by whom?

The book was not edited or introduced.

6 Illustrated? If so, by whom?

The book was not illustrated.

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 leaflet of the book is very simple and appealing, with the title in large, mixed sized letters in orange, blue and green. The authorís name is smaller and printed in black. The actual cover of the book is half green and half white. The title is printed in script and imprinted on the green half of the front cover. The text is well printed and narrow, making the pages easy to read. The type appears to be transitional.

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 cream colored paper in the first edition has held up well over time. The pages smell aged, and some have careless spills, but otherwise the paper is in good condition. The pages are thick and fairly heavy.

11 Description of binding(s)

The book has a flexible back, stitched binding that has held up well in time. There is, however, a tiny, loose string hanging from the binding, but it could easily be fixed and hopefully will not lead to further problems with the bookís condition.

12 Transcription of title page


13 JPEG image of title page, if available

14 Manuscript Holdings

I was unable to locate manuscript holdings.

15 Other (typograpical information from title page, etc.)

Love Story actually began as a script by Segal. His literary agent, Lois Wallace, insisted that he turn the script into a novel.

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

N/A (My research has not shown any other editions by Harper & Row)

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?

Originally there were 57,000 copies of Love Story printed. By the end of 1970, there were 430,000. 4,350,000 copies of the paperback edition were published on November 18, 1970. The copies sold so well that the following day, 600,000 more printings were made. One month after the paperback was introduced, the hardback was still selling at 2000 books a week.

5 Editions from other publishers? If so, list their dates and publishers; if not, enter N/A

(National Association for Visually Handicapped, 1999) International Book Centre, Incorporated, 1997 Buccaneer Books, 1994 Bantam Books, 1988 Avon Books, 1978 Hodder, UK, 1971 American Printing House for the Blind, 1970. School Textbook: Oxford, UP (UK) 1991.

6 Last date in print?

1997 by International Book Centre, Incorporated.

7 Total copies sold? (source and date of information?)

As of 1988, there were 21 million copies sold. (SOURCE: Love Story, by Erich Segal, published by Bantam Books in 1988). I am still searching for a current figure via Harpercollins publishers.

8 Sales figures by year? (source and date of information?)

Still looking...

9 Advertising copy (transcribe significant excerpts, briefly identify where ads were placed)

"LOVE STORY is probably as sophisticated | as any commercial American movie ever | made! Perfection! It is beautiful!| And romantic!"| -Vincent Canby, New York Times |îLove Story is wrapped in glittering | Ali MacGraw and Ryan OíNeal just in |time for holiday giving!| Ali MacGraw | promises to become the closest thing to a | movie star of the 40ís! She is genuinely | touching! When a Radcliffe girl chooses | to die on screen the Academy Awardís | can be heard softly rustling like | Kleenexes in the background!| Ryan OíNeal gives the character of | Oliver Barrett IV warmth and vulnerability!| LOVE STORY...glows like gold!î|-Time Magazine (SOURCE: New York Times, December 21, 1970. Page 51, section one.)

10 JPEG image of sample advertisement, if available

11 Other promotion

A banner was placed in New York City after the opening of the film that read, ìAll of New York Loves Love Story.î

12 Performances in other media? If so, list media, date, title, production information; if not, enter N/A

ìLove Storyî (1970) Malofilm Group, Paramount Picures. Rated PG. Starring Ali MacGraw, Ryan OíNeal, Ray Milland, and John Marley. Directed by Arthur Hiller. Produced by Howard G. Minsky. 99 minutes. In the first two weeks of its history, the movie made $321,688, the most profitable two weeks for any movie made before December, 1970. Segal also helped write the lyrics for the theme song to the movie. The film was nominated for seven Academy Awards and won for Fancis Laiís musical score. The cassette recording of the book was published by Oxford, UP (UK)in 1997. Love Story was also read on cassette by Erich Segal in 1985. It was published by Caedmon in New York.

13 Translations? If translated, give standard bibliographic information for each translation. If none, enter N/A

Published by Hseuh lin Shutien. (Chinese translation) 1971, 1973. Published by Soul. (Korean translation) Pomusa, 1979, 1989 printing. Published by Editions Laffont. (French translation) Canada, 1979. Published by Xuan Thu. (Vietnamese translation) Texas, 1983(?). Published by Plaza and Janes. (Spanish translation) Barcelona, 1987. Published by Ediciones Orbis. (Spanish translation) Barcelona, 1987. Published by Librio. (French translation) France, 1994. Published by Jíai Lu. (French translation) France, 1997.

14 Serialization? If serialized, give standard bibliographic information for serial publication. If none, enter N/A

Love Story was serialized in Ladies Home Journal, in February of 1970.

15 Sequels/Prequels? Give standard bibliographic information for each. If none, enter N/A

Oliverís Story, by Erich Segal. Published by G.K. Hall & Company, 1977, Harpercollins,1977, Avon 1978, Bantam 1988.

Assignment 3: Biographical Sketch of the Author

1 Paste your biographical sketch here (maximum 500 words)

According to a 1971 Gallup poll, Love Story was read by one out of every five Americans, rendering author Erich Segal a celebrity at age thirty-two. An accomplished writer and professor, Segal was a hurricane in the early seventies, tearing through the hearts of millions of readers captivated by his story about dying young. Erich Wolf Segal was born on June 16, 1937 in Brooklyn, New York, the first of three sons born of Cynthia Segal and rabbi Samuel M. Segal. He was an accomplished student at the Crown Heights Yeshiva and Midwood High School. Before graduating from high school he began attending classes at the Jewish Theological Seminary in Manhattan, and traveled to the Institut Monnivert in Switzerland for summer sessions. Segal did his undergraduate work at Harvard College starting in 1954, where he was on the track team and became the first to graduate from Harvard as both the class poet and Latin salutatorian. Segal wrote his dissertation, "Roman Holiday Humor: The Plays of Plautus as Festival Comedy," and taught humanities as completion of his graduate work at Harvard. He was a professor of comparative literature at Yale when Love Story was published in 1970. He later taught at Princeton, and acted as a visiting professor for the University of Munich, Princeton University, and Dartmouth College at various times in his career. Segal authored many novels, books, articles, and screenplays, including Sing Muse! (1961-2), The Comedy of Plautus (1968), The Yellow Submarine (1968), Love Story (1970), R.P.M. (1970), Jennifer on My Mind (1971), Fairy Tale (1973), Oliver's Story (1977), Man, Woman and Child (1980), A Change of Seasons (1981), The Class (1985), Doctors (1988), and Acts of Faith (1992). He also edited several collections of essays, and translated three comedies by Plautus. Love Story began as an unsuccessful screenplay, but at the insistence of his agent, Lois Wallace of the William Morris Agency, he submitted the script in novel form to editor Gene Young at Harper and Row. The book went on to sell more than twenty-one million copies. With the aid of Paramount Pictures, the novel became a prosperous movie, even winning several Golden Globe awards and Oscar nominations. For a time, Love Story ruled the literature and entertainment world. Despite the popular reception, some critics despised the concept of Love Story. When the book was up for the 1971 National Book Award, members of the award committee were not pleased with the choice and rejected it entirely. However, Segal did enjoy most of his celebrity status, making appearances on the Today Show and the Dick Cavett Show. He also was a judge at the Cannes Film Festival, and served as a commentator for the 1972 Olympics. On June 10, 1975, Segal married Karen Marianne James. Together they had two daughters and one son, since deceased. His papers from 1965 to 1970 rest at the Harvard Theatre Collection in the Harvard College Library in Cambridge, Massachusetts. The papers contain drafts of the famous Love Story. Segal's novel lives on in the tears of newcomers and in those who keep coming back to the epic tale. Note: I am still searching for information about Mr. Segal's current residence.

Assignment 4: Reception History

1 Paste contemporary reception history in here (maximum 500 words)

Reviewers of Erich Segal's Love Story could hardly explain the phenomenon caused by the novel's publication in 1970. The book was favorably reviewed, and several critics were admittedly reduced to tears by its end. These same reviewers had a difficult time describing what they found appealing without mentioning the book's major flaws. William McPherson of the Washington Post, wrote "It [Love Story] does not try to be more than the title implies, and picking away at what's wrong with it would be a pointless exercise. It can be read in little more than an hour and put aside, leaving a pleasant aftertaste and no uncomfortable thoughts." The simplicity, the sickly sweet dialogue, the seemingly useless four letter words, and the overused "wealth family forbids marriage to poor family" theme are all valid reviewer complaints, but still they managed to find the positive in the tale. The wrenching scenes of Jenny's death induced tears from the public, and most critics could not help but join them. Character development was noticeably lacking, but in anticipation of the Love Story movie, Martin Levin wrote in The New York Times Book Review, "The relationship between Oliver and his father is overly stylized along stiff upper-lip lines-but no matter. These are heartcrunching universals. When they are put on film, the lines are going to lap the Music Hall threefold by 11 A.M." However, for the several strong voiced critics that disliked Love Story, the reaction was brutal. In Newsweek, S.K. Oberbeck demonstrated his opposition to the success of the book when he wrote, "The banality of ?Love Story' makes ?Peyton Place' look like ?Swann's Way' as it skips from cliché to cliché with an abandon that would chill even the blood of a True Romance editor." Christopher Lehmann-Haupt agreed when he wrote in The New York Times, "You can resist the charm and bounciness of ?Love Story' on the ground that it should have stayed in Ladies' Home Journal where portions of it first appeared; on the ground that it isn't even semi-serious literature, or on the suspicion that its author, who co-authored Yellow Submarine and teaches classics and comp lit at Yale, is just too darned facile." The public fell in love with Love Story despite its flaws, and reviewers were inclined to agree that there was something charming and inherently tragic about such a simple love story. BOOK REVIEWS 1. Atlantic June 1970 by Edward Weeks 2. Best Sellers March 15, 1970 by Carolyn Riley 3. Horn Book April 1970 by M.S. Cosgrave 4. Library Journal February 1, 1970 by S.A. Haffner 5. Library Journal May 15, 1970 6. Newstatesman August 28, 1970 by Campbell Black 7. New York Times Book Review March 8, 1970 8. New Yorker February 28, 1970 9. Newsweek March 9, 1970 10. TLS September 4, 1970 11. American Library July 1970 12. America May 2, 1970 13. Books and Bookmen October 1970 14. Booklist April 15, 1970 15. Booklist September 1, 1970 16. Booklist July 15, 1971 17. Booklist July 15, 1972 18. English Journal November 1973 19. Kirkus Reviews December 1, 1969 20. Listener April 1, 1971 21. National Observer February 23, 1970 22. New Yorker October 24, 1970 23. New York Times February 13, 1970 24. Observer (London) January 10, 1971 25. Observer (London) August 23, 1970 26. Publisher's Weekly December 1, 1969 27. Publisher's Weekly October 19, 1970 28. Saturday Review December 26, 1970 29. Times Literary Supplement September 4, 1970 30. Top of the News April 1971

2 Paste subsequent reception history in here (maximum 500 words)

Maybe you have heard the phrase, "Love means not ever having to say you're sorry." Jennifer Cavilleri's famous line from Erich Segal's Love Story is one of those expressions that seems vaguely familiar but hard to place. Erich Segal had this effect on people in 1970 with his best-selling novel, Love Story. Segal remained for a time a public figure; the Love Story movie was a success, he faced the widespread taunts of his undergraduate students at Yale after the publication of Love Story, and he eventually wrote a fairly disastrous sequel for Oliver, the poor widower from his first novel. Since about 1973, there has been little mention of Love Story except when Segal popped out a new bestseller, as he did several times in the eighties. Around the time of Segal's publication of The Class, he was quoted in People Weekly in 1985 as saying "But am I really sorry I wrote ?Love Story'? Bull----. I'm overjoyed I did." Thus the only lasting effects of Love Story occur when the Cavilleri phrase is suitable for a situation, or when Segal's defenses are up after the publication one of his later novels.

Assignment 5: Critical Analysis

1 Paste your critical analysis in here (maximum 2500 words)

How do you explain the popularity of a novel that made people cry oceans of tears all over the world? Two words may help: Love and Story. Put them together, and you have Love Story, the 1970 bestseller by Erich Segal that sold over twenty-one million copies and was translated into twenty-three languages. It is the tragic story of Jennifer Cavilleri and Oliver Barrett IV, young lovers at Harvard who face being disowned by the Barrett family if they choose to marry, which they do, of course. Jenny supports Oliver through law school only then to succumb to leukemia's untimely clutches. The tragedy teaches everyone a lesson, most importantly Oliver's father, as he comes around to offer his help to Oliver (one minute too late). Love Story was plagued by indecisive reviews; some detested the tale, some adored it, some felt both extremes. But, as Christopher Lehmann-Haupt wrote in his New York Times review of the novel in 1970, "Nevertheless, about two-thirds of the way through, a lump forms in the throat and starts growing until it feels like a football coming up sideways." The popularity of Love Story rested strongly on the world's desire for an escape from the sounds of war and destruction in the 1970's. The older crowd connected to the tragic simplicity of the tale, while the younger, more rebellious types related to the constraints of young love and class divisions. Thus, Love Story captivated the minds and souls of everyone. America was a vulnerable nation in the early seventies. She had recently faced the rough years of the Civil Rights movement, the assassinations of several public figures, and conflicts overseas. In 1965 the United States became intertwined with the war in Vietnam and severed their long and arduous involvement in 1973. The drafting procedures were messy and unwelcome additions to the conflict. People protested and rebelled against the war and the nation's participation. The hippie movement began, and drug abuse was prevalent, perhaps to numb the fear or hurt; the effects of a nation at an undeclared war with itself. In 1970, the year of Segal's publication, the violence was intensifying on television screens all over the United States. Scenes of the distant war brought home the grief and dismay, and worry gripped the nation. Love Story was an oasis of simplicity and euphemism in this time of despair. The novel dripped with the perfect mix of romance and tragedy, and society eagerly soaked up its message. Reviewers who held lavish praise for Love Story lauded its ability to say so much with so little. Its elementary prose and descriptions provided a window of an hour or two to sit and read the one hundred and thirty page novel. In fact, the paperback version is about as light as the bookmark you will never need in reading the story. The following is an example of Segal's bare, yet entertaining writing style. Here, Oliver first discovers the girl he is to marry, Jennifer Cavilleri:

I got an A minus on the exam, coincidentally the same grade I assigned to Jenny's legs when she first walked from behind that desk. I can't say I gave her costume an honor grade, however; it was a bit too Boho for my taste. I especially loathed that Indian thing she carried for a handbag. Fortunately I didn't mention this, as I later discovered it was of her own design. (Love Story, p. 3)
Segal created a pocket-sized novel that was a breeze to read, and impossible to put down. The crass language, while offending some older readers, provided a way of identity for the younger generations. Also appealing to the adolescent crowd was the theme of rebellion against parental control. Oliver is disinherited by his wealthy father for marrying Jenny, a poor girl of Italian descent, the daughter of a pastry maker. Oliver gives up his free ticket to law school and years of wealth, but he does it all for love. Oliver's father returns to his senses in the end, but only after Jenny's death; a bittersweet ending. This theme provided an innocent look at rebellion, one that younger readers could relate to and perhaps learn from. Love Story was an undisclosed lesson in true love; pure, sweet, and only a little naughty. Sex was only faintly touched upon in Love Story, appeasing the older readers who had perhaps tired of the explicitness of the sixties and early seventies. Welcome restraint was applied, and Segal scored points for the innocence of his tale. The assumed imagination of the reader was put to work, especially in Jenny and Oliver's first encounter with sex.
"Jenny, for Christ's sake, how can I read John Stuart Mill when every single second I'm dying to make love to you?" She screwed up her brow and frowned. "Oh, Oliver, woudja please?" I was crouching by her chair. She looked back into her book. "Jenny-" She closed her book softly, put it down, then placed her hands on the sides of my neck. "Oliver - woudja please." It all happened at once. Everything. (Love Story, p. 30)
Readers of Love Story were grateful for Segal's clean-cut writing style. As S. K. Overbeck wrote in a March 9, 1970 Newsweek book review, Love Story was "hotly promoted as an antidote to the so-called dirty books strangling America." Segal's appreciation for their imaginations was a token of thanks to the intelligent, older reader, who had long since tired of the bold and sexy previous decades. The plot involving Oliver and his affluent father, Mr. Oliver Barrett III, also appealed to the older Love Story reader. The relationship between the two men slowly crumbles throughout the novel, although all is restored by the end. The destruction begins when the young Oliver brings his bride-to-be home to his family. They do not react well to Jenny's background, and the tension rises between father and son. Mr. Barrett III later tells Oliver that he will be disinherited if he and Jenny marry. Oliver chooses to follow his heart and Jenny must work to provide the funds for his law school. Ironically, Oliver must ask his father for money to pay for Jenny's hospital treatments, but Mr. Barrett III does not find out about her illness until it is too late. The bittersweet reunion between Oliver and his father on the last page of the novel brings home Jenny's lasting effects on the world she inhabited for such a brief time. Older readers approved of the father and son conflict that approached full circle resolution, and also appreciated Jenny as the sweet heroine that brought the two together and made Oliver what he was, both monetarily and psychologically. One of Segal's main points in writing Love Story was to promote the strength and the importance of the parent-child relationship. Critics who disliked Love Story had very strong reactions to Segal's style and plot, but many of these same critics also admitted that the book did have a moving finish. It was this ambiguity that also allowed Love Story to become incredibly popular. It was the book many people hated to love, but they did it anyway. Reviewers recognized the terse prose, the slow pace, and the clean-cut plot, but still they could not help but react to the touching ending, drawn in by the charm of the witty, outspoken Jenny, and Oliver, the unfortunate, young widow. On January 31, 1970, Washington Post reviewer William McPherson sums up and justifies his conflicted feelings about the novel:
Oh sure, it's easy to find flaws in the novel. The characters tend to be stereotypes, the dialogue is excessively cute, certainly there's nothing profound here. The novel is slick but not too slick, and it's not pretentious, either. It does not try to be more than the title implies, and picking away at what's wrong with it would be a pointless exercise. It can be read in little more than an hour and put aside, leaving a pleasant aftertaste and no uncomfortable thoughts.
The reviewers that detested Love Story were few and far between, but those that did provided severe accounts of the impressive hatred they felt towards the novel. Most of the loathing was expressed towards the clichéd, predictable plot, and the sickening, bantering but loving exchanges between Jenny and Oliver. In the March 9, 1970 Newsweek review of Love Story, S.K. Overbeck sarcastically expressed his distaste for Segal's characters: "Rich Harvard boy ?Ollie' meets poor Radcliffe girl ?Jen.' They smart-mouth their way into love, and continue to regale each other with phony, hard-boiled repartee." However, most reviewers did not find Love Story quite as torturous as Overbeck, and were able to expose at least a few redeeming qualities. The success of the Paramount Pictures version of Love Story added a giant boost to book sales. Segal actually wrote the story as a screenplay first, and then turned the work into a novel at the urging of his agent. In fact, the success of the book can be likened to the fact that it was meant to be a movie; attention getting, dramatic, lively, simple, short, tragic; qualities that denote the perfect movie. The novel, like the movie, did not need to be read closely to capture the full affect. Ali MacGraw, a friend of Segal's, starred as Jenny in the film, and Ryan O'Neal completed the pair, playing Oliver with just the right amount of attitude and soul. The movie was released in December, not quite a year after the book publication. People either watched the movie because they had read the book, or read the book because they had watched the movie, thus increasing profits for the benefactors of Love Story. The film was nominated for seven Academy Awards and took one home for Francis Lai's musical score. The more people were exposed to the tale, the more tears were shed, and Love Story nostalgia swept the nation once again. The public's reaction to author Erich Segal certainly did not aid sales of Love Story. At the time of publication, Segal was a professor of classics and comparative literature at Yale. After his rise to fame, Segal became known for his cocky statements, both in the classroom and out. "I cried when I wrote it" was a famous line Segal supposedly used in reference to Love Story. Another phrase he adored to use in the classroom setting, "The great thing about "Love Story" is..." Those that knew Segal well swore it was not arrogance, but instead it was the excitement of his new wealth talking, and his sudden jump to celebrity status. Yale did not take well to Segal's new lifestyle, denying him tenure soon after the publication. Segal was extremely hurt and confused by the public's reaction to his comments and his lifestyle. He became more reserved and was increasingly careful about his comments in subsequent interviews. In the summer of 1971, Segal decided to take some time off and escape the public's attention. In an August 1, 1971 Vogue interview given before his departure, Segal stated his dissatisfaction with his students and the press, and talked of his upcoming leave of absence. Interviewer: Do you know how long you will be gone? Segal: As far as the public is concerned, maybe forever. As far as the classroom is concerned, ?til I feel my soul is restored enough to go back to teaching. Since his 1970 success, Segal has continued to write best selling novels. He married a British woman named Karen, had several children, and moved his family to London in the early eighties. They fluctuate between their house in London and their house in Connecticut. He has not remained an incredibly public figure, teaching at Yale every fall and remaining fairly recluse otherwise. Segal has learned how to avoid the cruelty of his peers and his students by fleeing the classroom after the publication of a new novel. Love Story remained in the number one slot on the best seller list for about a year after publication. After Segal's disappearance from the public eye in 1971, the novel lost its previous popularity, but only by a small margin. At least five editions of the book have been printed and a cassette version was also created. Love Story is still popular all over the world, and can be enjoyed even by readers almost three generations removed from its publication date. It is a glance at an old conflict, a feud between families, and much of its appeal lies in its dodging of more pressing world issues. Its lasting universality is a reminder of the appeal of a true, simple love story about two beautiful, young people. Jenny, the underdog, dies and leaves the once wealthy and materialistic Oliver alone to deal with his grief. But with him he carries the lessons provided by his young wife, lessons of love and life. Even today, readers can identify with the trials of young, forbidden love best documented by Segal's pure and sweet Love Story.

Supplemental Material

Erich Segal's dedication page from Love Story: For Sylvia Herscher and John Flaxman...namque...solebatis Meas esse aliquid putare nugas.

A photograph of the author, Erich Segal, taken by Hella Hammid. This photograph is on the back of the first edition of <i>Love Story</i>.

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