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25 - John Updike

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  05 December 2012

Timothy Parrish
Affiliation:
Florida State University
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Summary

John Updike (1932–2009) has stood as a major figure in the American literary landscape since the 1950s – of his contemporaries, only Philip Roth has been there as long. Updike emerged in his early twenties as the Wunderkind from Shillington, Pennsylvania, a gifted stylist with a lyric love of the surface world. As one reviewer wrote in 1960, “Updike frequently gives the impression that he has six or seven senses, all of them operating at full strength.” The early writing, which covered a Pennsylvania boyhood and early married life, was marked by keen visual detail, a mastery of image and metaphor, and revelation of how significance resides within the ordinary. The words also poured out rapidly. Short stories, poems, and articles by Updike were appearing in the New Yorker every few weeks.

By age forty Updike had published sixteen books, including Rabbit, Run (1960), The Centaur (1963), and Couples (1968), and he was already the subject of multiple volumes of literary criticism, something unheard of for such a young writer. A resident of Massachusetts since 1957, he had become a New Englander, as was increasingly reflected in settings and characters found in his work. His subject matter, most often aligned with family life, marriage, and domesticity, had turned more explicitly to sexuality and adultery, as well as the ways in which American culture and politics shape one’s domestic existence.

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Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2012

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References

Baker, Nicholson, U and I: A True Story, New York, Random House, 1991.Google Scholar
De Bellis, Jack (ed.), John Updike: The Critical Responses to the “Rabbit” Saga,”Westport, Conn., Praeger, 2005.
Greiner, Donald J., John Updike’s Novels, Athens, Ohio University Press, 1984.Google Scholar
Newman, Judie, John Updike, New York, St. Martin’s Press, 1988.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Olster, Stacey (ed.), The Cambridge Companion to John Updike, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 2006.CrossRef
Pritchard, William H., Updike: America’s Man of Letters, South Royalton, Vt., Steerforth Press, 2000.Google Scholar
Schiff, James A., John Updike Revisited, New York, Twayne, 1998.Google Scholar
Yerkes, James (ed.), John Updike and Religion: The Sense of the Sacred and the Motions of Grace, Grand Rapids, Mich., William B. Eerdmans, 1999.
Pritchard, William H., “Long Novels and Short Stories,” review of Museums and Women, by John Updike, Hudson Review 26.1 (Spring 1973): 240Google Scholar
Wallace, David Foster, “Certainly the End of Something or Other, One Would Sort of Have to Think,” Consider the Lobster and Other Essays (New York, Back Bay, 2006)Google Scholar
Bloom, Harold, “Introduction,” John Updike (New York, Chelsea House, 1987)Google Scholar
Mathé, Sylvie, “Under Gallic Eyes: The Case of John Updike’s Ambivalent Reception in France,” John Updike Review 1.1 (Fall 2011): 26Google Scholar
Cavett, Dick, “A Conversation with John Updike (1992),” Conversations with John Updike, ed. James Plath (Jackson, University Press of Mississippi, 1994)Google Scholar
Updike, John, Self-Consciousness (New York, Knopf, 1989)Google Scholar
Howard, Jane, “Can a Nice Novelist Finish First? (1966),” Conversations with John Updike, ed. James Plath (Jackson, University Press of Mississippi, 1994)Google Scholar
Updike, John, “Foreword,” The Early Stories 1953–1975 (New York, Knopf, 2003)Google Scholar
Updike, John, “A ‘Special Message’ to Purchasers of the Franklin Library Limited Edition, in 1981, of Rabbit Redux,” Hugging the Shore (New York, Knopf, 1983)Google Scholar
Updike, John, “Introduction,” Rabbit Angstrom (New York, Knopf/Everyman’s Library, 1995)Google Scholar
Updike, John, “One Big Interview,” Picked-Up Pieces (New York, Knopf, 1975)Google Scholar
Wood, Ralph C., “Rabbit Runs Down,” review of Rabbit at Rest, by John Updike, Christian Century 107 (November 21–28, 1990): p. 1099Google Scholar
Updike, John, Rabbit Is Rich (New York, Knopf, 1981), p. 462–63Google Scholar
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  • John Updike
  • Edited by Timothy Parrish, Florida State University
  • Book: The Cambridge Companion to American Novelists
  • Online publication: 05 December 2012
  • Chapter DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/CCO9781139003780.026
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  • John Updike
  • Edited by Timothy Parrish, Florida State University
  • Book: The Cambridge Companion to American Novelists
  • Online publication: 05 December 2012
  • Chapter DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/CCO9781139003780.026
Available formats
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Save book to Google Drive

To save content items to your account, please confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your account. Find out more about saving content to Google Drive.

  • John Updike
  • Edited by Timothy Parrish, Florida State University
  • Book: The Cambridge Companion to American Novelists
  • Online publication: 05 December 2012
  • Chapter DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/CCO9781139003780.026
Available formats
×