John Updike Wrote About The Average American In His Novels!

John Updike is the author whose book inspired one of the wackiest movies I’ve ever seen,”The Witches Of Eastwick“! He was an American literary great whose passing has touched many. He wrote about the people of the small towns across America. Being that he is a man of so many achievements, I will use this excerpt from Wikipedia to describe some of them:

John Hoyer Updike (March 18, 1932 – January 27, 2009) was an American novelist, poet, short story writer, art critic, and literary critic. Updike’s most famous work is his Rabbit series (Rabbit, Run; Rabbit Redux; Rabbit Is Rich; Rabbit At Rest; and Rabbit Remembered). Both Rabbit is Rich and Rabbit at Rest received the Pulitzer Prize. Describing his subject as “the American small town, Protestant middle class,” Updike was widely recognized for his careful craftsmanship, his highly stylistic writing, and his prolific output, having published more than twenty-five novels and more than a dozen short story collections, as well as poetry, art criticism, literary criticism and children’s books. Hundreds of his stories, reviews, and poems appeared in The New Yorker, starting in 1954. He also wrote regularly for The New York Review of Books. His work attracted a significant amount of critical attention and he was considered one of the most prominent contemporary American novelists.Updike died of lung cancer on January 27, 2009.”(End of Excerpt) Read the rest here:(

Here’s an excerpt from an article that talks about how his writings represented “middle America” from the Telegraph:

“Updike became famous – and infamous – with his fourth novel, Couples, a sexually-explicit tale of New England suburbia in which jaded thirtysomethings stave off marital boredom by drinking, “frugging”, coupling and uncoupling in an account which captured the mood of souring Sixties optimism. Published in 1968, it was to the ageing trendies of the era what Salinger’s Catcher in the Rye was to its teenagers.

But the world which Updike really made his own was that of the muddled, junk-food-guzzling patriotic small town American male and his failure in marriage and in life. In his two series of novels – the “Bech” and the “Rabbit” books – he created two engagingly flawed heroes, versions of himself which somehow seemed to symbolise the American everyman: Bech, a hairy, self-scrutinising American-Jewish writer, and Harry “Rabbit” Angstrom, a former basketball champion turned second-hand car dealer trapped in a tedious marriage from which he seeks refuge in extra-marital affairs.

Updike’s critics took him to task for what they perceived as his cold-heartedness: “His work seems motivated by covetousness, exhibitionism and a stony heart” wrote John Cheever in a letter published posthumously. Misogyny was a recurrent charge: “There is only one reason for women to exist in Updike’s world,” protested one feminist writer – “to be f—ed, or at least f—able. His inability to create depth in a female character means his women must collude even in abuse.”

There was much in Updike’s writing to justify the charge: “She is liking it, being raped,” he wrote in a voyeuristic passage in Rabbit Redux. “As a raped woman might struggle, to intensify the deed,” runs a passage in Couples. But such criticisms ignored the fact that Updike was reflecting the point of view of male characters of a particular age and class, and in that context they demonstrated psychological insight.

In a short story, Natural Color for example, Updike devastatingly suggests the paradoxical quality of infidelity. The central character’s “own (marriage) was enhanced by his betrayal, his wife and children rendered precious in their vulnerability. Returning to them, damp and panting from his sins, he nearly wept at their sweet ignorance.” In the story, the husband chooses to stay with his wife despite being madly in love with the other woman.

It was the tension between opposed poles in Updike’s best work that gave it its power. The attitudes of a patriot and a hawk in the Rabbit books are undermined by a recognition of the consequences of American consumer excess – when Rabbit leads a Fourth of July parade dressed up like Uncle Sam, his paunch “in itself must weigh as much as an Ethiopian child”. The guilt-ridden anxieties of small town Protestantism (Updike was a churchgoer all his life – first Lutheran, then Congregationalist and finally Episcopalian) make the explicit and highly visual eroticism of his depictions of sex all the more potent. “(End of Excerpt) Go here for the article in it’s entirety:(

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Filed under People Who Do Us Proud, America

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