The John Updike Encyclopedia

The John Updike Encyclopedia

The John Updike Encyclopedia

The John Updike Encyclopedia

Synopsis

John Updike is one of the most seminal American writers of the 20th century and one of the most prolific as well. His writing consistently reveals stylistic brilliance, and through his engagement with America's moral and spiritual problems, his works chronicle America's hopes and dreams, failures and disappointments. Though an enormously popular writer, the complexity and elegance of his works have elicited much scholarly attention. Through several hundred alphabetically arranged entries, this book provides an exceptional resource for both casual and serious readers. Whether seeking a novel summary, an authoritative analysis of subjects, elucidation of an allusion, or a point about Updike's life and manner of composition, the encyclopedia is indispensable. Extensive cross-referencing, numerous bibliographies, and a thorough index enhance its usefulness.

Excerpt

Nearly two decades ago critic George Hunt wondered at the temerity of a critic who would offer in regard to John Updike "an exacting critical study of such a prolific author who is still relatively young." the same consternation strikes this writer. the surprising turns Updike's career has taken would doom any critic who thinks that he or she can offer a "summing up" of Updike, for Updike is, like Rabbit, rich, but unlike Rabbit, he is hardly at rest, but rather still running. Although he has published about fifty books and, as he has said, has been tidying up his desk, his career is far from over, so this encyclopedia may certainly seem premature. in fact, this volume has been revised repeatedly during its five-year progress because Updike's extraordinary oeuvre has continued to expand in all directions, and because the more familiar a reader becomes with his work, the more his books speak to one another and to other books. This requires constant revision of ideas.

The aims of this encyclopedia are similar to those of W. H. Auden in The Dyer's Hand, quoted by Hunt: to offer a comprehensive survey that reveals a vast oeuvre; to provide readings that indicate that complexity; to demonstrate Updike's artistic "making"; and to suggest connections of Updike's writing to many subjects, such as art, science, religion and history. Though this encyclopedia necessarily anatomizes Updike's oeuvre, I hope that the reader acquires a coherent sense of his remarkable accomplishments through the many cross-references offered, as well as the effort to suggest, in many entries, shared themes, ideas and matters of craft among Updike's books. His apostate minister Clarence Wilmot (In the Beauty of the Lilies) knew that the encyclopedist plays God by attempting to provide a "replica of Creation," but I hope that the reader will pardon this blasphemy. I am no apostate; I am a true believer in Updike.

John Updike's critics from the beginning have sought to rise to the level of Updike's quality. in dozens of books and hundreds of articles and reviews . . .

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