The Music School · Marry Me · Couples
In the spring of 1963, concurrent with publication of The Centaur, Updike wrote a story titled "Couples" and submitted it, as was his wont, to the New Yorker, which rather uncharacteristically rejected it. Then, in the two-year interim between The Centaur and Of the Farm, in addition to publishing his usual spate of stories, poems, and reviews, he wrote a draft of a novel that was eventually published as Marry Me in 1976. In his note to a limited edition of "Couples:"A Short Story, also published in 1976, he refers to the "bedeviled manuscript" of Marry Me, into which details from Couples found their way, and he notes also that the story and the novel were "among my first attempts to write about suburban adultery." 1 The two works emanated from a troubled period in Updike's life when, in the wake of a passionate love affair, he strongly contemplated the possibility of divorce and then retreated from it. In his memoirs, Self- Consciousness, he speaks of the "grayness" of a period in 1962, when he was trying to "piece together those last fragmentary stories in Pigeon Feathers, and when "I tried to break out of my marriage on behalf of another, and failed, and began to have trouble breathing." With respect to this period in Updike's life, Yeats's painful question near the end of the second part of "The Tower" comes to mind:
Does the imagination dwell the most Upon a woman won or woman lost?