Marry Me: A Romance

"Any romance that does not
end in marriage fails. "

Marry Me

Reverend Tom Marshfield's reconciliation with the mysterious Ms. Prynne in A Month of Sundays underscores Updike's recognition of Nathaniel Hawthorne as the first great American author to examine the often baffling relationships among sex, sin, faith, and art.That he grins at the tradition even as he honors it is part of the fun. Marshfield's mess is not so devastating as Hester's plight.

Neither is Jerry Conant's in Marry Me ( 1976). But because Updike takes the trouble to stress the subtitle A Romance on the title page, he suggests that in this novel he still has an eye on the Hawthorne tradition.Jerry is a distant cousin of the hypocritical Arthur Dimmesdale, but unlike the minister's, his predicament is more comic than grim. Updike enjoys the difference.His comments about Marry Me: A Romance in a two-page "special message" for an edition published by the Franklin Library indicate the difficulty he had writing it:

It has been a long time making. Chapter II, " The Wait," was published in The New Yorker of February 17, 1968, and it was not newly written then.But Marry Me was always a book in my mind, not a collection, or collage, and was written pretty much in a piece, with the five chapters symmetrically alliterative as I have them, and their lengths in the proportion of a diadem.The central chapter, cut down from the length of a novel in itself, is flanked by two longish, less inward, more spoken chapters, and these in turn by brief idylls, partaking of the same texture, between real and unreal. 1

He also argues that the book is about religion and the potential of love. The religions of the four principals—Lutheran, lapsed Catholic, Uni

-184-

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John Updike's Novels
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • John Updike's Novels *
  • Table of Contents vii
  • Acknowledgments viii
  • Preface ix
  • Created Landscapes - The Poorhouse Fair (1959) the Coup (1978) *
  • The Poorhouse Fair *
  • The Coup 28
  • Why Rabbit Should Keep on Running - Rabbit, Run (1960) Rabbit Redux (1971) Rabbit Is Rich (1981) *
  • Rabbit, Run *
  • Rabbit Redux 64
  • Rabbit Is Rich 84
  • Home - The Centaur (1963) of the Farm (1965) 100
  • The Centaur *
  • Of the Farm 121
  • Faltering toward Divorce - Couples (1968) a Month of Sundays (1975) Marry Me: a Romance (1976) 140
  • Couples *
  • A Month of Sundays 163
  • Marry Me: A Romance 184
  • Bech: A Conclusion - Bech: a Book 200
  • Bech: A Book *
  • Selected Checklist of John Updike's Novels 212
  • Index 217
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