Updike's Farewell

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  • Source:
    Hudson Review; Autumn2009, Vol. 62 Issue 3, p521-527, 7p
  • Document Type:
    Book Review
    Contains biographical material
  • Additional Information
    • Alternate Title:
      Review article
    • Review Authors:
      Allen, Brooke
    • Subjects:
      Updike, John 1932-2009; Authors; Attitude (Psychology)
    • Abstract:
      John Updike did not have a “late style” in the sense described by Kenneth Clark in his essay “The Artist Grows Old.” He seems to have been unusually happy for a major writer, and one searches in vain through his autobiographical writings for signs of the artist's traditional alienation. He confronted old age with relative equanimity, noticeably refraining from airing the usual masculine anguish over fading potency. He kept pace right till the end, leaving us two posthumous volumes: one of short stories, My Father's Tears, and another of poems, Endpoint. There is little of Clark's “saeva indignatio” or pessimism here. There is no sign of sour-grapes, all-is-vanity rage, and the infinitely beautiful physical world Updike celebrated throughout his career is not cheapened by its receding from his grasp. These collections are imbued with the awareness that he is leaving the world, but this knowledge seemed to inspire not rage but a sort of rapturous appreciation for the many joys that were still on offer.
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