[Marxism] L'Humanite eulogizes Updike

J Rothermel jayroth6 at cox.net
Wed Mar 4 23:08:48 MST 2009


ORIGINAL FRENCH ARTICLE : John Updike Le lièvre ne court plus 
<http://www.humanite.fr/2009-01-29_Cultures_John-Updike-Le-lievre-ne-court-plus> 


By A. N.


  John Updike : The rabbit stops running

Translated mardi 10 février 2009, par Philip Taylor <spip.php?auteur233>

Obituary.

John Updike, author of the Rabbit novels and Couples, is dead.

The sarcastic bard of the hopes and disappointments of the American 
middle-class has died from lung cancer at the age of seventy-six. The 
double Pulitzer prize winner, also known for his gentle and vicious 
contributions to The New Yorker, was born on 18 March 1932, on a farm in 
the small Pennsylvanian borough of Shillington. It was there that he 
grew up, an only child whose mother was obsessed with writing. He 
attended Harvard on a scholarship, as well as studying graphic arts at 
the Ruskin School in Oxford. Already, at the young age of twenty-seven, 
he published the enormously successful *Rabbit, Run.* This was the first 
in a series of five novels devoted to average American Harry “Rabbit” 
Angstrom, afflicted with the Madame Bovary syndrome and who seeks to 
escape the mediocrity of his existence. Angstrom was to grow resigned to 
his lot, then become rich, finally coming to peace with himself as the 
end drew near. Two of the books in this series, *Rabbit is Rich* and 
*Rabbit at Rest*, won Updike a pair of Pulitzer Prizes, in 1971 and 1990.

It was in 1968 that Updike reiterated the same themes, with *Couples*, a 
ferocious novel on the illusion of being sexually emancipated in 
small-town America. “In a man’s lifetime, the three most secret things 
are Sex, Art and Religion”, he once said. While not exactly a puritan, 
Updike, the grandson of a Presbyterian minister, had deep Christian 
faith. Yet his approach was far from a conservative one. As he stated in 
2005, “Rabbit and I have both been pleasantly surprised, in the course 
of the last fifty years, by the decline of puritanism in the fields of 
morality, law, and female fashion”. It was, in fact, due to his 
anti-conformism and his nostalgia for the traditional values of New 
England that John Updike set about exposing the illusions of the 
individualist quest for happiness.

For the sake of of those same American values, he published *Terrorist* 
in 2006, a novel which explores the motivations of Ahmad Ashmawy Mulloy, 
an eighteen-year-old American Muslim manipulated by fundamentalists. 
/Critiques/ of the book were particularly harsh in the aftermath of 911. 
Earlier, he had revisited the literature of the fantastic, 
American-style, with the publication of *The Witches of Eastwick* in 
1984, whose success as a film largely dissipated feminist suspicions of 
misogyny. A less convincing sequel, *The Widows of Eastwick*, appeared 
last year.

Having published twenty-five novels, a dozen collections of short 
stories and several volumes of poetry, Updike occupies a leading place 
in American letters.

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