February 2011

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Member Andrew Moorhouse writes that for his 50th birthday he decided to treat himself and commissioned an artist friend to do a painting of John Updike.

Scholars and avid readers will recognize the image from a Frank Capri photo that adorned the cover of James O. Yerkes’ critical anthology on John Updike and Religion: The Sense of the Sacred and the Motions of Grace (1999). But, of course, the artist took the image into the realm of expressionism.

It’s the third such painting we know of, and seems somehow fitting and full-circle, given how Updike was inspired by art.

George W. Hunt, well known among Updike scholars for his seminal early monograph, John Updike and the Three Great Secret Things: Sex, Religion, and Art, died Friday, Feb. 25, 2011, of cancer. An obituary in America: The National Catholic Weekly reports that Hunt, 74, was editor of America from 1984-98 and a literary scholar who published on John Cheever as well.

But to Updike scholars and aficionados he was one of the most astute critics among us. His 1980 book used, as a point of departure, Updike’s famous essay on “The Dogwood Tree: A Boyhood” (Assorted Prose, 1965) and examined how sex, religion, and art permeate and inform Updike’s work.