Updike scholar donates papers to John Updike Childhood Home

Edward Vargo, who was among the first wave of Updike critics and scholars, has donated his Updike papers to The John Updike Childhood Home. The materials are mostly from his 1973 monograph, Rainstorms and Fire: Ritual in the Novels of John Updike.

Vargo has been living in Thailand, and the donated materials include Updike-related printed matter from that part of the world and accompanying notes, drafts, correspondences, and bibliographies. Later items are also included, such as notes and typescripts from “Whose Africa? Culture Wars in John Updike’s The Coup,” which was presented at the XXI Congress of the International Federation for Modern Languages and Literatures in Harare, Zimbabwe in 1999.

It took the Houghton Library a year to catalog all materials so that they could become available for scholars by appointment, and the board of The John Updike Society, which owns and operates the house-museum at 117 Philadelphia Ave. in Shillington, Pa., predicts that it could take a year or longer before scholars can gain access to the Childhood Home materials. Some of the items that could help researchers include letters, early notes and drafts, cancelled checks, Updike’s travel log, and numerous books that bear his annotations and marginalia.

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