Dossier of the Muses, an International Journal of Literary Studies, announced that Vol. 2:1 (July 2023) will be devoted to John Updike. The journal is based at Govt. College for Women M.A. Road, Srinigar Cluster University, Srinigar, J&K India, and the editor-in-chief, Prof. (Dr.) Ruhi Jan Kanth, is still accepting submissions until March 15, 2023, with revisions of accepted papers due April 30. Before submitting to firstname.lastname@example.org, read the updated submission guidelines at ijlsdom.com
Raghupati Bhatt’s critical essay, “John Updike’s Indian Connection,” was published in the International Journal of Scientific and Research Publications Vol. 4: 7 (July 2014). It is now completely downloadable online.
“The reader finds that Updike’s women characters have reached a new height in S.,” Bhatt writes. “She is searching her own identity. She is trying to develop her personality. She is groping her way out. She seems determined. She is not uncertain or totally submissive. She is not only an object of pleasure but she is out to enjoy the pleasure. She has given up the petty fears of morality, the social status and the family attachments. S. is representative of this woman against the background of religious commune and oriental philosophy. Updike has taken full notice of the women’s movements and the feminist critics.”
Arizona Quarterly: A Journal of American Literature, Culture, and Theory, based at the University of Arizona and published online by Johns Hopkins University Press, included an important essay on Updike in the Volume 77: 4 (Winter 2021) issue: “John Updike: ‘Museums and Women,’ Women as Museums,” by Robert Milder, a member of The John Updike Society. The storied journal, which has been published since 1945, is edited by Lynda Zwinger and is based in Tucson, Arizona, where the society will meet for its 7th Biennial Conference in October, 2023.
Here’s the link.
Written in 1962 and published in five years later, “Museums and Women” is a series of vignettes featuring each of the most important women in his Updike’s life through that time: his strong-willed, mercurial mother; the schoolgirl its hero decides he loves; the Radcliffe student (a version of Updike’s Mary Pennington) he would marry; and the lover for whom he, like Updike, would nearly leave his wife. Beyond its status as an autonomous work of fiction, “Museums and Women” is a matrix for Updike’s semi-autobiographical treatments of love, sex, marriage, and infidelity. Focusing on “Museum and Women,” the essay moves outward to consider Updike’s life and work in thematically related writings across his career: stories of the 1960s and beyond, Marry Me: A Romance, Of the Farm, Couples, Self-Consciousness: Memoirs, and Villages, a late novel comprising a reassessment of his life as it was shaped by his relationships to women.
Milder, who holds a Ph.D. from Harvard University, is Professor of English at Washington University in St. Louis. His research interests are 19th and 20th century American authors.
A second collaborative collection of essays by Laurence W. Mazzeno and Sue Norton was recently published by Palgrave Macmillan in Switzerland. Contemporary American Fiction in the European Classroom: Teaching and Texts contains an essay on “John Updike in Serbia” by Biljana Dojčinović and Nemanja Glintić. Other writers covered in the book include Octavia Butler, Thomas Pynchon, David Foster Wallace, Donald Barthelme, Gloria Anzaldúa, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Philip Roth, Colson Whitehead, Danzy Senna, Marilynne Robinson, Jesmyn Ward, William T. Vollmann, Toni Morrison, and Charles Yu. Also included is an additional resource provided by Norton: “Incorporating One’s Own Literary Criticism into the Curriculum: The Teachable Essay via John Updike’s Short Stories.” The book is also available as a Kindle edition.
From the publisher:
This book offers insight into the ways students enrolled in European classrooms in higher education come to understand American experience through its literary fiction, which for decades has been a key component of English department offerings and American Studies curricula across the continent and in Great Britain and Ireland. The essays provide an understanding of how post-World War II American writers, some already elevated to ‘canonical status’ and some not, are represented in European university classrooms and why they have been chosen for inclusion in coursework. The book will be of interest to scholars and teachers of American literature and American studies, and to students in American literature and American studies courses.
Laurence W. Mazzeno is President Emeritus of Alvernia University in Reading, Pa. He is the author or editor of 20 scholarly books, including Teaching Victorian Literature in the Twenty-First Century (2017) and Victorian Environmental Nightmares (2019). Sue Norton is Lecturer of English at Technological University Dublin, Ireland. She has published numerous articles and essays on topics in American literature as well as on classroom practice. Together they edited European Perspectives on John Updike (Camden House, 2018).
Photo: Joyce Dopkeen/The New York Times
Here’s a fascinating bit of trivia: John Updike—reviewed and interviewed at least as much and probably more than any other writer—first appeared in The New York Times not in connection with his writing, but rather his parenting.
Way back on March 2, 1958, Dorothy Barclay compiled an article on “The Magic World of Words” that appeared in The Times.
The public was reminded of this by a recent article, “John Updike on Parenting, Agatha Christie in the Gossip Pages: First Mentions of Famous Authors in The Times.”
“Not long before his first novel, The Poorhouse Fair, was published, Updike—already an acclaimed short-story writer—was featured in a parenting article, ‘The Magic World of Words,’ which discussed the best ways to spark a child’s love for language. Updike, the father of toddlers, told the paper in 1958, ‘When children are picking up words with rapidity, between 2 and 3, say, tell them the true word for something even if it is fairly abstruse and long. A long correct word is exciting for a child. Makes them laugh; my daughter never says “rhinoceros” without laughing.’”
Blogger Mia Savant posted a Ponder Savant entry on “Jackson Pollock and Other Poems by Abigail George” that includes the Pollock poem and also poems dedicated to John Updike and Georgia O’Keeffe. Here’s the Updike poem:
He writes. He writes. He writes. He writes. And it feels
as if he is writing to me. There’s the letting go of sadness,
the letting go of emptiness, of the swamp ape in the land.
Lines written after communion, and as I write this, I am
aware of growing older, men growing colder. And this
afternoon, the dust of it, the milky warmth of it loose like
flowers upon me fastening their hold on me, removes the
oppression that I know from all of life. Youth is no longer
on my side. The bloom of youth. Wasteland has become a
part of my identity. I am a bird. A rejected starling. To age
sometimes feels as if you are moving epic mountains. Valleys
that sing with the force of winds, human beings, the sun.
And he is beautiful. And he is kind. And he is the man facing
loneliness, and the emptiness of the day. And I am the woman
facing loneliness, and the emptiness of the day. But how
can you be lonely if you are surrounded by so many people.
I want to be those people, if only to be in your presence a
little while longer. Death is gorgeous, but life is even more so.
I have become weary of fighting wars. Of the threshold of
waiting. And so, I let go of solitude at the beach. I see my mother’s
face in every horizon. She is my sun. And the man makes
a path where there is no path before. The minority of the day
longs for power. The light reckons it has more sway over
the clouds. And there’s ecstasy in the shark, in his heart with
a head full of winter. Freedom is his mother tongue lost in
translation of the being of the trinity. Tender is the night.
The clock strains itself. Its forward motion. Its song. Its lull
during the figuring of the daylight. He’s my knight but he
doesn’t know it. He makes me forget about my grief, loss, my loss,
the measure of my grief. Driftwood comes to the beach and
lays there like a beached whale. Not stirring, but like some
autumn life, something about life is resurrected again, and the
powerful hands of the sea become my own. Between the grass
and the men, there is an innocent logic. I don’t talk to anyone,
and no one talks to me. It is Tuesday. Late. I think you can
see the despair in my eyes. The kiss of hardship in my hands.
It always comes back to that, doesn’t it somehow. The hands
The hands. The hands. Symbolic of something, or other it seems.
Wednesday morning. It is early. After twelve in the morning,
and I can’t sleep. For the life of me I can’t sleep. Between the
two of us, he’s the teacher. There is a singing sound in his voice.
I don’t know why I can’t read his mind anymore. There’s
confusion in forgetting that becomes a secret. Almost a contract
between two people. And when I think of him, I think of love
and Brazil, love and couples. And there’s a silent call from a
remote kind of land, and ignorance is a cold shroud. Some
things are born helpless in a world of assembled images, and
how quickly some people go mad with grief (like me), dream
of grief (like me), sleep with grief on their heart (like me). Speak
to me before all speech is gone. This image, or perhaps another.
His face is made up of invisible threads. Each more handsome
than the last. And my face becomes, turns into the face of love.
Abigail George is a Pushcart Prize-winning poet, essayist, writer, and novelist . She received four grants from the National Arts Council in Johannesburg, the Centre for the Book in Cape Town and ECPACC in East London. She is the author of 15 books, including two poetry chapbooks forthcoming in 2020: Of Bloom and Smoke (Mwanaka Media and Publishing) and The Anatomy of Melancholy (Praxis Magazine).
The Moderate Imagination: The Political Thought of John Updike and the Decline of New Deal Liberalism, a monograph by John Updike Society member Yoav Fromer, is now available for pre-orders at Amazon.com.
Scheduled for June 12, 2020 publication by the University Press of Kansas, the new critical work on Updike is 288 pages, hardcover, and priced at $39.95. Here’s the description:
“In the aftermath of Donald Trump’s victory in 2016, Americans finally faced a perplexing political reality: Democrats, purported champions of working people since the New Deal, had lost the white, working-class voters of Middle America. For answers about how this could be, Yoav Fromer turns to an unlikely source: the fiction of John Updike. Though commonly viewed as an East Coast chronicler of suburban angst, the gifted writer (in fact a native of the quintessential rust-belt state, Pennsylvania) was also an ardent man of ideas, political ideas—whose fiction, Fromer tells us, should be read not merely as a reflection of the postwar era, but rather as a critical investigation into the liberal culture that helped define it.
“Several generations of Americans since the 1960s have increasingly felt ‘left behind.’ In Updike’s early work, Fromer finds a fictional map of the failures of liberalism that might explain these grievances. The Moderate Imagination also taps previously unknown archival materials and unread works from his college years at Harvard to offer a clearer view of the author’s acute political thought and ideas. Updike’s prescient literary imagination, Fromer shows, sensed the disappointments and alienation of rural white working- and middle-class Americans decades before conservatives sought to exploit them. In his writing, he traced liberalism’s historic decline to its own philosophical contradictions rather than to only commonly cited external circumstances like the Vietnam War, racial strife, economic recession, and conservative backlash.
“A subtle reinterpretation of John Updike’s legacy, Fromer’s work complicates and enriches our understanding of one of the twentieth century’s great American writers—even as the book deftly demonstrates what literature can teach us about politics and history.”
In under three weeks Updike fans can finally read the much-anticipated Updike & Politics: New Considerations, edited by Matthew Shipe and Scott Dill.
The collection of essays, to be published on July 15 by Lexington Books, features essays from Marshall Boswell, Kirk Curnutt, Dill, Biljana Dojcinovic, Michial Farmer, Ethan Fishman, Yoav Fromer, Jo Gill, Louis Gordon, Sylvie Mathé, Takashi Nakatani, Judie Newman, James Schiff, Pradipta Sengupta, Shipe, and Aleksandra Vukotic.
As the back cover copy proclaims, “Presenting the first interdisciplinary consideration of John Updike’s political thought, Updike & Politics establishes a new scholarly foundation for assessing one of the most recognized and significant American writers of the post-1945 period. Bringing together a diverse group of American and international scholars, including contributors from Japan, India, France, Serbia, Israel, and the United Kingdom, this volume presents the most comprehensive exploration of the rich political commentary that runs through Updike’s work. Like Updike himself, the collection endeavors to be comprehensive as it covers a wide range of the work he produced during his fifty-year career, including his too-often overlooked poetry and his single play [Buchanan Dying]. The chapters address a variety of political issues, from the traditional aspects of power, rights, equality, justice, or violence, to the more divisive issues in Updike’s work such as race, gender, imperialism, hegemony, and the rise of neoliberalism.”
“This collection of essays adds depth to our understanding of Updike as a political writer,” writes Liliana M. Naydan (Penn State Abington) in her cover blurb. “The book is especially valuable to scholars of late-twentieth and early twenty-first century literature for its investigations of intersections between the personal and the political. It exposes Updike’s nuanced perspectives on institutions such as the American presidency, and it provides thought-provoking explorations of politically charged and transformative American experiences including the War in Vietnam, the Cold War, and the attacks of September 11, 2001.”
Radojka Vukčević, the editor of the peer-reviewed Belgrade English Language & Literature Studies, attended the 5th John Updike Society Conference in Serbia and was impressed with the quality of papers presented, just as members were impressed by Belgrade BELLS. Three of those conference papers were recently published in Volume 11 (2019):
—”Recreation of the Second Degree: Updike’s Shakespeare in Translation,” by Alexander Shurbanov
—”John Updike’s The Centaur and the Artist Divided,” by James Plath
—”Psychic Sexuality: Memory and Dream in John Updike’s Villages,” by Pradipta Sengupta
Member Carla Ferreira, who is an associate professor in the Literature and Language Department at Federal University of Sao Carlos, Brazil, reports that her dissertation has been published in book form.
The title is North and South Readings: Perception of Oneself and the Other in Updike’s Fiction. “The book is written in Portuguese,” Ferreira says, “and it is about The Coup and Brazil.”
“The next book I am writing in English so JUS members can read it,” Ferreira writes. She is finishing up her postdoctoral research on Updike’s New Yorker essays at the University of South Carolina, under the direction of Donald J. Greiner.