Friday Review: John Updike’s Due Considerations

by admin | Oct-26-2007

AMERICAN ARTS AND LETTERS have been blessed with few great generalist critics over the years, and fewer still have written novels. The most obvious example -- Edmund Wilson -- wasn't much of a novelist; the other fellow who comes to mind -- Henry James -- wasn't much of an American.

In this regard, John Updike stands as America’s great man of letters of the past century. “Evidently I can read anything in English and muster up an opinion about it,” wrote the author of Rabbit, Run in 1975, explaining why his second collection of criticism contained so many essays on fiction from abroad.

Three decades later Mr. Updike is reinforcing this fact with the energy of a much younger critic. Several times a year he files exquisitely textured reviews of art for The New York Review of Books, while The New Yorker carries a dispatch of his every few weeks. Introductions, riffs, op-eds, feuilletons and posthumous tributes pile up, too. Entering his middle ’70s, he remains the Iron John of criticism.

But stamina alone is for drudges. What makes Mr. Updike’s essays worth reading and owning in hardback is the intimate, frighteningly articulate voice that holds them aloft. Due Considerations, his sixth collection of assorted criticism, showcases 701 pages of him describing the novels of Ian McEwan, the gimcrack imagination of Frank Baum, the sinking of the Lusitania and the value of a penny. Occasionally, it feels as if Emerson’s all-seeing invisible eye had picked up a pen.

to continue reading go here

 

 




About the Critical Mass Blog

Commentary on literary criticism, publishing, writing, and all things NBCC related. It's written by independent members of the NBCC Board of Directors (see list of bloggers below).

Subscribe

SIGN UP FOR CRITICAL NOTES





Categories & Archives

Become a Friend of the NBCC

Upcoming Events

NBCC at AWP18: March 09th, 2018

NBCC Finalists’ Reading: March 14th, 2018

NBCC Awards Ceremony and Reception: March 15th, 2018


NBCC Awards

Award Winners for 2016

See all award winners

Find out how to submit

Read how we select

Frequently Asked Questions


Videos and Podcasts

NBCC 2016 Awards Ceremony

NBCC 2015 Awards Ceremony

NBCC 2015 Finalists Reading

NBCC 2014 Awards Ceremony

NBCC 2013 Awards Ceremony

NBCC 2013 Finalists Reading

Video: New Literary Journals

Video: The VIDA Count and Gender Bias in Book Reviewing

Podcast: What Is Criticism? NBCC Winners and Finalists at AWP

All videos and podcasts.