Free John Hoyer Updike Essay Sample


John Hoyer Updike was born on March 18th 1932 and died on 27th of January 2009. He was an American novelist, poet, short story writer, literal critic as well as literal critic. The most famous of his literal work is the rabbit series. These novels involved Rabbit Run, Rabbit Redux, Rabbit is Rich, Rabbit at Rest and finally Rabbit Remembered. This series features he life of Harry 'Rabbit' Angstrom from his early adulthood life to his over some several decades. Some of his work has worn prizes including the coveted Pulitzer Prize which both Rabbit is Rich(1981) and Rabbit at Rest (1990) worn. Therefore, through these prizes, he became among the few three writer who have ever won Pulitzer Prize more than in the fiction story category.

He has published more than twenty novels and many other short stories collections. He is also a poem writer, children book writer as well as criticizes arts and literal work. He was constantly writing in the New York Times where his work also appeared severally. In his article, he mostly did books reviews, wrote poems as well as stories.

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Updike was well known for his organization that he had and careful quality, his proficiency in writing as well as uniqueness in his prose style in the literal work. He was a very hard working writer and mostly wrote a novel per year. In most of his writings, he popularly used characters that were mostly  undergo personal problems, experienced challenges in responding towards religion, characters with family obligation problems  that include infidelity. He has made his work an outstanding one through covering sufferings an average American undergoes in their daily life. Through his narration, he put a lot of passion and concerns to emphasize on these issues. In a nutshell, his work covers antagonism that is always there in Christian theology in relation to sexuality. Therefore, his work has seen him to be among the greatest writers of his time.

Early life

Updike was a child of Linda Grace Hoyer and Wesley Russell Updike. In fact, he was the only child of the couples. He was born in Reading Pennsylvania and grew in a small town of Shillington. Later the family moved in Plowville village where her mother attempted to be a published writer. This was the beginning of the Updike aspiration in her time. Updike recalled the way his mother put inspiration in his life as she said, "One of my earliest memories is of seeing her at her desk.... I admired the writer's equipment, the typewriter eraser, and the boxes of clean paper. And I remember the brown envelopes that stories would go off in - and come back in".

His life in the Berks County created an environment that influenced his Rabbit series as well as most of his novel and short stories. Updike graduated in the Shillington high school before joining Harvard after receiving a full scholarship. It is through his education in Harvard that he established himself as a major talent and with a lot of energy (Bailey, pg 67). This was through constant submission of articles and drawing in the Harvard Lampoon where he later served as president. It is from here where he graduated with a degree in English in 1954.

After graduating, he decided that he should pursue graphic art. Therefore, he attended The Ruskin School of Drawing and Fine Art at Oxford University. The urge of becoming a graphic art student was due that he wanted to be a cartoonist. Thereafter, his family moved to New York where he became an active member in contributing to The New York timer. In two years time, he was writing, " Talk of the Town in the magazine column. He in addition submitted poems and short stories. The collections of these stories that he was contributing in the magazine later filled his stories that he wrote. Some of the books that were so much influenced by these stories are carpentered hen (1958) and the same door (1959). The New York Timer influenced a lot of his work to a greater height.

During this time, he was undergoing spiritual crisis that led him loss his religious faith. However, theologian Karl Berth changed completely his religious life that featured later in his fictions work later influenced him. His life afterwards was religious until his death.

His career and reputation was so much nurtured by his close association to The New York Timer through frequently publishing his writing (Broer, pg 78). This was done even after he departed magazine employment after working there for two years. The magazine continued publishing his stories as it had a column that featured American short stories that were mostly fiction oriented. This made his short stories to be introduced to a wider reading public making his work to have a great applause in the country and beyond.

Career, novels and stories

Most of his work was involved in writing. For that reason, he wrote and published rabbit series in 1971. This was a response towards his life in 1960 where Rabbit portrayed a lot of confusion of the society and the way the politics of the country changed in United State at that time. In 1980, he published a novel that featured that character. The novel was entitled Rabbit Is Rich, which did very well and worn several awards that included Pulitzer Prize for Fiction, National Book Award, and National Book Critics Circle Award which are the three American most coveted literal prizes. The Rabbit series was very hard to complete for Updike as he had a lot of fun in writing this novel. This was through the imagination that was created by the county Rabbit where his family inhabited. It was not until 1990 that he published his last Rabbit novel that had a title Rabbit at Rest where the character died. This novel was the most celebrated work of Updike.

In 1995, his novels were collected by everyone library and put together forming  omnibus Rabbit Angstrom.. In the introduction, he wrote an introduction where he described Rabbit as "a ticket to the America all around me. What I saw through Rabbit's eyes was more worth telling than what I saw through my own, though the difference was often slight." He after word praised rabbit by  praising him as he commented, "a brother to me, and a good friend. He opened me up as a writer."

Some of the awards that Updike won included Pulitzer Prizes for Fiction, Two National Awards, and three National Book Critic Circles awards, National Medal of Arts in 1989, National Humanities Medal in 2003 and the Rea Awards for the Short Story for having outstanding achievements. In 2008, he was selected by the National Endowment for the Humanities to present  Jefferson Lecture which is the highest U.S government humanities honor where he represented a lecture that was entitled "The Clarity of Things: what is American about American art."

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Marriages and family

Updike married Mary E. Pennington who was a student in the Radcliffe College in 1953. Her wife accompanied him in oxford England where he joined the art school. It is in this place that they got their first born whom they named Elizabeth in1955. Thereafter, they were blessed with other three children. These children were David 1957, Michael 1959 and Miranda who was born in 1960. However, the couple divorced in 1974. Updike has several grandchildren. Later, he married Martha Ruggles who they lived with in Beverly farm in Massachusetts. With Martha, he lived with her until he died of cancer of lung when undergoing medication in hospice in Danvers Massachusetts on January 27 2009. This is when he was at the age of seventy-six.


Updike was a critic of literature and art. He had been cited for so long being the best American critics of his generation. Through the collection of his prose in 1975, he gave his rules that guide him in the literary criticism. The rules that he used to do this are, first, it is important to understand what the author's message is all about. After understanding his message, one should not blame him or her but otherwise try to help in achieving his/her goals. In putting across the criticism, he said that it is important to give enough direct quotation as much as possible. This will offer the readers and the authors of the criticized book have the taste of their work as much as possible.

In addition, it is important to confirm your description of the book through use of quotations from the book. In plot summary, go easy with it and do not make a mistake of giving away the ending. If the book is unsuccessful and it has been cited as deficient, one is supposed to ensure that cites some successful phrases and lines from the author or from elsewhere so us to ensure that one understand his/her failures. Finally, if you do  not like something in the book do not be predisposed by your friend or by other critics to like it. It is very important to be sincere in book review to ensure that you do not review the author's reputation. According to Updike, it is very important to submit to what is seen to be weak and what is strong. It is through these rules that he reviewed a number of books. Most of them being of the major writers of the 20th and 19th century. His book review helped the growth of talent of such writers such as Erica Jong, Thomas Mallon among other writers.

Reputation and style

Updike is one of the greatest fiction writers of his time. This made him and Morris Toni to be the most written about writers in the American novelist of their time. According to his funs, he was praised as the American last true man of letters where he gave a lot of influence to many writers. Many of his critic's applause his prose style that they talk of it being excellent. Most of the critics of his work has emphasized that his prose style is cannot be imitated and it contain rich description and good language that is full of wisdom. Some other critics talk of him being very fluent and even questioned the level of their seriousness due to the polish of his language. Otherwise, there others who argue that he use deep vocabulary that distances intellectuals and the emotions involvement of the readers. However, Updike  according to Clarkpg 69, is generally esteemed as a foremost man who have a lot of verbal intelligence, verbal prowess and is capable of incorporating sorrows, frustrations, and problems that were there in the American life.

According to James Wood who is a literal work critic, he called Updike a prose writer with a lot of beauty. However, he said that he is not sure that this beauty is enough for a novelist to convey  what is required to be conveyed in the novel. He said that the language of Updike according to WOOD is full of his faith and power that makes his reality floats above the reality.


The principle themes of Updike revolve around religion, sex, America as well as death. In most cases, he combines them especially when talking of the America like in the American small town, protestant middle class. An example f religion decline is seen in the book In the Beauty of Lilies that was written in 1996.

According to Edward Champion, Updike has favored external sexual imagery so much than explaining the internal emotion. Otherwise, Edward says that may be he was using this skill to ensure sex is made real in most of his prose. In addressing why he used prose method in his book he said in the book early stories 2004, that he wants to offer his stories the beauty that they deserve.


John Hoyer Updike has emerged one of the greatest writers who are to be remembered for a very long time despite of him resting in peace in 2009. His books pronounce more of his message and he has changed very many authors through his positive criticisms. He has been instrumental on the lives of many young who wish to emulate him. He has changed lives of many making them better through offering directions. Through him literature has grow to a great magnitude and  he has become a lime light to the whole nation of the country. This can be seen by the number of awards that he has received through his work. In deed, he is a real hero.


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