John Updike


John Updike, unlike many of today’s authors, wrote about what he knew and life experiences. Some people may say that this would make his writings boring or uninteresting. The way he writes, however, makes it applicable to almost everyone’s life. When John Updike was little he grew up in a small town in Pennsylvania and later moved to a small farm a couple miles away. He ended up going to Harvard university on a full ride scholarship. Updike wrote many books on his childhood. He wrote the short story Flight based on his early childhood in Shillington, a small town in Pennsylvania. He wrote On the Farm based on his older childhood life, on a small farm in Plowsville Pennsylvania. He also wrote the novel The Centuar based on his college life at Harvard. Most authors are known to be an “ Inch deep and a mile wide”, but Updike has lived through or experienced everything that he based his books on.


During the late 1950’s to early 1960’s John Updike was said to have faced a “Crisis of faith prompted by his conciousness of death’s inevitability.” ( 1 ,pg 2051) Because of this, John Updike started writing many short stories and novels about theological and religious issues. His books A Month of Sundays, Roger’s Version, and S actually form an updated version of Scarlet Letter. He was often referred to as the “ late twentieth century Hawthorne.”(1, pg2051) He also wrote The After Life which tells the life of a man’s continuation of life and journey to death. Another well book that he wrote on religion is Toward the End of Time which tells of a man’s life mounting to his death. Some people may say these writings sound morbid and uninteresting, but most people wonder about religion and death, but are to embarrassed to talk about it. That’s one reason why Updike’s works are so popular, these books talk about what people wonder but don’t want to ask.


Along with John Updike writing on experience and religious views, he also wrote on topics that interested the people. He wrote what some people have called the “ Rabbit Series”( 5-a) which tells of a man who is always trying to adapt to a continuously changing world and always searching for something more. Adapting to the constantly changing society is something that people are forced to deal with everyday. Also people are always searching for something new and exciting , so people are interested in these books they pertain to there lives.


Updike also wrote on the popular subject of marriage and realationships. He wrote many books that deal with the problems and stresses in relationships and marriages. These books are so popular because people deal with these types of problems everyday and are looking for any help that they can get. Some of the books that talk about relationships and marriages are Marry Me, Museums and Woman, and Problems.


Lastly, John Updike wrote numerous short stories and poems that deal with with sex and intercourse. His book Facing Nature with these types of poems. Whether people like it or not, it’s very true that people find anything that deals with sex is very entertaining. People, young and old, love to talk and read about sex.


Because of the many great writings John Updike has created, he has received many awards. To start off his long list of awards; In 1964 he was awarded a honorary doctoral degree from Ursinsus college. In 1967 Moravian college also awarded him a honorary doctoral degree. In 1974 Lafayette college he was awarded, again, the honorary doctoral degree. In 1982 was the last time he was awarded the honorary doctoral degree, which was from Albright college. In 1992 he was awarded the Doctors of Letters from Harvard University. In 1995 he was awarded the French rank “Commanduer de L’Orde des Artset Letteres” (2, pg 5) , also in the same year the book Rabbit at Rest won the Howells medal by the American Acadamy for arts and letters. In 1996 his novel In the Beauty of Lilies won the Ambassader book award. In 1997 he was awarded The Champion award from Jesuit magazine “America” for “ cultural contributions as a Christian writer.”(2,pg