Essays and Criticism
Format: Trade Paperback, 896 pages
Publisher: Random House Trade Paperbacks
ISBN: 978-0-8129-8378-4 (0-8129-8378-5)
Pub Date: January 15, 2013
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WINNER OF THE NATIONAL BOOK CRITICS CIRCLE AWARD
“Writing criticism is to writing fiction and poetry as hugging the shore is to sailing in the open sea,” writes John Updike in his Foreword to this collection of literary considerations. But the sailor doth protest too much: This collection begins somewhere near deep water, with a flotilla of short fiction, humor pieces, and personal essays, and even the least of the reviews here—those that “come about and draw even closer to the land with another nine-point quotation”—are distinguished by a novelist’s style, insight, and accuracy, not just surface sparkle. Indeed, as James Atlas commented, the most substantial critical articles, on Melville, Hawthorne, and Whitman, go out as far as Updike’s fiction: They are “the sort of ambitious scholarly reappraisal not seen in this country since the death of Edmund Wilson.” With Hugging the Shore, Michiko Kakutani wrote, Updike established himself “as a major and enduring critical voice; indeed, as the pre-eminent critic of his generation.”
“No living American novelist can match Updike in the range and responsiveness of his reading. . . . [Literature is] a house with many mansions, and in Hugging the Shore Updike gives a splendid, striding tour.”—James Wolcott, Harper’s
“These reviews are models of craft—and something more. . . . Hugging the Shore bristles with erudition, energy, and (quietly asserted) high seriousness; it is also one of the year’s most entertaining books.”—Bruce Allen, The Christian Science Monitor
“[Updike’s is] a body of literary criticism unmatched in range, discrimination and eloquence by any American novelist since Henry James.”—The Boston Globe
John Updike was born in Shillington, Pennsylvania, in 1932. He graduated from Harvard College in 1954 and spent a year in Oxford, England, at the Ruskin School of Drawing and Fine Art. From 1955 to 1957 he was a member of the staff of The New Yorker. His novels have won the Pulitzer Prize, the National Book Award, the National Book Critics Circle Award, the Rosenthal Foundation Award, and the William Dean Howells Medal. In 2007 he received the Gold Medal for Fiction from the American Academy of Arts and Letters. John Updike died in January 2009.
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