John Updike More Matter: Essays And Criticism

ISBN 13 : 9780140289701

More Matter: Essays And Criticism

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9780140289701: More Matter: Essays And Criticism
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"More matter, with less art," Queen Gertrude advises Polonius; she sounds like a modern magazine editor. The appetite in the print trade is presently for real stuff -- the dirt, the poop, the nitty-gritty -- and not for the obliquities and tenuosities of fiction. A writer is almost never asked to write a story, let alone a poem; instead he or she is invited to pen introductions, reviews, and personal essays, preferably indiscreet. (Pen them, then fax them. Instant modemed communication and rapidly overlapping semes are à la mode.) Human curiosity, the abettor and stimulant of the fiction surge between Robinson Crusoe's adventures and Constance Chatterley's, has become ever more literal-minded and impatient with the proxies of the imagination. Present taste runs to the down-home divulgences of the talk show -- psychotherapeutic confession turned into public circus -- and to investigative journalism that, like so many heat-seeking missiles, seeks out the intimate truths, the very genitalia, of Presidents and princesses. It is as if, here at the end of a millennium, time is too precious to waste on anything but such central, perennially urgent data. And so it has come to pass that, in the 1990s, as I turned sixty and then reached sixty-two (senior discount at the movies!) and then passed retirement age, instead of devoting myself wholly to the elaboration of a few final theorems and dreams couched in the gauzy genres of make-believe, I have cranked out, in response to many a plausible request, the mass of more or less factual matter, of assorted prose, which Knopf has herewith heroically, indulgently printed and bound, my fifth such collection and -- dare we hope? -- my last.

In this terminal decade the editor of my favorite magazine, The New Yorker, became Tina Brown. It has been my bewildering professional experience to see the editors of that revered journal go from being much older, wiser heads, gray and authoritative, with a shamanistic mystique, to being all -- with the friendly exception of Roger Angell -- much younger than I, young enough in most cases to be my sons and daughters, with an adult child's willful and mysterious fondness for loud music, late nights, unheard-of celebrities, and electronic innovation. However, Ms. Brown's demeanor toward me, during her tenure, was engagingly benign, and I tried, albeit somewhat arthritically, to dance to her tune -- contributing, for instance, to the back-page "Shouts and Murmurs" which she revived from the days of Alexander Woollcott, and answering her call to write about Lana Turner and Gene Kelly, whose videos I was nostalgically happy to view. The magazine's books department passed, through a flurry of interim managers, from the relaxed custody of the late, gravel-voiced Edith Oliver to the more scholastic, tremulously sensitive care of Henry Finder. The kind of books, mostly fiction from Europe and other exotic realms, that I used to be assigned for review yielded to meatier fare, like biographies of such imposing figures as Isaac Newton, Abraham Lincoln, Queen Elizabeth II, and (my last assignment before Ms. Brown's abrupt departure for even greener pastures) Helen Keller. These august subjects subtended areas of knowledge shadowy to me, but the late William Shawn -- whose blessed memory has itself recently undergone some biographical elaboration -- made it a principle not to assign books to specialists in the field, so I was already habituated, as a reviewer, to being at sea and steering by starlight. Also, on their own intellectual initiative, the new editors composed, in the hope that I might become a Critic at Large, a few bouquets of related titles for me to admire and address; in this volume's section "Medleys," the first two conjunctions were my idea, and the next two theirs. Presciently, they had me tackle the Titanic a year before the movie swept all before it. Another ambitious assignment, on Edith Wharton and her cinematic spinoffs, took me uneasily into territory already thoroughly patrolled by Anthony Lane. He and I bumped heads in the dark of a midtown screening room and I beat a quick retreat.

Though The New Yorker has always been scrupulously, tirelessly edited, requests to write to a certain specified length and on a certain timely topic much less obtruded upon a writer's consciousness in the days when William Shawn sustained the editorial illusion of a full and ghostly freedom. Reviews were allowed to run until the reviewer felt depleted; now one aims at a shorter length of nine hundred words or a much longer of around three thousand. Snappy or expansive, take your pick. My reviewing habit, hard to break, was to quote extensively; just as the impossibly ideal map would be the same size as the territory mapped, the ideal review would quote the book in its entirety, without comment. In a strange way, the passing of the Cold War has made it harder to frame a literary opinion; the polarities of right versus left and red versus free lent a tension to aesthetic questions miles removed from the Manichaean global struggle. Fiction from the Communist world was inevitably considered from a political angle, but that of Europe and the Americas also crackled with miniature versions of the global clash, the debate, carried on country by country, between Marx and Adam Smith on how one should live. Economic realities, in the form of declining ad revenues, had at last overtaken The New Yorker, which for so long seemed exempt from the crasser considerations. Her model for renovation, Tina Brown let it be known, was the magazine edited by Harold Ross -- a peppier, saucier, and succincter publication that proclaimed itself not for the old lady from Dubuque. The old lady from Dubuque had become, over the years, one of the faithful subscribers, and then she got doddery. That a doddery contributor like myself might still have a part to play in the redesigned, more sharply angled pages was a comforting thought. I fell in love with the magazine as a child, from what seemed an immense distance. Appearing under the same Rea Irvin-designed title-type and department logos as White and Thurber and Cheever and those magical cartoons was for me a dream come true. It still is.

Let's face it, gentle reader: I set out to be a magazine writer, a wordsmith as the profession was understood in the industrial first half of the century, and I like seeing my name in what they used to call "hard type." The magazine rack at the corner drugstore beguiled me with its tough gloss. The academization and etherealization and latterly the devaluing deconstruction of the writer's trade in the second half of the century have taken me by surprise, though my Harvard education should have prepared me. Journalism has not only its social stimulations but its aesthetic virtues. An invitation into print, from however suspect a source, is an opportunity to make something beautiful, to discover within oneself a treasure that would otherwise have remained buried. When the call comes from beyond one's own language -- from a German, French, Brazilian, or Japanese publication -- the opportunity is to go back to basics, to write of one's own cultural context more bluntly than would be seemly at home, and to phrase an English that, in regard to the finished product, forms a preliminary stage. My two contributions to the Lufthansa Bordbuch (an elegant publication recently trimmed down) appeared in English and German both; otherwise, I explained the cold to Brazilians, my short stories to the Japanese, and my poems to the French with an agreeable sensation of hiding behind a foreign language, as when in my escapades as a cultural ambassador I spoke through a bilingual intermediary. Introducing works by other authors, especially those secure in the lists of immortality, offers the pleasure of another, pedagogic impersonation; the introductions to certain works of Melville, Wharton, and Henry Green gave me the quiet joys of a scholar as he adds his careful modicum to an extensive bibliography. The lecture on New York writing exploited the anthologies of others and marks another occasion when the rustle of mock-professorial robes cosseted my ears. "Religion and Literature" was actually a chapter in a textbook, The Religion Factor, published by a Presbyterian press; I took it upon myself, perhaps wickedly, to remind the presumed students of divinity that a once-healthy religion existed outside the Judaeo-Christian belief system and died, as it were, in literature's embrace. The itch to inform is perhaps as pernicious a goad to utterance as the itch to charm.

The invitations to inform or charm that come my way are limited by the meagre number of my areas of supposed expertise. Of golf I have had my say in Golf Dreams, though a foreword late to tee off offered itself for inclusion in More Matter. Suburban interrelations creep into discussions of dancing, suntanning, and the Fifties. Among living American authors, I take, it may be, an anomalously positive or at least hopeful view of our Republic's progress; hence I am occasionally trusted by the powers that be to expound on matters of state, as the reader can see in the first section. On the strength of my early cartooning ambitions, my single year at an English art school, and my willingness to feel happy in museums, Art and Antiques, The New Republic, and The New York Review of Books have over the years let me write on art and exhibits. One book, Just Looking, has already been made of such articles; this present volume holds, in addition to commentary on movies and photographs, those art reviews which did not, it seemed to me, require color illustration, or illustration at all.

As in my other eight-years' gatherings, Picked-Up Pieces, Hugging the Shore, and Odd Jobs, the last section rounds up snippets, some a mere paragraph, pertaining to me and my works. My excuses for this methodical narcissism are that all authorial activity is egoistic anyway and that close students of my work -- there are a few -- will be...

Présentation de l'éditeur :

More Matter is a collection of John Updike's best-loved critical essays and reflections.From the journals of John Cheever to the Queen of England, More Matter is a lively discussion on contemporary art, issues and people, told from the inimitable perspective of Pulitzer prizewinner John Updike. Wide ranging, incisive, witty and always superbly written, it has something to say about almost everyone - from Graham Greene to Bill Gates to Mickey Mouse - and everything - from sexual politics to spiritual matters to unopenable packages. It provides any number of intimate glimpses into how this remarkable mind works.Praise for More Matter:'Unlike most journalism, Updike's occasional writing is so exquisite as to repay multiple readings' Publishers Weekly'More Matter attests to Mr. Updike's remarkable versatility and to his ardent drive to turn all his observations into glittering, gossamer prose. . . . In his strongest pieces, Mr. Updike's awesome pictorial powers of description combine with a rigorous, searching intelligence to produce essays of enormous tactile power and conviction' New York Times'More Matter will leave even his closest followers amazed. . . . Updike can write about anything, in any form and at any length, and do it with intelligence and knowledge and grace and agility and wit-and oh, the prose' Pittsburgh Tribune Review John Updike was born in 1932 in Shillington, Pennsylvania. He graduated from Harvard College in 1954, and spent a year in Oxford, at the Ruskin School of Drawing and Fine Art. His novels, stories, and nonfiction collections have won numerous awards, including the Pulitzer Prize, the National Book Award, the National Book Critics Circle Award, the PEN/Faulkner Award and the Howells Medal of the American Academy of Arts and Letters. He died in January 2009.

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Description du livre Penguin Books Ltd, United Kingdom, 2014. Paperback. État : New. 198 x 129 mm. Language: English . Brand New Book. More Matter is a collection of John Updike s best-loved critical essays and reflections. From the journals of John Cheever to the Queen of England, More Matter is a lively discussion on contemporary art, issues and people, told from the inimitable perspective of Pulitzer prizewinner John Updike. Wide ranging, incisive, witty and always superbly written, it has something to say about almost everyone - from Graham Greene to Bill Gates to Mickey Mouse - and everything - from sexual politics to spiritual matters to unopenable packages. It provides any number of intimate glimpses into how this remarkable mind works. Praise for More Matter: Unlike most journalism, Updike s occasional writing is so exquisite as to repay multiple readings . (Publishers Weekly). More Matter attests to Mr. Updike s remarkable versatility and to his ardent drive to turn all his observations into glittering, gossamer prose.In his strongest pieces, Mr. Updike s awesome pictorial powers of description combine with a rigorous, searching intelligence to produce essays of enormous tactile power and conviction . (New York Times). More Matter will leave even his closest followers amazed.Updike can write about anything, in any form and at any length, and do it with intelligence and knowledge and grace and agility and wit - and oh, the prose . (Pittsburgh Tribune Review). John Updike was born in 1932 in Shillington, Pennsylvania. He graduated from Harvard College in 1954, and spent a year in Oxford, at the Ruskin School of Drawing and Fine Art. His novels, stories, and nonfiction collections have won numerous awards, including the Pulitzer Prize, the National Book Award, the National Book Critics Circle Award, the PEN/Faulkner Award and the Howells Medal of the American Academy of Arts and Letters. He died in January 2009. N° de réf. du libraire APG9780140289701

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Description du livre Penguin Books Ltd, United Kingdom, 2014. Paperback. État : New. 198 x 129 mm. Language: English . Brand New Book. More Matter is a collection of John Updike s best-loved critical essays and reflections. From the journals of John Cheever to the Queen of England, More Matter is a lively discussion on contemporary art, issues and people, told from the inimitable perspective of Pulitzer prizewinner John Updike. Wide ranging, incisive, witty and always superbly written, it has something to say about almost everyone - from Graham Greene to Bill Gates to Mickey Mouse - and everything - from sexual politics to spiritual matters to unopenable packages. It provides any number of intimate glimpses into how this remarkable mind works. Praise for More Matter: Unlike most journalism, Updike s occasional writing is so exquisite as to repay multiple readings Publishers Weekly More Matter attests to Mr. Updike s remarkable versatility and to his ardent drive to turn all his observations into glittering, gossamer prose.In his strongest pieces, Mr. Updike s awesome pictorial powers of description combine with a rigorous, searching intelligence to produce essays of enormous tactile power and conviction New York Times More Matter will leave even his closest followers amazed.Updike can write about anything, in any form and at any length, and do it with intelligence and knowledge and grace and agility and wit-and oh, the prose Pittsburgh Tribune Review John Updike was born in 1932 in Shillington, Pennsylvania. He graduated from Harvard College in 1954, and spent a year in Oxford, at the Ruskin School of Drawing and Fine Art. His novels, stories, and nonfiction collections have won numerous awards, including the Pulitzer Prize, the National Book Award, the National Book Critics Circle Award, the PEN/Faulkner Award and the Howells Medal of the American Academy of Arts and Letters. He died in January 2009. N° de réf. du libraire APG9780140289701

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Description du livre Penguin Books Ltd (UK) Okt 2014, 2014. Taschenbuch. État : Neu. 198x126x45 mm. Neuware - More Matter is a collection of John Updike's best-loved critical essays and reflections. From the journals of John Cheever to the Queen of England, More Matter is a lively discussion on contemporary art, issues and people, told from the inimitable perspective of Pulitzer prizewinner John Updike. Wide ranging, incisive, witty and always superbly written, it has something to say about almost everyone - from Graham Greene to Bill Gates to Mickey Mouse - and everything - from sexual politics to spiritual matters to unopenable packages. It provides any number of intimate glimpses into how this remarkable mind works. Praise for More Matter : 'Unlike most journalism, Updike's occasional writing is so exquisite as to repay multiple readings' Publishers Weekly 'More Matter attests to Mr. Updike's remarkable versatility and to his ardent drive to turn all his observations into glittering, gossamer prose. . . . In his strongest pieces, Mr. Updike's awesome pictorial powers of description combine with a rigorous, searching intelligence to produce essays of enormous tactile power and conviction' New York Times 'More Matter will leave even his closest followers amazed. . . . Updike can write about anything, in any form and at any length, and do it with intelligence and knowledge and grace and agility and wit-and oh, the prose' Pittsburgh Tribune Review John Updike was born in 1932 in Shillington, Pennsylvania. He graduated from Harvard College in 1954, and spent a year in Oxford, at the Ruskin School of Drawing and Fine Art. His novels, stories, and nonfiction collections have won numerous awards, including the Pulitzer Prize, the National Book Award, the National Book Critics Circle Award, the PEN/Faulkner Award and the Howells Medal of the American Academy of Arts and Letters. He died in January 2009. 897 pp. Englisch. N° de réf. du libraire 9780140289701

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