European Perspectives on John Updike

European Perspectives on John Updike

Edited by Laurence W. Mazzeno, Sue Norton

A collection of essays that perceive Updike's America through the eyes of Western and Eastern European readers and scholars, contributing to Updike scholarship while demonstrating his resonance across the Atlantic.

From the publication in 1958 of his first book, The Carpentered Hen and Other Tame Creatures, the American writer John Updike attracted an international readership. His books have been translated into twenty-three languages. He had a strong following in the United Kingdom, where his books were routinely reviewed in all the leading national newspapers. In Germany, France, Italy, and other countries too, his books were discussed in major publications. Although Updike died in 2009, interest in his writing remains strong among European scholars. They are active in the John Updike Society and on the John Updike Review (which began publishing in 2011). During the past four decades, several Europeans have influenced the study of Updike worldwide. No recent volume, however, collects diverse European views on his oeuvre. The current book fills that void, presenting essays that perceive Updike's renditions of America through the eyes of scholar-readers from both Western and Eastern Europe.

Contributors: Kasia Boddy, Teresa Botelho, Biljana Dojcinovic, Brian Duffy, Karin Ikas, Ulla Kriebernegg, Sylvie Mathé, Judie Newman, Sue Norton, Andrew Tate, Aristi Trendel, Eva-Sabine Zehelein.

Laurence W. Mazzeno is President Emeritus of Alvernia University. Sue Norton is a Lecturer in English at the Dublin Institute of Technology.

Table of Contents

Introduction: Updike as Europeans See Him - Laurence W. Mazzeno and Sue Norton
Under His Skin: Reconstructing the Adolescent Longings of a Would-Be Terrorist - Teresa Botelho
"At the other end of life's rainbow": Rabbit's Journey from Adolescence to Old Age and Other Transcendental Trajectories - Eva-Sabine Zehelein
Intimations of Mortality: Death's Shadow in Updike's Oeuvre - Sylvie Mathé
Back to the Garden: American Longing in John Updike's Couples - Sue Norton
Women in John Updike's Villages: Back to the Madonna and Whore - Brian Duffy
The Art of Love: Pierre Bourdieu, Cultural Production, and Seek My Face - Karin Ikas
Psalmist of the Everyday: Late Updike, Aesthetics, and the Language of Praise - Andrew Tate
Guilt, Shame, and Hope in Updike's Short Fiction: "The Music School," "Guilt-Gems," and "Deaths of Distant Friends" - Aristi Trendel
Signs of Omission?: Socialist Erasure of Religion in John Updike's Work - Biljana Dojcinovic
"Hey, Come on, We're All Americans Here": The Representation of Muslim-American Identity in John Updike's Terrorist - Ulla Kriebernegg
Intertextual Updike: Gertrude and Claudius - Judie Newman
Rabbit and the News - Kasia Boddy


This book doesn't just cover new critical ground - it's an eye-opening take on an author whose fiction has been associated with American pop culture as much as anyone's. Especially in this new climate of nationalism it's an important reminder that opinions can and do vary according to culture and geography, and that we can learn much about ourselves and our treasured authors through volumes such as this.-James Plath, Illinois Wesleyan University

This is a timely and smart collection that wonderfully illuminates the diverse critical response that Updike's fiction has generated outside of the United States. The twelve essays in the book fruitfully revisit the themes (sex, mortality, aging, religion) that were most central to Updike's immense body of work while also shedding light on new avenues of inquiry that future scholars might pursue. Indeed, the volume offers a revealing overview of what made Updike one of the most important writers of his generation. A thoughtful and important collection for those interested in Updike and post-1945 American fiction. - Matthew Shipe, Washington University in St. Louis

Norton's well-edited collection provides further evidence of Updike's enduring popularity outside the US. CHOICE

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