資料彙整   /   作家  /  John  Updike  約翰•厄普代克
John  Updike
約翰•厄普代克
圖片來源:http://www.upenn.edu/pennnews/current/2000/040600/updike.jpeg
主要文類:Others
資料提供者:May Su/蘇子惠
關鍵字詞:American poetry

John Updike
美國小說家、詩人
蘇子惠
 
 
 早年生活
 
  約翰•厄普代克出生於美國賓夕法尼亞州瑞丁市(Reading),父親衛斯理(Wesley R. Updike)在高中任數學教師,母親琳達•格雷斯•霍耶(Linda Grace Hoyer)以作家為業,厄普代克是家中獨子。一九四五年,厄普代克舉家遷往瑞丁市近郊的席林頓(Shillington),一家三口在大農莊裡生活。厄普代克年少時得過牛皮癬,又有口吃毛病,童年不免蒙上一層陰影,母親鼓吹他寫作抒發心情,厄普代克得以逃遁進入神祕的小說世界中,飽覽推理小說家厄爾•史坦利•賈德納(Erle Stanley Gardner,1889∼1970年)、艾勒里.昆恩(Ellery Queen,1905∼1982年)、阿嘉莎•克莉絲蒂(Agatha Christie,1890∼1976年)以及約翰•狄克森.卡爾(John Dickson Carr,1906∼1977年)等人作品。

厄普代克高中畢業後獲得獎學金,一九五○年就讀哈佛大學(Harvard University)英文系,他在研究藝術之餘,還編纂哈佛大學刊物《諷刺》(Lampoon,以創刊最早的幽默雜誌聞名)。厄普代克靠畫漫畫起家,而後轉型寫詩和散文,一九五三年娶第一唯一教會(First Unitarian Church)牧師女兒瑪麗•潘寧頓(Mary Pennington)為妻,翌年拿到文學學位,隔年獲得諾克斯獎學金(Knox Fellowship),赴英國牛津大學拉斯金美術學校(Ruskin School of Drawing and Fine Art)研習藝術。

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 作家生涯起點:《紐約客》雜誌
 
  厄普代克在英國待滿一年後返美,成為《紐約客》雜誌(The New Yorker)「城中話題」(Talk of the Town)專欄作者,同年在《紐約客》刊登短篇小說處女作〈費城友人〉(“Friends from Philadelphia”),他陸續發表了社論、詩作、小說及書評迄一九五七年為止,隨後舉家遷至麻州易普威治鎮(Ipswich)。厄普代克自二十三歲起靠寫作維生,辭去《紐約客》工作後專事寫作,定居易普威治鎮長達十七年之久,該鎮也成為小說《夫婦們》(Couples,1968年)中虛構的塔巴斯鎮(Tarbox)場景,書中描述幾對年輕鄉下夫妻的性愛生活,被抨擊為《冷暖人間》(Peyton Place)「小鎮版」。一九五八年,厄普代克出版詩集《木匠母雞和其他馴獸》(The Carpentered Hen and Other Tame Creatures),初以詩人之姿嶄露頭角,他的第一部長篇小說《貧民院義賣會》(The Poorhouse Fair,1959年)則以老人之家居民作為故事主軸。

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 「兔子四部曲」
 
  批評家咸認《兔子,快跑》(Rabbit, Run,1960年)一書出版,是厄普代克在文學生涯上的重大突破。《兔子,快跑》是厄普代克「兔子」四部曲中的第一部,其他三部曲有《兔子歸來》(Rabbit Redux,1971年)、《兔子富了》(Rabbit Is Rich,1981年)以及《兔子安息》(Rabbit at Rest,1990年),故事情節以暱稱「兔子」的主角哈利•安斯特龍姆(Harry “Rabbit” Angstrom)生平為主。在《兔子,快跑》中,「兔子」是瑞典人後裔,長得高帥瀟灑,是高中籃球校隊明星,不過「兔子」婚後卻陷入人生困境,想奔走逃避,首部曲便以「奔跑」(Runs)一詞作為結尾。值得一提的是,厄普代克用英文現在式寫作,小說情節充斥瀰漫某種電影氛圍;《兔子歸來》的「歸來」(Redux)在拉丁文意即「復活」(brought back),「兔子」此時已是步入中年的中產階級商人,老婆不貞打亂了他整個人生,故事結尾「好吧」(O.K.?)餘下的問題,留給讀者思考的空間;《兔子富了》的結尾「他的」(His)也是一絕;《兔子安息》場景設定在一九八○年代末期,時值美國社會凋零衰敝、愛滋噩夢籠罩,老「兔子」身材發福,不時胸痛難抑,自覺「身體內裡除了黑暗仍是黑暗……」;「兔子」四部曲不僅描述年輕「兔子」從高中籃球明星進入婚姻生活,歷經婚外情和中年致富,直到他過世為止,同時呈現出美國戰後四十年來社會歷史的全貌。到了二○○○年,厄普代克又意猶未盡地寫下中篇小說〈兔子回憶〉(Rabbit Remembered),收錄於短篇小說集《愛的插曲》(Licks of Love),交代「兔子」去世的後續情節;「兔子」的遺族參加感恩節家族聚會,晚餐桌上的氣氛劍拔弩張。

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 其他主要作品
 
  長篇小說《半人馬》(The Centaur,1963年)採用神話表現手法,探討校長父親和兒子的關係,一舉摘下美國國家圖書獎小說獎(National Book Award for fiction)。《半人馬》內容是中年畫家兒子對父親的回憶,揉合了希臘羅馬神話中天神宙斯寵愛的半人馬齊倫(Chiron)的傳說,畫家把父親想像成現代齊倫,高貴地活在冷漠的世上,聽從自身命運的擺布。《夫婦們》(Couples,1968年)是厄普代克最受歡迎、也是最具爭議性的小說,檢視現代人過度輕率的性行為,「情慾」這個主題也普遍出現在厄普代克的作品中。《嫁給我》(Marry Me,1976年)敘述傑瑞(Jerry)和莎莉(Sally)夫妻二人婚姻不睦、外遇背叛的故事,值得一提的是,作者透過錯綜複雜的修辭系統,包括隱喻、典故以及意象等,呈現主角精神不穩定的狀態。《政變》(The Coup,1979年)採取第一人稱觀點,描述一個非洲虛構國家前獨裁者充滿異國情調的故事。

一九七○年,厄普代克的短篇小說集《貝克》(Bech,1970年)出現另一名要角亨利•貝克(Henry Bech),其在文壇重要性不亞於「兔子」。貝克是猶太裔美籍作家,在詭譎多變的學術圈中打滾,飽受文壇盛名負累;《貝克歸來》(Bech is Back,1982年)和《海灣的貝克》(Bech at Bay,1998年)敘述主角在諾貝爾頒獎典禮上「反高潮」(anti-climactic)的行徑。另一本短篇小說集《遙不可及》(Too Far to Go,1979年)中,理察(Richard)和瓊安(Joan)夫婦倆既酗酒又婚姻出軌,二人縱慾享樂的生活方式,突顯一九七○年代傳統的價值觀已蕩然無存。《羅傑教授的版本》(Roger's Version,1986年)則有意模仿美國作家納撒尼爾•霍桑(Nathaniel Hawthorne,1804∼1864年)小說《紅字》(The Scarlet Letter)中人物性格以及神學的探討,冀望透過電腦程式來理解上帝存在的可能性。

二○○○年,厄普代克出版莎翁悲劇《哈姆雷特》(Hamlet)前傳《葛楚德與克勞狄斯》(Gertrude and Claudius),戲分不再偏重王子復仇,主角換成哈姆雷特的母后葛楚德以及她的國王丈夫,還有國王胞弟克勞狄斯。二○○三年,厄普代克以短篇小說集《早期故事》(The Early Stories: 1953-1975)抱走普立茲獎(Pulitzer Prize),他首度採用故事集錦,追溯美國過去二十年來文化上的演進,同時回顧自身創作主題和風格上的轉變。《恐怖分子》(Terrorist,2006年)是厄普代克第二十二本小說,藉由一名十八歲伊斯蘭恐怖分子觀點,嚴詞批判美國文化。

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 作品主題
 
  厄普代克長年定居麻州新英格蘭區(New England),距波士頓(Boston)僅二十哩之遙,小說背景也多設定在此。批評家咸認厄普代克的作品批判美國人的道德觀和社會結構,厄普代克是性情溫和的諷刺作家,喜歡戲謔美式生活習慣,卻鮮少出現眼界狹窄的懷疑言論。他縝密觀察日常生活,經常要求讀者承認並反省自身偏見,短篇小說〈破產者〉(”The Bankrupt Man”,1983年)即是一例,全盤顛覆一般人對破產者的看法,證明他們依然可以過得很好。

在厄普代克看來,性(sex)、藝術(art)以及宗教(religion)是人類經驗裡面「三項偉大而神祕的事物」。有批評家讚美厄普代克不斷描寫赤裸裸的性愛場面,是人性慾望的誠實表現,也有批評家認為純屬情色,不值一哂,幾名衛道人士甚至表示,厄普代克筆下的女性專事剝削(exploitative)、擅於排擠同性(misogynistic)。儘管上述爭論不斷,許多學者仍肯定厄普代克的文學成就,他經常探討基督教的道德觀,作品堅定地審視現代人的精神層面,人類存在主題也恆常出現在他的作品中。厄普代克一直維持閱讀神學書籍的習慣,定期上教堂做禮拜,方便作為日常生活的指引。

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References
 
 

“John Updike,” in Contemporary Authors Online. (A profile of the author's life and works)

“John Updike,” in Dictionary of Literary Biography, Volume 218: American Short-Story Writers Since World War II, Second Series. A Bruccoli Clark Layman Book. Edited by Patrick Meanor, State University of New York at Oneonta, and Gwen Crane, State University of New York at Oneonta. Gale Group, 1999, pp. 311-335.

“John Updike,” in Contemporary Literary Criticism-Select. (A brief review of the author's life, works, and critical reception)

“John Updike,” in Dictionary of Literary Biography, Volume 2: American Novelists Since World War II, First Series. A Bruccoli Clark Layman Book. Edited by Jeffrey Helterman, University of South Carolina and Richard Layman, Columbia, South Carolina. The Gale Group, 1978, pp. 484-491.

“John Updike,” in Dictionary of Literary Biography, Volume 143: American Novelists Since World War II, Third Series. A Bruccoli Clark Layman Book. The Gale Group, 1994, pp. 250-276.

“John Updike,” in Dictionary of Literary Biography, Volume 5: American Poets Since World War II, First Series. A Bruccoli Clark Layman Book. Edited by Donald J. Greiner, University of South Carolina. The Gale Group, 1980, pp. 327-334.

“John Updike,” in Dictionary of Literary Biography, Volume 227: American Novelists Since World War II, Sixth Series. A Bruccoli Clark Layman Book. Edited by James H. Giles, Northern Illinois University and Wanda R. Giles, Northern Illinois University. The Gale Group, 2000, pp. 295-323.

“John Updike” in American Writers

“John Updike,” in Contemporary Literary Criticism-Select. (A brief review of the author's life, works, and critical reception)

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John Updike
1932-
American novelist and poet
蘇子惠
 
 
 Early Life
 
  John Updike was born in Reading, Pennsylvania, the only child of Wesley R. Updike, a high-school mathematics teacher, and Linda Grace Hoyer, a writer. In 1945, his family moved to a large farm outside of town in Shillington, a smaller city near Reading. Updike’s childhood was shadowed by psoriasis and stammering, but his mother encouraged him to write. Escaping to the world of mystery novels, he consumed books by Erle Stanley Gardner, Ellery Queen, Agatha Christie and John Dickson Carr.

In 1950, Updike received a scholarship to study at Harvard University where he studied art and edited the Harvard Lampoon, the world’s oldest humor magazine. He started as a cartoonist, but then shifted to poetry and prose. In 1953, Updike married Mary Pennington, the daughter of a minister of the First Unitarian Church. In 1954, he graduated with a B.A. in English and a year later received a Knox Fellowship to attend the Ruskin School of Drawing and Fine Art in Oxford, England.

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 Literary Career: The New Yorkere
 
  After a year in England, Updike returned to America, having been offered a job writing for the “Talk of the Town” section at The New Yorker; this magazine published his first short story “Friends from Philadelphia” in 1954. Updike wrote editorials, poetry, stories and criticism for the magazine until 1957, when he moved with his family to Ipswich, Massachusetts, to pursue writing full-time. From the age of 23, Updike supported himself by writing. He moved to Ipswich where he lived for seventeen years. The small town became the model for Tarbox in his novel Couples (1968). The portrait of sexual passion among a group of young suburban married couples was criticized as merely an “uptown Peyton Place.” In 1958, Updike made his debut as a poet with the volume The Carpentered Hen and Other Tame Creatures. Updike's first novel, The Poorhouse Fair (1959), was about the residents of an old people's home. Basically Updike was trying to write a novel, as he once confessed, “which would serve, in its breadth, as a base for further novels.”

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 Rabbit Tetralogy
 
  Critics view Rabbit, Run (1960) as Updike’s literary breakthrough, marking the first of four novels—including Rabbit Redux (1971), Rabbit Is Rich (1981)and Rabbit at Rest (1990)—which detail the life of Harry “Rabbit” Angstrom. The first book about Updike’s famous hero, Harry Angstrom, the natural athlete, a sexually magnetic, blue-eyed Swede, ended with the verb “Runs.” Updike wrote the book in the present tense, giving it a sort of cinematic quality. In Rabbit, Redux—Redux is Latin for brought back—Harry is a middle-aged bourgeois, who finds his life shattered by the infidelity of his wife. Updike leaves the reader with a question—O.K.? The last word in Rabbit Is Rich was ‘His.’ Rabbit at Rest, set in the late 1980s, paralleled the decay of society, AIDS-plagued America, and Rabbit's swollen body, his chest pains and his feeling that there is “nothing under you but black space...” Tracing Rabbit’s experiences as a high-school basketball star on through marriage, frequent infidelities, financial prosperity, and his death in the 1980s, Updike's tetralogy chronicles four decades of postwar American social history. The novella Rabbit Remembered, from the short fiction collection Licks of Love (2000), serves as an epilogue in which Rabbit's surviving family gathers for an emotionally volatile Thanksgiving dinner.

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 Other Works
 
  The Centaur (1963) used a mythological framework to explore the relationship of a schoolmaster father and his son. Winner of the National Book Award for fiction, The Centaur consists of a middle-aged painter’s memories of his father coupled with an adaptation of the mythical story of Chiron, the centaur beloved by Zeus. The painter imagines his father as a modern-day Chiron, nobly enduring his fate in an indifferent world. Couples (1968) is one of Updike’s most popular and controversial examinations of the sexual indiscretions, a prevalent theme throughout his work. Marry Me (1976) illuminates themes of spousal incompatibility and betrayal in the adulterous love story of Jerry and Sally. This novel is notable for the complex system of metaphors, allusions and imagery used to represent the protagonist’s fluctuating mental health. The Coup (1979) was an exotic first-person narration by an ex-dictator of a fictitious African state.

In 1970, Updike introduced another noted recurring character, Henry Bech. The short stories in Bech (1970) follow the life of the Jewish-American author as he endures the rigors of literary celebrity and the fickle nature of the academic world. Bech is Back (1982) and Bech at Bay (1998) follow the character’s career up through his anti-climactic Nobel Prize award ceremony. Too Far to Go (1979), another collection of stories, focuses on an alcoholic couple named Richard and Joan Maple whose infidelities and hedonistic lifestyle highlight the breakdown of traditional values in the 1970s. Borrowing from the characterizations and theological considerations of Hawthorne's The Scarlet Letter, Roger's Version (1986) ponders the possibility of understanding God via computer programming.

In 2000 appeared Updike’s prequel Gertrude and Claudius to Hamlet, in which the moody prince is not the central character but the story focuses on his mother Queen Gertrude, her husband, and Claudius, her husband’s younger brother. Updike received Pulitzer Prize for The Early Stories: 1953-1975 (2003). Presented in one volume for the first time, these stories trace the progression of American culture over twenty years as well as Updike’s thematic and stylistic development. Terrorist (2006), Updike's 22nd novel, was about an 18-year-old Islamic extremist, whose critique of American culture is literally deadly.

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 Critical Reception
 
  Updike has lived in New England, where most of his fiction is set, and in Massachusetts, about twenty miles from Boston. Critics widely view his work as a commentary on the moral and social fabric of American life. Updike is a gentle satirist, poking fun at American life and customs, without any mean-spirited nihilism. He observes the ordinary life, and frequently asks the reader to recognize and reconsider preconceptions. In “The Bankrupt Man” (1983), Updike turns upside-down the common views of a bankrupt and proves that there is an afterlife: “The bankrupt man buys himself a motorcycle.

Updike called sex, art and religion “the three great secret things” in human experience. His recurring use of graphic sexuality has been praised by some reviewers as an honest celebration of human desire, but condemned by others as merely pornographic. Moreover, several critics have characterized Updike’s portrayal of women as exploitative and misogynistic. Despite such controversial subject matter, Updike is considered by many scholars as an author who often focuses on Christian mores, and his novels and stories are frequently lauded for their steadfast examination of modern man's spiritual condition. Existential questions have been in the center of Updike’s work from the beginning of his career. He has also read theologians for guidance and regularly attended church for worship.

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References
 
 

“John Updike,” in Contemporary Authors Online. (A profile of the author's life and works)

“John Updike,” in Dictionary of Literary Biography, Volume 218: American Short-Story Writers Since World War II, Second Series. A Bruccoli Clark Layman Book. Edited by Patrick Meanor, State University of New York at Oneonta, and Gwen Crane, State University of New York at Oneonta. Gale Group, 1999, pp. 311-335.

“John Updike,” in Contemporary Literary Criticism-Select. (A brief review of the author's life, works, and critical reception)

“John Updike,” in Dictionary of Literary Biography, Volume 2: American Novelists Since World War II, First Series. A Bruccoli Clark Layman Book. Edited by Jeffrey Helterman, University of South Carolina and Richard Layman, Columbia, South Carolina. The Gale Group, 1978, pp. 484-491.

“John Updike,” in Dictionary of Literary Biography, Volume 143: American Novelists Since World War II, Third Series. A Bruccoli Clark Layman Book. The Gale Group, 1994, pp. 250-276.

“John Updike,” in Dictionary of Literary Biography, Volume 5: American Poets Since World War II, First Series. A Bruccoli Clark Layman Book. Edited by Donald J. Greiner, University of South Carolina. The Gale Group, 1980, pp. 327-334.

“John Updike,” in Dictionary of Literary Biography, Volume 227: American Novelists Since World War II, Sixth Series. A Bruccoli Clark Layman Book. Edited by James H. Giles, Northern Illinois University and Wanda R. Giles, Northern Illinois University. The Gale Group, 2000, pp. 295-323.

“John Updike” in American Writers

“John Updike,” in Contemporary Literary Criticism-Select. (A brief review of the author's life, works, and critical reception)

 

 
 
 

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