100 Great Quotes By John Updike For Literary Arbiters
Reading, Pennsylvania, United States
John Updike was an eminent art critic, short story writer, novelist, literary critic and poet. He won the ‘Pulitzer Prize’ more than once and is one of the three writers to have achieved this feat - the other two being, ‘William Faulkner’ and ‘Booth Tarkington’. During his career he published more than a dozen short stories, children’s books, poetry, art and literary criticism and approximately twenty novels. Starting 1954, his stories, viewpoints, thoughts, reviews and poems appeared in ‘The New Yorker’. The most sought-after work by John Updike is his ‘Rabbit’ series that showcases the life of Harry “Rabbit” Angstrom over several decades starting from young to death. Following is a compilation of quotes and sayings by the prolific writer which have been excerpted from his writings, books, thoughts, poems, articles, short stories, work and life. Presenting quotable quotes and thoughts by John Updike on rain, nature, freedom, power, barefoot, mask, celebrity, conspiracy, hobbies, age, wisdom, relax, sports, creativity, poetry, writing, faith, purpose, victory etc.
It is easy to love people in memory; the hard thing is to love them when they are there in front of you. Dreams come true. Without that possibility, nature would not incite us to have them. Celebrity is a mask that eats into the face. Suspect each moment, for it is a thief, tiptoeing away with more than it brings. The true New Yorker secretly believes that people living anywhere else have to be, in some sense, kidding. If you have the guts to be yourself, other people'll pay your price. We do survive every moment, after all, except the last one. I want to write books that unlock the traffic jam in everybody's head. What art offers is space – a certain breathing room for the spirit. How can you respect the world when you see it's being run by a bunch of kids turned old? Any activity becomes creative when the doer cares about doing it right, or better. Everybody who tells you how to act has whiskey on their breath. You do things and do things and nobody really has a clue. The artist brings something into the world that didn't exist before, and he does it without destroying something else. The world keeps ending but new people too dumb to know it keep showing up as if the fun's just started. That's the trouble with caring about anybody, you begin to feel overprotective. Then you begin to feel crowded. Looking foolish does the spirit good. The need not to look foolish is one of youth's many burdens; as we get older we are exempted from more and more. Writers may be disreputable, incorrigible, early to decay or late to bloom but they dare to go it alone Being able to write becomes a kind of shield, a way of hiding, a way of too instantly transforming pain into honey. But it seems to me that once you begin a gesture it's fatal not to go through with it. So much love, too much love, it is our madness, it is rotting us out, exploding us like dandelion polls. A leader is one who, out of madness or goodness, volunteers to take upon himself the woe of the people. There are few men so foolish, hence the erratic quality of leadership. Children are not a zoo of entertainingly exotic creatures, but an array of mirrors in which the human predicament leaps out at us. What is the past, after all, but a vast sheet of darkness in which a few moments, pricked apparently at random, shine? But it is just two lovers, holding hands and in a hurry to reach their car, their locked hands a starfish leaping through the dark. There is this quality, in things, of the right way seeming wrong at first. We are cruel enough without meaning to be. Americans have been conditioned to respect newness, whatever it costs them. The Founding Fathers in their wisdom decided that children were an unnatural strain on parents. So they provided jails called schools, equipped with tortures called an education. If she’d been born at the right time they would have burned her over in Salem. We were all brought up to want things and maybe the world isn't big enough for all that wanting. I don't know. I don't know anything Museums and bookstores should feel, I think, like vacant lots - places where the demands on us are our own demands, where the spirit can find exercise in unsupervised play. I like old men. They can be wonderful bastards because they have nothing to lose. The only people who can be themselves are babies and old bastards. Wickedness was like food: once you got started it was hard to stop; the gut expanded to take in more and more. ...hate suits him better than forgiveness. Immersed in hate, he doesn't have to do anything; he can be paralyzed, and the rigidty of hatred makes a kind of shelter for him. When I write, I aim in my mind not toward New York but toward a vague spot a little to the east of Kansas. Suddenly summoned to witness something great and horrendous, we keep fighting not to reduce it to our own smallness. From infancy on, we are all spies; the shame is not this but that the secrets to be discovered are so paltry and few. Not only are selves conditional but they die. Each day, we wake slightly altered, and the person we were yesterday is dead. So why, one could say, be afraid of death, when death comes all the time? Having children is something we think we ought to do because our parents did it, but when it is over the children are just other members of the human race, rather disappointingly. Students present themselves...like a succession of CDs whose shimmering surface gives no clue to their contents without the equipment to play them. What you haven't done by thirty you're not likely to do. What you have done you'll do lots more. Women, fire in their crotch, won't burn out, begin by fighting off pricks, end by going wild hunting for one that still works. Hope bases vast premises upon foolish accidents and reads a word where, in fact, only a scribble exists. It's been the same story ever since I can remember, ever since Wilson – the Republicans don't do a thing for the little man. People go around mourning the death of God; it's the death of sssin that bothers me. Without ssin, people aren't people any more, they're just ssoul-less sheep. The fucking world is running out of gas. But cities aren’t like people; they live on and on, even though their reason for being where they are has gone downriver and out to sea. I once did something right. I played first-rate basketball. I really did. And after you're first-rate at something, no matter what, it kind of takes the kick out of being second-rate. We are each of us like our little blue planet, hung in black space, upheld by nothing but our mutual reassurances, our loving lies. How sad, how strange, we make companions out of air and hurt them, so they will defy us, completing creation. There is no doubt that I have lots of words inside me; but at moments, like rush-hour traffic at the mouth of a tunnel, they jam. It comes to him: growth is betrayal. There is no other route. There is no arriving somewhere without leaving somewhere. History. The more of it you have the more you have to live it. After a little while there gets to be too much of it to memorize and maybe that's when empires start to decline. All love is betrayal, in that it flatters life. The loveless man is best armed. Days, pale slices between nights, they blend, not exactly alike, transparencies so lightly tinted that only stacked all together do they darken to a fatal shade. Let us not mock God with metaphor,
Analogy, sidestepping, transcendence;
Making of the event a parable, a sign painted in the
Faded credulity of earlier ages:
Let us walk through the door. As if pity is, as he has been taught, not a helpless outcry but a powerful tide that could redeem the world... We are most alive when we're in love. We wake at different times, and the gallantest flowers are those that bloom in the cold. The fullness ends when we give Nature her ransom, when we make children for her. Then she is through with us, and we become, first inside, and then outside, junk. Flower stalks. [I]n my own case at least I feel my professional need for freedom of speech and expression prejudices me toward a government whose constitution guarantees it. I like middles. . . It is in middles that extremes clash, where ambiguity restlessly rules. On the single strand of wire strung to bring our house electricity, grackles and starlings neatly punctuated an invisible sentence. Laws aren't ghosts in this country, they walk around with the smell of earth on them. The scrape and snap of Keds on loose alley pebbles seems to catapult their voices high into the moist March air blue above the wires. How many more, I must ask myself,
such perfect ends of Augusts will I witness? What is this? He has a sensation of touching glass. He doesn't know if they are talking about nothing or making code for the deepest meanings. Whatever men make," she says, "what they felt when they made it is there...Man is a means for turning things into spirit and turning spirit into things. Sex is like money; only too much is enough. It frightens him to think of her this way. It makes her seem, in terms of love, so vast. One does not go to Moscow to get fat. Oh,' she says, 'the Vat prints nothing but rapes. You know what a rape usually is? It's a woman who changed her mind afterward. The difficulty with humorists is that they will mix what they believe with what they don’t—whichever seems likelier to win an effect. That's why we love disaster, Harry sees it, puts us back in touch with guilt and sends us crawling back to God There is no such thing as static happiness. Happiness is a mixed thing, a thing compounded of sacrifices, and losses, and betrayals. The universe is a pointless, self running machine, and we are insignificant by-products, whom death will tuck back into oblivion, with or without holy fanfare. The refusal to rest content, the willingness to risk excess on behalf of one's obsessions, is what distinguishes artists from entertainers, and what makes some artists adventurers on behalf of us all. It was somehow wonderful of her to be, in every detail, herself. They’ve not forgotten him: worse, they never heard of him. I was made to feel I could do things. If you get this feeling early and can hold it until you're 15, you tend to never lose it. Critics are like pigs at the pastry cart. You are still you. The U.S. is still the U.S., held together by credit cards and Indian names Smaller than a breadbox, bigger than a TV remote, the average book fits into the human hand with a seductive nestling, a kiss of texture, whether of cover cloth, glazed jacket, or flexible paperback. Nature may be defined as that which exists without guilt. Part of being human is being on the verge of disgrace. Atrocity is truly emperor; All things that thrive are slaves of cruel Creation. Though old himself, he disliked old men. I would write ads for deodorants or labels for catsup bottles, if I had to. The miracle of turning inklings into thoughts and thoughts into words and words into metal and print and ink never palls for me. As souls must cry when they awaken in tiny babies and find themselves far from heaven First snow: it came this year late in November.
Sun and moon, sun and moon, time goes.
With his white collar he forges god’s name on every word he speaks
He doesn't blame people for many sins, but he does hate uncoordination, the root of all evil, as he feels it, for without coordination there can be no order, no connecting.
The fiction writer is the ombudsman who argues our humble, dubious case in the halls of eternal record.
In general the churches ... bore for me the same relation to God that billboards did to Coca-Cola: they promoted thirst without quenching it.
Writing criticism is to writing fiction and poetry as hugging the shore is to sailing in the open sea. No act is so private it does not seek applause.