Download John Updike's Human Comedy (Modern American Literature) by Brian Keener PDF

By Brian Keener

The comedy in John Updike's most vital works--The Centaur; Rabbit, Run; Rabbit Redux; Rabbit Is wealthy; Rabbit at relaxation; and Rabbit Remembered--defines a comic book international and its morality. even if critics have didn't realize the level and the significance of Updike's comedy, his severe fiction does comprise a good buy of farce, burlesque, and irony that, faraway from being peripheral or mere comedian reduction, depicts the absurd and contradictory nature of lifestyles. inside this type of global, set within the daily Pennsylvania of the second one half the 20 th century, humans mature, or achieve Kierkegaard's moral sphere, via gratifying their societal and generational duties. George Caldwell of The Centaur is Updike's paragon, whereas Rabbit Angstrom embodies the comedian hero who, via trial and blunder, eventually matures. total, via an research of Updike's comedy, this e-book unearths a measurement of his fiction that's necessary to realizing his paintings.

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When Peter recognizes with horror, “I’m killing my father” (193), he is expressing not only his subconscious oedipal feelings, but also the reality that the younger generation inevitably supplants the older. Yet, comedy sustains hope. At the conclusion of the dream-like Chapter Six, Peter informs his father that he has gained hope “From you” (144). When Caldwell is dubious, Peter musters the courage to imagine a Kierkegaardian “leap of faith”: “I closed my eyes; between the voiceless ‘I’ inside my head and the trembling plane of darkness also there, there was a gap, of indeterminate distance but certainly not more than an inch.

A comic discussion between March and Caldwell illustrates the distinction between the meticulous man and the comic hero. When, during a basketball game, the despairing Caldwell urgently seeks the minister’s counsel, March is appalled by “this preposterous interruption” of his flirtation with Vera. Irked, March attempts to flee “this tall tousled maniac” (189). ’ he shouts. ‘A basketball game is no place to discuss such matters’ ” (189). Caldwell’s burlesque, however, exposes March. Soon, the minister terminates 32 | John Updike’s Human Comedy the interview: “He firmly restores his attention to Vera, presenting to Caldwell a profile as handsome and final as if stamped onto an imperial coin” (189).

It was good. We moved, somehow, on a firm stage, resonant with metaphor. [. ] Yes. We lived in God’s sight” (57). Galligan, citing Lynch, elaborates on the significance of playfulness: Absorption in the concrete and trust in the generative finite lead directly to full, innocent acceptance of the present moment, which is the essence of play. Hostility toward the univocal and celebration of the analogical mind and imagination compel one to respect witty, playful ways of thinking. Above all, an argument that the course of comedy is a descent below all the categories to rock-bottom reality, “which is profoundly and funnily unbreakable” is an argument that comedy is a call to play, an imitation to dance.

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