by John Updike


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John Updike’s memoirs consist of six Emersonian essays that together trace the inner shape of the life, up to the age of fifty-five, of a relatively fortunate American male. The author has attempted, his foreword states, “to treat this life, this massive datum which happens to be mine, as a specimen life, representative in its odd uniqueness of all the oddly unique lives in this world.” In the service of this metaphysical effort, he has been hair-raisingly honest, matchlessly precise, and self-effacingly humorous. He takes the reader beyond self-consciousness, and beyond self-importance, into sheer wonder at the miracle of existence.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780812982961
Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
Publication date: 03/13/2012
Pages: 272
Sales rank: 607,245
Product dimensions: 5.40(w) x 8.20(h) x 0.80(d)

About the Author

John Updike was born in Shillington, Pennsylvania, in 1932. He graduated from Harvard College in 1954 and spent a year in Oxford, England, at the Ruskin School of Drawing and Fine Art. From 1955 to 1957 he was a member of the staff of The New Yorker. His novels have won the Pulitzer Prize, the National Book Award, the National Book Critics Circle Award, the Rosenthal Foundation Award, and the William Dean Howells Medal. In 2007 he received the Gold Medal for Fiction from the American Academy of Arts and Letters. John Updike died in January 2009.

Date of Birth:

March 18, 1932

Date of Death:

January 27, 2009

Place of Birth:

Shillington, Pennsylvania

Place of Death:

Beverly Farms, MA


A.B. in English, Harvard University, 1954; also studied at the Ruskin School of Drawing and Fine Art in Oxford, England

Read an Excerpt

i. A Soft Spring Night in Shillington

Excerpted from "Self-Consciousness"
by .
Copyright © 2012 John Updike.
Excerpted by permission of Random House Publishing Group.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

What People are Saying About This

Christopher Lehmann-Haupt

. . .one persists in approaching memoirs like Self-Consciousness wondering what more there is for the author to say. Not surprisingly, considering Mr. Updike's prolific articulateness, there is a great deal more. . . .Yet at the end of Self-Consciousness, none of Mr. Updike's puzzles are solved.. . . you sense that for him the only verity remains what it always has been: writing is all. -- The New York Times

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Self-Consciousness 3.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 2 reviews.
jwhenderson on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
John Updike wrote a lot of fiction over several decades so he should know a little bit about it when he says he believes that ''most of the best fiction is written out of early impressions, taken in before the writer became conscious of himself as a writer,''. He begins by going to the source of his own early impressions and in this book subtitled "memoirs" he includes six vignette-like essays about his life. The first chapter is familiar to readers of his short stories since in ''A Soft Spring Night in Shillington'' - the first of the six essays - he returns in 1980 to the town in southeastern Pennsylvania where he spent his earliest childhood, and discovers, walking through its streets, that the past cannot after all be recaptured. ''Shillington, its idle alleys and darkened foursquare houses, had been my idea.'' The idea had been stronger than the reality. It is a fascinating journey made more so by my own recognition that my home town is in many ways unrecognizable to me as well. He continues to cover those episodes that had a major impact on his consciousness (thus the title) over the years. For those readers who enjoy Updike's beautiful prose this memoir provides a pleasant journey.
smurfwreck on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
My 2 cents: I read this mainly to see how he dealt with his psoriasis, and I have to say it was illuminating int hat respect.