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From the Archives: John Updike



It's hard to see John Updike's death as anything but the end of an era.  Since I prefered his reviews to his novels, I decided to double up on my New Yorker archives feature this week and find the first attributed occurance of Updike's work in that journal.  Lo and behold, it was in the January 26, 1957 issue and was simply entitled "Notes."  Here's the opening:

    "Acting swiflty on a banker's rumor, I recently invested in fifty-seven stanzas by John Berryman titled "Homage to Mistress Bradstreet" and eleven poems by Marianne Moore called, as a group, "Like a Bulwark;" it disturbed me to discover, in the back of both books, footnotes.  With the Soviet gymnasts triumphant and Halley's Comet not thirty years away, this is scarecly the time for poets to start toadying to readers.  It grated a bit when Richard Wilbur, in his latest book, noted that 'arete' is the transliteration of a Gree word 'meaning roughly virtue.' It seemd oninous when Ezra Pound, that hitherto incorruptible apostle of opacity, in his latest book obseqiously made it clear that 'Canto 85 is somewhat detailed confirmation of Kung's view that the basic principles of government are found in the Shu, the History Classic,'  But it marks the undoing of an era when a Cub Scout like Mr. Berryman feels obliged to take us by the elbow at every little turning of his transparent monody, e.g.:

12.5-13.2 The poet interrupts.
24.1 Her irony of 22.8 intensifies.
29.5,6  After Klee."

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