Americana and Other Poems by John Updike

By John Updike

John Updike's first number of verse in view that his Collected Poems, 1953-1993 brings jointly fifty-eight poems, 3 of them of substantial length.

The 4 sections absorb, so as: the US, its towns and airplanes; the poet's lifestyles, his formative years, birthdays, and diseases; overseas go back and forth, to Europe and the tropics; and, starting with the lengthy "Song of Myself," way of life, its furnishings and consolations.

There is little of the sunshine verse with which Mr. Updike started his writing profession approximately fifty years in the past, yet a gentle contact could be felt in his nimble manipulation of the ghosts of metric order, in his caressing of the residing textures of items, and in his reluctance to wave see you later to all of it.

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Whereas To a God Unknown was something of a failure financially and artistically, Steinbeck would score a ringing success with his next novel. Tortilla Flat (1935) was a best seller that met with glowing reviews. The New York Herald Tribune declared, “John Steinbeck is a born writing man, and Tortilla Flat a book to cherish” (34). The Saturday Review sounded a similar note, saying, “The flavor of this book is something new; the setting and the people carry thorough conviction; and the extraordinary humors of these curiously childlike natives are presented with a masterly touch” (35).

Yet, cast in such a position, he was prepared to speak strongly and passionately about the true purposes of his profession: It is customary for the recipient of this award to offer personal or scholarly comment on the nature and the direction of literature. At this particular time, however, I think it would be well to consider the high duties and the responsibilities of the makers of literature. Such is the prestige of the Nobel award and of this place where I stand that I am impelled, not to squeak like a grateful and apologetic mouse, but to roar like a lion out of pride in my profession and in the great and good men who have practiced it through the ages.

Steinbeck published his articles but also saw that he had the materials for what could be a great and important novel. He wrote The Grapes of Wrath in 1938 during six months of tremendous concentration, producing what has always been regarded as his masterpiece. The book was an instant success when it was published in March 1939, and it stayed on the top of the New York Times best-seller list throughout 1939 and into 1940. In the more than seventy years since, The Grapes of Wrath has never gone out of print and has been translated into dozens of languages.

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