The Quiet American

Ivy-Style mourns the passing of John Updike, who died Tuesday at 76. While his status as a Great American Novelist is well known, his role as an icon of sartorial understatement is not. And so we present this homage to a master not only of English literature, but of dressing with quiet flair. Our tweed bucket hats are off to you, John:

At home in Connecticut. Older face, same relaxed attitude:

Timeless prose, timeless style:

The well aged man of letters. He’s smirking because he knows something you don’t. He also knows how to wear tweed and a turtleneck:

Farewell. You will not be forgotten:

Updike tributes in the media are plentiful. MediaBistro.com provided the following selection:

John Updike died yesterday. The 76-year-old novelist wrote more than 50 books, including his Pulitzer Prize-winning novels, Rabbit is Rich (1981) and Rabbit at Rest (1990). In addition, he won the American Book Award, and the National Book Critics Circle Award for his work. NYT: The detail of his writing was so rich that it inspired two schools of thought on Updike’s fiction: those who responded to his descriptive prose as to a kind of poetry, a sensuous engagement with the world, and those who argued that it was more style than content. C-SPAN: Video interview with Updike from 2005. New Yorker: Audio interview with Updike from 2005, plus memories from John Cheever, Julian Barnes, and others. Guardian: Updike conjured up more than 50 books and explored virtually every form open to him. NYT: Updike gave “the mundane its beautiful due,” as he once put it, memorializing the everyday mysteries of love and faith and domesticity with extraordinary nuance and precision, writes Michiko Kakutani. WaPo: Updike’s lyricism exalted the everyday and the unglamorous, writes Henry Allen. CSM: Updike was an interpreter of the way that the tender and the tortured intertwine in domestic relationships, writes Marjorie Kehe. Slate: Troy Patterson on the best of Updike, the worst of Updike, and why the two are connected.

— ZD & CC

Image four from Alfred A. Knopf via the New York Times

5 Comments on "The Quiet American"

  1. John Updike possessed a truly beautiful mind; he didn’t just write well, he wrote wisely

  2. I never caught on to Updike. I never got it. There was something entirely conventional, and even boring, about his books, IMO. I was and remain more of a Cheever man myself. These pics here make him look sloppy.

    Troy Patterson on the best of Updike, the worst of Updike, and why the two are connected. Yeah, dumbass, they were written by the same guy.

  3. I read Rabbit Run in college and was iimmediately drawn to both his prose style and his vision. Updike’s writing was suffused with an almost religious luminesence, even when describing actions that bordered on the brutal as in the short story, “Pigeon Feathers,” where the protagonist takles ontological questions as he follows his grandmother’s order that he shoot all the pigeons roosting in the barn. It has been suggested that, taken as a whole, the Rabbit books may, taken in toto, constitute the long-sought, elusive Great American Novel. I must admit I was probably the only person in my literature class who was enthusiastic about Rabbit, Run. Most found his attention to detail merely tedious and his mmelancholy protagonist depressing. But to me his books were wise, beautifully-crafted things of beauty. They were also quite funny. I also admired the way he dressed. he looked like a writer should look, understated, classic, and just a little rumpled. Like Laguna Beach Trad above I also loved John Cheever, although he never quite mastered the novel form the way Updike did.

  4. Updike was a stooge.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published.

*