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Self-Consciousness Mass Market Paperback – May 28, 1990

4.2 out of 5 stars 28 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

"Updike's memoir--it is by no means an autobiography, but rather, as the title brilliantly suggests, a thoughtful communing with past selves--is, as expected, wonderfully written. It is also disarmingly frank about certain aspects of the writer's life," maintained PW. Updike discusses his psoriasis and stuttering, his parents and failures as husband and father, his politics, the ways in which God permeates his life, and his profound commitment to writing.
Copyright 1990 Reed Business Information, Inc.

Review

"Fascinating...These memoirs, often unabashedly philosophical, take us inside Updike's mind in the way that biography almost never can ....Self-Consciousness is fresh assurance that Updike continues to work his magic on the page."

Chicago Tribune



"Nobody writes better about anything than Updike."

The Washington Post
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Product Details

  • Mass Market Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Fawcett (May 28, 1990)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 044921821X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0449218211
  • Product Dimensions: 4.2 x 0.6 x 7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (28 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #883,898 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Oliver Kamm on August 23, 2001
Format: Mass Market Paperback
John Updike is arguably, with Saul Bellow, the greatest of living authors writing in English. This volume exemplifies his strengths. His evocation of growing up in middle-America is often quite beautiful. Yet this book is not a memoir in the conventional sense of a chronological account, but more of series of scenes and reflections from a full and satisfying life. Updike's moving account of his struggle with psoriasis and his marital difficulties is personal without degenerating into the narcissism of so much second-rate autobiography, even if he pays slightly more attention to his rakish period in the 1970s than we might strictly wish to know.
Updike writes poignantly but with resolution of his lonely status as a liberal writer in the 1960s who did not lose his ideals as a liberal Democrat, in the traditional sense of that term, and thus who abjured the descent into extremism and anti-anti-Communism of many of his contemporaries. To have believed that the Vietnam War was imprudent and prosecuted by morally dubious means, yet known the noble cause that was at stake in it - namely, preventing a country from falling to a ferocious Communist tyranny - won Updike few friends and lost him many, yet his stance was an honourable and principled one.
The final chapter of the book is, for me, the best. Updike writes particularly well of his liberal religious faith, which almost amounts to fideism. One can admire his honest wrestling with such questions without sharing his conclusions, and admire even more the quality of writing and personal reflection here expressed.
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
This is a beautiful book. From its extraordinary opening, as Updike returns to his childhood home, to its lucid and moving discourse "On Being a Self Forever," this book stands as one of Updike's most brilliant achievements. The memoir is structured, not as a chronological narrative of his life, but as a series of meditations on phases of his experience where Updike's search for the core of his own identity keeps criss-crossing with his search for a settled sense of meaning in the modern world. The writing is subtle, ironic, self-deprecating, utterly honest and luminous. The book itself is best seen, I think, as a worthy successor to a long line of works beginning, perhaps,with Wordsworth's The Prelude while it echoes the confessional voices of Augustine, on the one hand, and Robert Lowell on the other.
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
If you like John Updike, and want to know more about
the author behind the characters, this thoughtful
auto-biography will offer you much insight into this
outstanding American author. He goes back to visit
Shillington, PA and thinks about his childhood and youth,
his parents, and the town that seems to have more impact
on his personality than subsequent experiences at Harvard,
the New Yorker, first or second marriage or fatherhood.
His contemplative eye was developed here, and he retains
much of the bemused observer of the boy growing up in small
town America around the time of WW2. Outstanding book,
non-fiction, but filled with Updike prose and thoughfulness.
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By A Customer on September 16, 1997
Format: Mass Market Paperback
For those who have always wanted to befriend an author who has brought them much joy, this book is a must. John Updike as honest as a friend can be climbs out of the pages of this book and I feel I know him. Who else would share back seat of car stories with you? Only a friend
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
On the passing away of JU it occurred to me to read something of his to fix the memory of him and chose this book because of its autobiographical nature. The sort of books I would normally read with such a title would be about what Consciousness is and Self-Consciousness in particular, but this is JU's thoughts on his own self-consciousness - a very different sort of thing. The chapter "On Being a Self Forever" comes closest to what I would normally expect. But in chapter one the walk that night in Shillington eerily reminds me much of my similar experiences in West Chester. Even the street names are similar, though of course that was, for me, a college town, not where I grew up. In some of his comments in chapter two it strikes me how recent events in a near by community - Coatesville - there has been a string of arson fires destroying whole blocks of the town. Perhaps not the same reason as JU gives for the one he describes (p 65) but I am suspicious. In the chapter "On Not Being a Dove" I enjoyed the description of things associated with Unitarians. His father in law's statement that "our human need for transcendence should be met with minimal embarrassments to reason" (p 132) is precious. Love the Robin Williams quote "If you remember the Sixties you weren't there." (p 148) I suppose I should read Kurt Vonnegut's "Galapagos". "The yearning for an afterlife is the opposite of selfish: it is love and praise for the world that we are privileged, in this complex interval of light, to witness and experience." (p 217) I may get to use that line someday. It strikes me that his point of view is very contemporary on this. Not Medieval at all. Not Buddhist either. Quoting Unamuno "Consciousness is a disease.Read more ›
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