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Self-Consciousness Mass Market Paperback


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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: 6.9 x 4.2 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,132,268 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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.

From Library Journal

This work by Updike is not an autobiography; that is, it is not a chronicle of events that have made up the author's life. Rather, as the subtitle states, it is a collection of memoirs, of memories. Updike is smart enough to know that though memory is not always accurate, it is still the essential element in a consciousness of self. Here Updike's consciousness frequently focuses on his struggles--with psoriasis, with stuttering, with dental problems, with his lack of doveishness during the Vietnam era. Readers will recognize in these memories scenes and snippets from his novels, fragments of which are provided. As always, Updike is an intelligent writer, and this book is essential.
- John Budd, Graduate Lib. Sch., Univ. of Arizona, Tucson
Copyright 1989 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

More About the Author

John Updike was born in 1932, in Shillington, Pennsylvania. 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, and since 1957 lived in Massachusetts. He was the father of four children and the author of more than fifty books, including collections of short stories, poems, essays, and criticism. His novels won the Pulitzer Prize (twice), the National Book Award, the National Book Critics Circle Award, the Rosenthal Award, and the Howells Medal. A previous collection of essays, Hugging the Shore, received the 1983 National Book Critics Circle Award for criticism. John Updike died on January 27, 2009, at the age of 76.

Customer Reviews

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See all 18 customer reviews
The final chapter of the book is, for me, the best.
Oliver Kamm
The essay titled "Getting the Words Out" was especially well done.
Joshua Hackler
It's a very touching, personal, well written diary, really.
Kathryn M.

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

22 of 22 people found the following review helpful By J. Farrell on March 27, 2004
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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22 of 23 people found the following review helpful 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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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful 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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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on May 17, 1996
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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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By W. Jamison VINE VOICE on February 8, 2009
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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