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Rabbit Angstrom: A Tetralogy (Everyman's Library, No. 214) Hardcover – October 17, 1995

4.6 out of 5 stars 50 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

FROM THE INTRODUCTION BY THE AUTHOR written especially for this edition:
“The character of Harry 'Rabbit' Angstrom was for me a way in-a ticket to the America all around me … [These four related novels] became a kind of running report on the state of my hero and his nation . . . A some point between the second and third of the series, I began to visualize four completed novels that might together make a single coherent volume, a mega-novel. Now, thanks to Everyman's Library, this volume exists, titled, as I had long hoped, with the name of the protagonist, an everyman who, like all men, was unique and mortal.”

“Taken together, this quartet of novels has given its readers a wonderfully vivid portrait of one Harry (Rabbit) Angstrom . . . The books have also created a Kodachrome-sharp picture of American life . . . from the somnolent 50s . . . into the uncertainties of the 80s.”
—THE NEW YORK TIMES

“The being that most illuminates the Rabbit quartet is not finally Harry Angstrom himself but the world through which he moves in his slow downward slide, meticulously recorded by one of the most gifted American realists . . . The Rabbit novels, for all their grittiness, constitute John Updike's surpassingly eloquent valentine to his country.”
—Joyce Carol Oates, THE NEW YORK TIMES BOOK REVIEW

From the Inside Flap

Four works in one volume
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 1519 pages
  • Publisher: Everyman's Library; First Edition edition (October 17, 1995)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0679444599
  • ISBN-13: 978-0679444596
  • Product Dimensions: 5.3 x 2.2 x 8.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.8 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (50 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #64,625 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By S. GODFREY on February 23, 2001
Format: Hardcover
I read the first Rabbit book as a student in 1969...in common with many readers I grew up (or at least grew older) along with Harry Angstrom, going through the decades with him in Rabbit Redux, Rabbit is Rich and finally Rabbit at Rest. Like Rabbit I've done my fair share of running, of trying to cope with getting older, families, jobs, expectations and exasperations. In many ways he's not a likeable character, but I've always found him kind of comforting. Maybe it's just the thought of someone making a bigger mess of things than I've done. Nelson and Janice are the ones I feel upset for - they seem to me to be the real victims of Rabbit's genuine inability to be anything more than he is. Updike's writing is just masterful; whether dealing with potential or actual tragedy (small-scale, but tragedy no less) or just with the everyday ups and downs of this 20th Century everyman's life, he conjures up images so real they would surely be dimished by any movie that was made of these books. Each book is a landmark in itself; together in this collection they constitute one of the most important bodies of work in contemporary fiction. Even if that were not the case, I would still strongly recommend the Rabbit novels to anyone for the sheer enjoyment that comes from reading them.
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Format: Hardcover
I have to admit it: finishing this 1500 page tome, which consist of the four Harry (Rabbit) Angstrom novels, each longer than the one before it ("Rabbit Run," "Rabbit Redux," "Rabbit is Rich," and "Rabbit at Rest"), gave me a sense of accomplishment. Updike is a truly great writer, but his prose can be ponderous at times, particularly in "Rabbit Run." Some of these characters, including Rabbit himself, can be quite frustrating, especially over the course of four books.

Updike's placement as one of the greatest American writers of the last half of the twentieth century, stems from, I believe, his descriptive abilities, whether it be describing the flora in a garden, typical patter on a golf course, sexual scenes, or an angioplasty procedure. The books are spaced ten years apart in time, and Updike does a nice job setting each in the context of its time, although I'm not so sure these novels work as a "time capsule" in that the characters are only peripherally involved in, or concerned with, the seminal events of those eras. Most of the characters don't really change all that much, with the notable exception of Janice, Rabbit's wife, whose character blossoms with each consecutive book. Rabbit, himself, always remains sex and death obsessed, understandably more of the latter as he grows older. He does grow on the reader, though, even after making one poor choice after another. In "Rabbit at Rest," we finally see Rabbit have a relationship based on pure love: that with his grand-daughter Judy.

If you're interested, I reviewed each book separately on this web-site, giving "Rabbit Run" three stars, and the other three books four stars.
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Format: Hardcover
I am new to Updike, just finished the 4 Rabbit novels. I was astonished at the writing in these books. The ability to describe common scenes of ordinary life, the continual observations that ring true and make you nod your head while reading put John Updike above any other author I've read.

In my opinion, the best of the Rabbit novels are the first and last. Rabbit Redux was a letdown and the story was not very believable. A couple of things worth mentioning - these novels have a lot of profanity and a lot of explicit, even kinky sex scenes - adultery, swinging, it's all there. Some folks may be offended, despite the great writing.

One thing that took some getting used to - the author often makes very interesting, profound, humorous comments where it's not easily identifiable as coming from the author/narrator or the character. These observations/asides are what really makes the books so terrific. Rabbit himself is a pretty dull guy and it's Updike's genius that makes his story so compelling. There's a line toward the end of the last book that seems to sum up Rabbit as a man. This comment is obviously from the narrator: The smell of good advice always makes Rabbit want to run the other way.
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Format: Hardcover
You know how you get hooked on a TV show and can't stand the wait between episodes? You envy the folks who wait for the whole season to come out on DVD and then get to indulge in a viewing orgy. That's how I feel about those of you just getting introduced to Rabbit (Harry Angstrom) and the back to back pleasures that await you.

Your reading experience may be fundamentally different from mine though. We meet Rabbit in the first novel as a 26-year-old, and in each of the three sequels, published a decade apart, he ages "real time", i.e. about 10 years. So please excuse me for waxing a bit sentimental. Witnessing Rabbit's march through four decades as I made my own way through the same years, at the same pace, is part of what made those novels resonate so deeply and so intimately for me.

Even for the Rabbit newbie, the novels are still a must-read. Updike is as detailed and effective as an episode of "Mad Men" in transporting the reader to a place and time, and he can create characters so real they start making appearances in your dreams. He is at the top of his game in the Rabbit novels. By the last book you'll swear you have actually passed through Brewer PA, the fictional setting of the novels, and that you played golf with Harry just last week.

But Updike's writing is entirely void of sentimentality, and his observations are brutally unblinking. By the conclusion of Rabbit Run, Harry's foolishness has brought his life to the brink of collapse, but don't expect a story of personal growth and ultimate redemption - Updike would never be so trite. Harry is the same impulsive, narcissistic child running away from his problems in the 90's as he was in the 60's. But we as readers are changed.
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