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 :: 1932-, American Novelist, Critic

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I would rather have as my patron a host of anonymous citizens digging into their own pockets for the price of a book or a magazine than a small body of enlightened and responsible men administering public funds. I would rather chance my personal vision of truth striking home here and there in the chaos of publication that exists than attempt to filter it through a few sets of official, honorably public-spirited scruples.
~ John Updike - [Patronage]

 

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If men do not keep on speaking terms with children, they cease to be men, and become merely machines for eating and for earning money.
~ John Updike - [Children]

 

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In asking forgiveness of women for our mythologizing of their bodies, for being unreal about them, we can only appeal to their own sexuality, which is different but not basically different, perhaps, from our own. For women, too, there seems to be that tangle of supplication and possessiveness, that descent toward infantile undifferentiation, that omnipotent helplessness, that merger with the cosmic mother-warmth, that flushed pulse-quickened leap into overestimation, projection, general mix-up.
~ John Updike - [Sexuality]

 

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It is not difficult to deceive the first time, for the deceived possesses no antibodies; unvaccinated by suspicion, she overlooks lateness, accepts absurd excuses, permits the flimsiest patching to repair great rents in the quotidian.
~ John Updike - [Adultery]

 

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It rots a writer's brain, it cretinises you. You say the same thing again and again, and when you do that happily you're well on the way to being a cretin. Or a politician.
~ John Updike - [Interviews]

 

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Looking foolish does the spirit good. The need not to look foolish is one of youth's many burdens; as we get older we are exempted from more and more, and float upward in our heedlessness, singing Gratia Dei sum quod sum.
~ John Updike - [Fools and Foolishness]

 

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Now that I am sixty, I see why the idea of elder wisdom has passed from currency.
~ John Updike - [Age and Aging]

 

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Our brains are no longer conditioned for reverence and awe. We cannot imagine a Second Coming that would not be cut down to size by the televised evening news, or a Last Judgment not subject to pages of holier-than-thou second-guessing in The New York Review of Books.
~ John Updike - [Christians and Christianity]

 

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Perfectionism is the enemy of creation, as extreme self-solitude is the enemy of well-being.
~ John Updike - [Perfection]

 

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Rain is grace; rain is the sky condescending to the earth; without rain, there would be no life.
~ John Updike - [Rain]

 

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Religion enables us to ignore nothingness and get on with the jobs of life.
~ John Updike - [Religion]

 

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School is where you go between when your parents can't take you, and industry can't take you.
~ John Updike - [Education]

 

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Sex is like money; only too much is enough.
~ John Updike - [Sex]

 

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That a marriage ends is less than ideal; but all things end under heaven, and if temporality is held to be invalidating, then nothing real succeeds.
~ John Updike - [Marriage]

 

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The essential self is innocent, and when it tastes its own innocence knows that it lives for ever.
~ John Updike - [Innocence]

 

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The guarantee that our self enjoys an intended relation to the outer world is most, if not all, we ask from religion. God is the self projected onto reality by our natural and necessary optimism. He is the not-me personified.
~ John Updike - [God]

 

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To be President of the United States, sir, is to act as advocate for a blind, venomous, and ungrateful client; still, one must make the best of the case, for the purposes of Providence.
~ John Updike - [President]

 

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To say that war is madness is like saying that sex is madness: true enough, from the standpoint of a stateless eunuch, but merely a provocative epigram for those who must make their arrangements in the world as given.
~ John Updike - [War]

 

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What more fiendish proof of cosmic irresponsibility than a Nature which, having invented sex as a way to mix genes, then permits to arise, amid all its perfumed and hypnotic inducements to mate, a tireless tribe of spirochetes and viruses that torture and kill us for following orders?
~ John Updike - [Sex]

 

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When we try in good faith to believe in materialism, in the exclusive reality of the physical, we are asking our selves to step aside; we are disavowing the very realm where we exist and where all things precious are kept -- the realm of emotion and conscience, of memory and intention and sensation.
~ John Updike - [Materialism]

 

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