March 18 marked what would have been John Updike’s 80th birthday. The enormously prolific author of several novels, short stories, poems, essays, criticism, and children's books – once described by The New York Times as "a literary decathlete ... almost blogger-like in his determination to turn every scrap of knowledge and experience into words" – Updike passed away in 2009. From his earliest autobiographical short stories and evocations of Olinger, Pa., to his later genre-exploding works of parody, metafiction, and pastiche, Updike was a self-professed chronicler of "middleness with all its grits, bumps, and anonymities." Serving as an index to the second half of the 20th century, Updike's canon, including "Couples" and the Pulitzer Prize-winning "Rabbit Angstrom" series, famously explored the complexities of sexuality, adultery, and religion. Below are 10 quotes to commemorate one of America's exceptional men of letters.
A leader is one who, out of madness or goodness, volunteers to take upon himself the woe of the people. There are few men so foolish; hence the erratic quality of leadership in the world. (The Coup)
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