By John Updike
During this selection of nonfiction items, John Updike gathers his responses to almost 200 invites into print, every one “an chance to make anything attractive, to discover inside oneself a treasure that might differently stay buried.” Introductions, experiences, and funny essays, paragraphs on manhattan, faith, and lust—here is “more matter” commissioned by means of an age that, because the writer comments in his Preface, demands “real stuff . . . no longer for the obliquities and tenuosities of fiction.” nonetheless, the novelist’s shaping hand, his reward for telling aspect, could be detected in lots of of those literary issues. Books via Edith Wharton, sunrise Powell, John Cheever, and Vladimir Nabokov are incisively handled, as are biographies of Isaac Newton, Abraham Lincoln, Queen Elizabeth II, and Helen Keller. As George Steiner saw, Updike writes with a “solicitous, virtually gentle intelligence. The critic and the poet in him . . . are at no odds with the novelist; an analogous sharpness of apprehension bears at the item in every one of Updike’s modes.”
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Additional resources for More Matter: Essays and Criticism
One interesting aspect of this phonetically dominated composition of words is its similarity to the sounds of a foreign language. The accumulation of the consonants r and h, the repetition of vowels, and the introduction of some exotic words, such as "myrrah," "han," "arabistan," créate the impression that the poet is actually rendering an Arabic language. The use of this technique of rendering foreign languages by means of trans-rational poetry was a widespread tendency among the Russian Cubo-Futurists.
The same interest in derivatives was also characteristic of Futurist poetry in Poland. The majority of neologisms invented by Aleksander Wat or Anatol Stern are derivatives from a common root. In Wat's "The Lives," for instance, there are many derivatives from the root pión: i kosujka ptonac tak i píomyki píomieñ rozptonecznionych bezptoni^c doplonac, dopton^c, ptonacze i ptonaczki sptonacy ptomieñczarze biatouscie! daj biaíousciech! 21 17 Julián Tuwim, Slopiewnie (Poznañ, 1935). 18 The concept of "disautomatization" was developed by Víctor Shklovskii in his "Iskusstvo kak priem," Poetika (Petrograd, 1919).
A similar semantic relationship characterizes rhymes in "To the Futurists," in which "rokoko" (rococó) and "poetycznosci" (poetic) from the lexicón of art are contrasted with the medical term "gonokok" (gonococcus) and with the harsh neologism "wkrosci" (to pimple). Even rhymes based on tautology reveal subtle semantic differences. In "Marching" the word "krew" (blood) appears four times in a rhyming position, and each time its meaning varíes, depending on the context: Co? .. Co? Lezy ... Krew ...