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اثر جان آپدایک از انتشارات ققنوس - مترجم: سهیل سمی-ادبیات کلاسیک

جان هویر آپدایک در تمام آثارش، به‌خصوص چهارگانه‌ی خرگوش، به مضمون رنج‌ کشیدن و تنها ماندن شخصیت اصلی‌اش در برابر ارزش‌های کذایی زندگی عامه می‌پردازد. هری آنگستروم، ملقب به خرگوش، موجود همیشه فراری و گریزان، از مفهوم واقع‌گرایانه عشق در کانون خانواده‌اش و در اجتماع دلزده و سرخورده می‌شود. مثل پرومتئوس اساطیر یونان سر به شورش برمی‌دارد، اما شورش بی‌پشتوانه، فرجامی چون فرجام سیزیف دارد، «هری» شورش می‌کند و شکست می‌خورد و می‌گریزد، اما در پایان راه به بلوغ می‌رسد، یعنی تسلیم می‌شود، اما تسلیم نه به معنای حقیرانه آن، بلکه به معنای ترک عصیان و جستجوی ارزش‌هایی دیگرگونه که بتوان با تکیه بر آن‌ها برای واژه‌هایی چون عشق، ایثار، ارزش و زندگی مفاهیمی دیگر گونه کشف کرد.


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Since the first time I read this book years ago, I bet I havent gone 24 hours without thinking about it in some way. Its not my favorite book in the series, but its the emotionally rawest thing Ive ever read. A recurring image in the book is that of things spilling over, appropriate for a novel in which the title characters frustration with his life can no longer be contained. Updike chronicles the caustic results caused by Rabbits inner restlessness that surfaces, then boils over, when he realizes that hes wasted his life preparing for a present and future that are in no way remarkable. Its a book about the pendulum swinging wildly between mindless comformity and selfish individualism, destroying everything in its path.

مشاهده لینک اصلی
I confess I havent read much of John Updikes work. About thirty years ago I flipped through @Couples@ for the prurient interest it sparked at its publication. I laughed through @The Witches of Eastwick@--the movie, not the book. But I never read any of Updikes Rabbit Angstrom novels. My well read neighbor who is also a former professor of psychology who taught me History and Systems of Psychology recently told me I had missed out on some fine writing by neglecting Updike, particularly the Rabbit series.

So, since my friend and former teacher, has never steered me wrong on a book recommendation, I picked up @Rabbit, Run@ and began to read it. As he usually is, my former professor is right. Ive missed out on some fine writing, a matter that I will rectify by reading the rest of the Rabbit Quartet.

Harry @Rabbit@ Angstrom did one thing well. He was a star basketball player in high school. Rabbit set records on the court. But those days are over. Now he demonstrates a vegetable peeler in five and dimes around his home town in Brewer, Pennsylvania. Updike introduces the reader to Rabbit Angstrom walking home from the job he hates to his wife, Janice. He will be late getting home. Angstrom comes across a group of kids playing basketball at a hoop mounted on a telephone pole. For a short time Angstrom becomes the star he once was. Updikes rendering of this scene is magical, his prose creating Rabbits movements on the street court pure, simple, and full of a rhythm that urges the reader to speak the words to hear the lyricism of them.

The end of the game draws Rabbit back into the reality of the life he does not love. He walks to his apartment to find Janice drunk. Their child is not there. Neither is his car. Janice has spent the day with her mother and left their car at her parents house. Nelson, their son, is at Rabbits parents home. The woman who had won Rabbits love during long afternoons on the bed of a friends apartment is not as pretty as she was on those sun filled afternoons. Now her skin is sallow. Her body has lost its suppleness in Rabbits eyes. When he leaves to get his car and his son, Rabbit decides he has lost himself. He walks to retrieve his car and drives silently away from his in-laws home. Rabbit imagines driving through the night to end up somewhere on the gulf of Mexico looking up into a perfect sky filled with brilliant stars.

Rabbits getaway is unsuccessful. Driving into the hills of West Virginia, he ends lost on top of a mountain lovers lane and wearily drives home, but not to his wife. Instead he seeks out his old basketball coach and asks to stay with him for a few days. His coach berates him for his immaturity but puts him up. Then, with complete inconsistency, his coach takes Rabbit with him to a date with a woman he stakes to a meal from time to time. His lady friend will bring a friend along for Rabbit, too. Rabbits date lives in an apartment of her own, but tells him she does nothing for a living. He quickly offers to help her out with her utilities and within a day has wrangled his way into a new home, leaving his wife and son.

If there is one thing that Rabbit loves more than the exhilaration of his glorious moments on the basketball court it is sex, though he justifies his lust by insisting that it is love. Written in 1960, @Rabbit, Run@ is a frank portrayal of male sexuality, predatory, manipulative and selfish.

Updike introduces the Episcopalian Priest, Jack Eccles, as Rabbits conscience. Eccles will make it his mission to reunite Rabbit and Janice. An unobservant innocent, Eccles cannot see that Rabbit even sees the Reverends wife as another woman who recognizes him as a man who loves women. The sexual tension between Rabbit and the ministers wife is palpable, whether it is real or only in Rabbits egocentric imagination.

Rabbits life is a train wreck waiting to happen. Tragedy is inevitable. John Updikes Rabbit Angstrom is the perfect portrayal of a man at odds with himself and the world in which he lives. Rabbit runs from responsibility but he is incapable of escaping it. John Updike created an excruciatingly moving novel capturing the sense of post-modern dissatisfaction and self absorption. It is a small wonder that Updikes four volumes detailing the life of Rabbit Angstrom appear on the New York Times twenty five item list of the most influential literary works of the twentieth century.

مشاهده لینک اصلی
Rabbit is one of the most reprehensible characters in literature. Updike is a great writer, and knew what he was doing when he created this jerk. So just what was Updike up to? Im not totally sure, since Im still chewing over this. Ive seen a lot of comments about Rabbit being some sort of Everyman. I dont see that at all. This guy is as worthless as it gets. Hes nearly the complete shit package, though hes oddly fastidious when it comes to smoking and drinking. Maybe Updike did that to underscore what a moral monster this guy is. No alcoholic excuse. What is interesting is that a number of people close to Rabbit keep forgiving him. He even marvels at it. Perhaps the book is about forgiveness, as in 70 x 7. Rabbit needs all of it.

One aspect of this book that Ive noticed to be largely ignored is the religious element. I came to @Rabbit, Run@ largely looking for some sort time capsule novel. I knew there were several novels, and that Rabbits arc would follow a big chunk of time that I happened to have lived through. Other than that, I knew little of Updike. It turns out that this particular novel was written right after Updike had suffered through a crisis of faith. Among his antidotes was Karl Barths @To the Romans. @ Theologically, thats about as heavy as it gets. And Updike brings this conflict to the novel. In one of the key scenes (and one where Rabbit is not present), the Episcopal priest, Eccles, a touchy feely type tries to consult Rabbits Lutheran pastor, Kruppenbach (a Barth man @rigid in his creed@) about their bad boy. Kruppenbach, after informing Eccles that Rabbit is a @Schussel@ (scatterbrain), and that he has little use for Eccles ministerial approach. In fact, Kruppenbach tells Eccles that such ministering is not their role. They are not social workers, but witnesses to Christ:

@When on Sunday morning then, when we go before their faces, we must walk up not worn out with misery but full of Christ, hot@ -- he clenches his hairy fists -- @with Christ, on fire: burn them the force of our belief. That is why they come; why else would they pay us? Anything else we can do or say anyone can do or say. They have doctors and lawyers for that. Its all in the Book -- a thief with faith is worth all the Pharisees. Make no mistake. Now Im serious. Make no mistake. There is nothing but Christ for us. All the rest, all this decency and busyness, is nothing. It is the Devils work.

After this remarkable speech, Eccles leaves in anger, but also grudgingly admitting to himself that Kruppenbach is right (though he must not have been listening too closely when the Lutheran pastor accurately characterized Rabbit). Being @scatterbrained@ however is no excuse. Rabbit can be quite cruel, and his jaw dropping selfishness eventually leads to tragedy. Weirdly, early on you see that Rabbit is a believer, but he can never do anything with his faith (as with everything else). And for me thats where the novel didnt click. Im not going to say Updike failed in what he was trying to achieve. Hes simply too good a writer. But seeing a character fail and fail again, without ever gaining any traction, just gets to be a sucky reading trip that I dont want to revisit at 10 year intervals in the upcoming Rabbit novels. Like Rabbit, Id feel like a dog returning to his vomit. Thats too circular for too long for me.



مشاهده لینک اصلی
Rabbit Angstrom is appropriately named. For one thing, he’s a bit of a hare-brain. But it’s more about how he flits from one matter to another, twitching his nose a few times at something or someone (often a sex partner/object) before moving on to his next passing fancy. At times he’s capable of reflection, though he’s typically at a loss for how forces he misperceives to be random dictate his circumstances. Construing his psyche, he has a rabbit’s concept of the super-ego, i.e., very little. I figure he’s about 98% id.

You might assume, based on my impatience with the man for taking so little ownership of his fate, that I’d be down on the book. That’s not entirely so. Rabbit did have insights, some even subtle, and his emotions rang true even when he did so little to steer clear of the bad ones. And to be fair, that Updike guy can write some.

Since this was the first of the Rabbit books, and both Updike and his protagonist were young at the time (in their 20’s), I’ll be curious to see how they mature as the series progresses. The latter ones are trumpeted as important parts of the middle-aged cock-of-the-walk canon, so I’ll probably give at least one of them a try. Maybe the angst part of Rabbit’s name reaches crisis proportions in those later mid-life works. I’m going to guess that conflict is de rigueur with ol’ Rabbit given the lowdown from book one on how heedless he is when he runs.


مشاهده لینک اصلی
This book reinforces the negative stereotype of human males as being selfish sex-crazed narcissists who possess no feelings of empathy or loyalty for their female companions. The main character demonstrates the ultimate in immaturity and lack of responsible behavior. The women in the story show plenty of immaturity also, but since Im male Ill remain politically correct and confine myself to criticism of the male behavior. Since the book follows a guy who is preoccupied with sex it follows that it is filled with descriptions of sexual encounters that are way too explicit for me.

So is there any social redeeming value to this book? John Updike certainly has a way with words. (See quotation below.) I suspect that the story being told is actually a pretty realistic description of the lives of some people. The story contains a tragedy near the end that adds some poignancy to the plot and provides sufficient heft to the novel to allow it to be called a classic literary novel. Overall this book is a portrait of a young man running away from any personal relationship that might require some responsibility and loyalty on his part. Therefore, the nickname Rabbit is an appropriately descriptive tag for this character.

The following is an example of John Updikes writing where he describes a vivid picture using less than the proverbial thousand words:
@A woman once of some height, she is bent small, and the lingering strands of black look dirty in her white hair. She carries a cane, but in forgetfulness, perhaps, hangs it over her forearm and totters along with it dangling loose like an outlandish bracelet. Her method of gripping her gardener is this: he crooks his right arm, pointing his elbow toward her shoulder, and she shakily brings her left forearm up within his and bears down heavily on his wrist with her lumpish freckled fingers. Her hold is like that of a vine to a wall; one good pull will destroy it, but otherwise it will survive all weathers.@
One curious observation about the character Rabbit is that he doesnt smoke or drink, at least not very much. I usually assume anybody with such blatant lack of integrity to be a chain smoking alcoholic. John Updike provides a believable exception to that sort of stereotype.

The following is from the 2007 PageADay Book Lovers Calendar:
YOU’VE NEVER READ JOHN UPDIKE?
The story of Harry “Rabbit” Angstrom is a towering classic of contemporary literature. Rabbit is a former high school basketball star who, at 26, looks around at his ordinary life and wonders where the glory went. Rabbit, Run recounts his search to recapture it. Updike’s Rabbit Chronicles (Rabbit, Run; Rabbit Redux ; Rabbit is Rich; and Rabbit at Rest), published between 1960 and 1990, read like a slice of American social history.
RABBIT, RUN, by John Updike (1960; Ballantine Books, 1996)

The following is from the November 6, 2015 PageADay Book Lovers Calendar:
The first of Updikes brilliant Rabbit series is the best, but all four are worth reading. Harry Angstrom is a former star high school basketball player, nicknamed @Rabbit@ for his speed on the court. At 26, his glory days are over. He now works as a used-car salesman and is married to Janice, who has a drinking problem; they have a three-year-old son, and she is pregnant again. Rabbit has an affair, seeking to escape the boring routine that he has settled into. Updikes poignant look at a young man whose life has taken an unforeseen turn is a classic.
RABBIT, RUN, by John Updike (1960; Random House Trade Paperbacks, 1996)

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