This morning I finished the last book of the Rabbit quartet by John Updike. Of course, there’s that final, final Rabbit book, “Rabbit Remembered” as a novella Updike threw in after the series, not able to let go of the Rabbit idea I guess.
How that guy, John Updike, could write so apparently effortlessly, on and on, amazes me. What an imagination and talent he most certainly had. But what do I really think of Harry “Rabbit” Angstrom?
I do a lot of identification with the character, even though I’ve been sexually innocent compared to him, except perhaps in the mind. The other half of Rabbit’s compulsion, the death part, as contrasted with the sex part, I do bond with pretty much I think. An overriding concern of mine has been the meaning of death — well, is this so unusual?
I found it a bit ironic that in the last book, Rabbit at Rest, Harry is so concerned about his being over the top and facing death at the mere age of 56, while I sit here at the age of 80. Of course, he had to live with a heart at his age worse than mine at my age.
Of course, Updike was a warmed over Lutheran which puts his experience, and Rabbit’s, on a different plane from mine, as a warmed over atheist with strong metaphysical curiosity. But I did dig a lot of Rabbit’s feelings about politics, the world, the meaning and purpose of life, more in the final book than in the first three.
I was repulsed by Rabbit’s prejudices and middle class morality, even in the presence of his sexual obsessions. He did change as the decades went on, I think, maybe reflecting Updike’s own changes. But I did grow to love the guy and become immersed in the whole milieu of those books, that world.