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Does anyone know what inspired John Updike's short story 'Archangel', a beautiful but...

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anzio45 | (Level 1) Assistant Educator

Posted February 5, 2009 at 10:43 PM via web

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Does anyone know what inspired John Updike's short story 'Archangel', a beautiful but mystifying (to me anyway) piece of prose?

The 'story' reads more like poetry than prose and seems to present a series of images of perfection. When I first read it I felt it had a psalm-like quality and this would at least loosely connect with the title but that's about as far as I got with it. I'm not necessarily asking for an 'explanation' because much literature remains beautiful in mystery (Eliot is probably my favourite in this regard), but I would like to hear some impressions from other readers. Thanks.

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rufusrat | Student, Undergraduate | eNotes Newbie

Posted April 9, 2009 at 10:55 PM (Answer #1)

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Interesting reading of this.  I happened to pick up Pigeon Feathers last week at a thrift store and reading through it I was really struck by this piece (prose? poem?).  I've read it over several times and I think it may be Updike's Muse, a kind of stream-of-consciousness description that came to him as his career was just beginning to take off and he was coming to grips with what was happening to him.  To me, its a spiritual, non-religious vision of what lives and breathes in every artist.

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