Religious Studies and Theology, Vol 26, No 1 (2007)

John Updike’s Rabbit, Run: A Quest for a Spiritual Vocabulary in the Vacuum Left by Modernism

David J Fekete
Issued Date: 15 Jul 2007


This article considers the powerful role of language and imaginative literature in cultural and self-formation. Drawing on Richard Rorty’s description of narrative forms as vehicles for meaning, I describe leading metaphors in representative literature of the Modern period. I suggest that Modernism exhibits a cultural loss of meaning, and a “death of God” zeitgeist. Works of that period also show pessimism about erotic relationships. I proceed with a close reading of John Updike’s Rabbit, Run, which was written just as the Modern period closes. In Updike, the protagonist intuits a strong spirituality and finds rich erotic experience. But in the wake of Modernism’s spiritual vacuity, and erotic pessimism, the protagonist in Rabbit, Run desperately seeks a vocabulary to voice his intuitions which his own culture cannot sustain.

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DOI: 10.1558/rsth.v26i1.25


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