Rabbit Redux

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Rabbit Redux
RabbitReduxbookcover.jpg
First edition
Author John Updike
Country United States
Language English
Publisher Alfred A. Knopf
Publication date
1971
Media type Print (Hardcover and Paperback)
Pages 406 pp
ISBN 0-394-47439-2
OCLC 186352
813/.5/4
LC Class PZ4.U64 Raap 1971 PS3571.P4
Preceded by Rabbit, Run
Followed by Rabbit is Rich

Rabbit Redux is a 1971 novel by John Updike. It is the second book in his "Rabbit" series, beginning with Rabbit, Run and followed by Rabbit Is Rich, Rabbit At Rest, published from 1960 to 1990, and the related 2001 novella, Rabbit Remembered.

Plot summary[edit]

Rabbit Redux finds former high-school basketball star Harry "Rabbit" Angstrom working a dead-end job (as a Linotype operator at the local printing plant). He is approaching middle age in the declining and fictional city of Brewer, Pennsylvania, the place of his birth. When his wife leaves him for another man, Harry and his thirteen-year-old son are at a loss. He encounters people and events reflecting the state of the nation circa 1969.

Updike's recurring themes of guilt, sex, and death are joined in Redux by racism. Harry plays host to Skeeter, a cynical, drug-dealing African-American Vietnam vet who engages him in debates about the war and race relations. Jill, a wealthy white teenager fleeing suburban Connecticut, enthralls both Harry and his son. The four of them make a scandalous household emblematic of the Summer of Love's most confusing implications. Jill dies in a house fire. Harry and his wife are reconciled at book's end. The plot refers to the background of the historic Apollo 11 moon landing.

Reception[edit]

Contemporary reviews of the book were generally positive and often glowing. Time Magazine said of the book and its author, "Updike owns a rare verbal genius, a gifted intelligence and a sense of tragedy made bearable by wit. A masterpiece."[1] Anatole Broyard, writing for The New York Times opined, "In "Rabbit Redux," Updike's ear is perfect and he has finally put together in his prose all the things that were there only separately. He has sacrificed none of his sensibility -- simply translated it into gutsier, more natural but no less eloquent rhythms. He moves now with the sureness, grace and precision of the born athlete. Let me give you just one random example: Jill's mother -- rich, ripe spoiled -- feels, when she finds out what happened to her daughter, "a grieved anger seeking its ceiling, a flamingo in her voice seeking the space to flaunt its vivid wings. . ." But enough -- for God's sake, read the book. It may even -- will probably -- change your life."[2]

In later years, eminent critics and authors alike have praised the book. Joyce Carol Oates has said of the Rabbit Novels, "The being that most illuminates the Rabbit quartet is not finally Harry Angstrom himself but the world through which he moves in his slow downward slide, meticulously recorded by one of the most gifted American realists.... The Rabbit novels, for all their grittiness, constitute John Updike's surpassingly eloquent valentine to his country." In 2015, The Guardian Newspaper ranked it number 88 in a list of the 100 Best Novels.[3]

Meaning and use of 'redux'[edit]

Redux means "brought back, restored" (from the Latin reducere – bring back).[4] Other works of literature using the same word in the title include John Dryden's Astraea Redux (1662), "a poem on the happy restoration and return of His Sacred Majesty," and Anthony Trollope's Phineas Redux (1873).

The book's popularity resulted in a rise in the use of the word "redux" in popular discourse. In Rabbit at Rest, Rabbit notices:

a story...in the Sarasota paper a week or so ago, headlined Circus Redux. He hates that word, you see it everywhere, and he doesn't know how to pronounce it. Like arbitrageur and perestroika.[5]

Updike pronounced the word "ray-dooks."[6]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Lundquist, Molly. "Rabbit Redux (Updike) - Book Reviews - LitLovers". www.litlovers.com. Retrieved 2016-02-09. 
  2. ^ Broyard, Review By Anatole (1971-11-05). "'Rabbit Redux'". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2016-02-09. 
  3. ^ McCrum, Robert (2015-05-25). "The 100 best novels: No 88 – Rabbit Redux by John Updike (1971)". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 2016-02-09. 
  4. ^ Oxford English Dictionary entry for "redux".
  5. ^ Rabbit at Rest, p. 50
  6. ^ Updike, John. "A 'Special Message' to purchasers of the Franklin Library limited edition, in 1981, of Rabbit Redux." Hugging the Shore: Essays and Criticism, New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1983. 858–859.

External links[edit]

  • Anatole Broyard, "Review: 'Rabbit Redux' ", New York Times, 5 November 1971