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Writing for The New YorkerCritical Essays on an American Periodical$
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Fiona Green

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780748682492

Published to Edinburgh Scholarship Online: January 2018

DOI: 10.3366/edinburgh/9780748682492.001.0001

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Portrait of the Rabbit as a Young Beau: John Updike, New Yorker Humorist

Portrait of the Rabbit as a Young Beau: John Updike, New Yorker Humorist

(p.161) Chapter 8 Portrait of the Rabbit as a Young Beau: John Updike, New Yorker Humorist
Writing for The New Yorker

Thomas Karshan

Edinburgh University Press

This chapter argues that New Yorker humorist John Updike was able to develop a fifth column position by drawing upon discontents already implicit in New Yorker humour. In its cartoons and light verse, Updike found a humorous cloud of secular anxiety which he could distil, with deceptive courtesy, into an internal critique of The New Yorker's culture. Cartoons showing savages acting like Manhattanites, or vice versa, betrayed a sense of the hidden affinity between civilisation and the discontented primitive instincts; cartoons about cannibals, the fearful possibility that life was a violent matter of survival; cartoons about urban anxiety, the false support of work, and works; while light verse playing on speed and slowness hinted at an underlying desire to see in a human life an unmodern norm of shape and pace.

Keywords:   John Updike, humorist, The New Yorker, cartoons, light verse, secular anxiety, internal critique

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