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Villages av John Updike
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Villages (urspr publ 2004; utgåvan 2004)

av John Updike

MedlemmarRecensionerPopularitetGenomsnittligt betygOmnämnanden
5031035,643 (3.2)17
This novel is a bildungsroman describing the education, romantic and otherwise, of Owen Mackenzie. Owen's education (at M.I.T.) and his successful software company take him from the village of his birth, Willow, in eastern Pennsylvania, to Haskell's Crossing, in eastern Massachusetts, where he expects to end his days. In the course of this modest life's journey, the communal humanity of villages, chiefly embodied in their female citizens, seeks to humanize him, assuaging and chastening his childhood sense of singularity and foreboding. He knows that the quotidian surface holds an abyss of calamity beneath it, but he strives to cling to his dreamlike sense of leading a charmed life, an attempt in which he is encouraged by his two wives, Phyllis and Julia, and a number of other women. The time stretches from the hero's childhood in the 1930s to his retirement in the present century.… (mer)
Medlem:LadyLo
Titel:Villages
Författare:John Updike
Info:Knopf (2004), Edition: First Edition, Hardcover, 336 pages
Samlingar:Ditt bibliotek
Betyg:****
Taggar:Fiction, American

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Småstadsliv av John Updike (2004)

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engelska (9)  tyska (1)  Alla språk (10)
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John Updike has won every imaginable award for this stellar writing ability- including the Pulitzer Prize. His numerous novels written over the course of 50 years of time all share the common elements of candid descriptions of all phases of life, told from a white male’s point of view. Surely annoying and distasteful to the woke generation of readers.

Updike’s characters may not always be likable. In fact, Owen MacKenzie of "Villages", is downright offensive. One element that clearly offends is Updike’s eager willingness to blame women for Owen’s infidelities, and his graphic sexual descriptions of sexual encounters with various wanton, clingy, women from the village. However, maybe woke readers should consider it a compliment that the women in Owen’s life were the aggressors- in total control of their decisions, intentionally leading him down the path of immoral behavior and marital sin.

As the story begins, we learn Owen and his wife Phyllis were clearly sexually incompatible. It didn’t appear to be a deal breaker, or of much importance in the early years of marriage. And then the sexual revolution of the late 1960s began, and Owen got bored and strayed- over and over. As Owen becomes a successful entrepreneur in the budding computer software industry (with lots of vivid descriptions of the evolution of computers) his family grows to four children.

This is Owen’s story. He loves his work, and he loves his life. And his wife either loves him too much to complain about his extra-marital affairs, or does not love him enough to think it matters. We will never know. It would have been interesting to hear her side of the story- perhaps inspiring a 5 Star review. But Updike does not provide all the answers. All we know is that Owen is a man of intense physical passions. His one philosophical observation in the entire story is simply stated, “sex is a holiday”. It is just too bad his holidays had to occur outside the home with other women.

Adultery happens. It’s not for me to judge. But I fail to understand why anyone would indiscriminately go through a series of bawdy one night stands and casual affairs just for the sexual entertainment. So, please note that my rating is not based on condoning the actions of the characters, but is based on the captive quality of Updike’s storytelling, his ability to transition his narrative smoothly jumping back and forth in time, and his realistic descriptions of people. His characters come to life. Their pain, confusion, doubt, and insecurities are palpable. Likable or not, Owen MacKenzie conveys the image a real person. ( )
  LadyLo | Sep 22, 2020 |
Villages was one of Updike's later novels, released in 2005. Like many of his earlier novels, it's based around a story of middle class adultery in average-town America, with the main character looking back in his old age at the sex and love which has been indelibly weaved throughout his life's story.

With the historical narrative set mainly in the 1950s - 1970s, the protagonist, Owen Mackenzie - an MIT graduate and early pioneer of computer technology - lives comfortably in various 'villages' around the east coast of the States. He is the kind of man who has always been enthralled by the smallest details of the women who have crossed his path, seeing beauty in all the differences of their physique and character. Not surprisingly, this appreciation leads to him being easily persuaded to loosen the moral tethers that bind his marriage, from which point there is no going back.

Selfish, self-centred, amoral, most of the characters echo the stereotypes from the Rabbit Angstrom novels, with the familiar theme of middle-age boredom setting in amongst the weekend cocktail party set. That being said, this novel is much more focused on Mackenzie's emotional connections (or lack of) to his sexual affairs, and as such is probably most similar to his earlier Couples novel.

The sexual reminiscing is fairly unerotic, but as usual Updike manages to make the lives of weak, morally bankrupt characters totally engaging.

I'm a big Updike fan, and as always was blown away by the utter skill of his narrative. Not my favourite of his books so far, but enjoyable nonetheless. ( )
  AlisonY | Jun 24, 2015 |
John Updike's novels read just like his short stories, only longer. It's the same "slice of life" approach, he just gives you a broader slice. In Villages, we are presented with Updike's version of small town life, through the life of his main character, Owen Mackenzie. We're also presented with a brief history of the early decades of computer science, which is Owen's field. (This is integrated into the story somewhat more successfully than the history of postwar American art was in Updike's previous novel, Seek My Face.)

But what Villages is really about is sex. It follows Owen's sexual development from childhood to old age. Most of the book is about his many affairs with practically every woman in town. Updike has some interesting things to say about sex, some insightful things, some obvious things, some inconsistent things, and some just plain wrong things. On the whole, the attitude toward sex in this artistic portrayal of it isn't exactly healthy, but neither is it as sick as, say, Joyce's in Ulysses.

Not a bad read overall, but not fantastic either. ( )
1 rösta AshRyan | Dec 23, 2011 |
"It is a mad thing, to be alive"
  luisgouveiafernandes | Aug 19, 2011 |
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This book gives great pleasure. Some writers get more boring with age, but John Updike just gets more perspicacious. The wealth of connections and imagery increases with the years; the practice of literary expression makes the prose yet more perfect.
 
Unfortunately for the reader, his latest novel, "Villages,'' is very much in the "Licks of Love'' mode: it reconnoiters old territory surveyed by Mr. Updike many, many times before. Once again, we are treated to rambling, sometimes lascivious accounts of small-town adultery. Once again, we are given disquisitions on how sexual mores changed from the staid 1950's through the cultural revolution of the 60's and 70's, and into the roaring 90's. And once again, we are provided with a retrospective narrative in which the hero gazes into the rearview mirror of his life, reliving long-ago affairs and missed opportunities from the vertiginous vantage point of late middle age.
 
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Ah, love, let us be true

To one another! for the world, which seems

To lie before us like a land of dreams,

So various, so beautiful, so new,

Hath really neither joy, nor love, nor light,

Nor certitude, nor peace, nor help for pain....



--Matthew Arnold, "Dover Beach"
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For a long time, his wife has awoken early, at five or five-thirty. By the rhythms of her chemistry, sometimes discordant with Owen's, Julia wakes full of affection for him, her companion on the bed's motionless voyage through that night of imperfect sleep. She hugs him and, above his protests that he is still sleeping, declares in a soft but relentless voice how much she loves him, how pleased she is by their marriage. "I'm just so happy with you."
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This novel is a bildungsroman describing the education, romantic and otherwise, of Owen Mackenzie. Owen's education (at M.I.T.) and his successful software company take him from the village of his birth, Willow, in eastern Pennsylvania, to Haskell's Crossing, in eastern Massachusetts, where he expects to end his days. In the course of this modest life's journey, the communal humanity of villages, chiefly embodied in their female citizens, seeks to humanize him, assuaging and chastening his childhood sense of singularity and foreboding. He knows that the quotidian surface holds an abyss of calamity beneath it, but he strives to cling to his dreamlike sense of leading a charmed life, an attempt in which he is encouraged by his two wives, Phyllis and Julia, and a number of other women. The time stretches from the hero's childhood in the 1930s to his retirement in the present century.

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