Great Throughts Treasury

This site is dedicated to the memory of Dr. Alan William Smolowe who gave birth to the creation of this database.

John Updike

American Novelist, Poet, Short-Story Writer, Art Critic, Literary Critic

"We are most alive when we’re in love."

"The artist brings something into the world that did not exist before, and he does it without destroying something else."

"Customs and convictions change; respectable people are the last to know, or to admit, the change, and the ones most offended by fresh reflections of the facts in the mirror of art. "

"Any activity becomes creative when the doer cares about doing it right or better. "

"Americans have been conditioned to respect newness, whatever it costs them. "

"Most of American life consists of driving somewhere and then returning home, wondering why the hell you went. "

"We do survive every moment, after all, except the last one. "

"The Founding Fathers in their wisdom decided that children were an unnatural strain on parents. So they provided jails called schools, equipped with tortures called an education. "

"Suspect each moment, for it is a thief, tiptoeing away with more than it brings."

"How can you respect the world when you see it's being run by a bunch of kids turned old?"

"Dreams come true. Without that possibility, nature would not incite us to have them."

"The refusal to rest content, the willingness to risk excess on behalf of one's obsessions, is what distinguishes artists from entertainers, and what makes some artists adventurers on behalf of us all."

"We are fated to love one another; we hardly exist outside our love, we are just animals without it, with a birth and a death and constant fear between. Our love has lifted us up , out of the dreadfulness of merely living. "

"America is a vast conspiracy to make you happy."

"Yes, there is a ton of information on the web, but much of it is egregiously inaccurate, unedited, unattributed and juvenile."

"Time is our element, not a mistaken invader."

"We take our bearings, daily, from others. To be sane is, to a great extent, to be sociable."

"The guarantee that our self enjoys an intended relation to the outer world is most, if not all, we ask from religion. God is the self projected onto reality by our natural and necessary optimism. He is the not-me personified."

"Our brains are no longer conditioned for reverence and awe. We cannot imagine a Second Coming that would not be cut down to size by the televised evening news, or a Last Judgment not subject to pages of holier-than-Thou second- guessing in The New York Review of Books."

"The heart prefers to move against the grain of circumstance; perversity is the soul's very life. "

"We are here to give praise... to pay attention."