“The Liberal Origins of John Updike’s Literary Imagination”

JMC Fellow Yoav Fromer explores the relationship between literature and politics in a new article for Modern Intellectual History, “The Liberal Origins of John Updike’s Literary Imagination”.

Abstract: This article, through a close engagement with John Updike’s work, explores the manner in which the postwar liberal temper shaped American fiction. By contextualizing the novelist’s early writings within the changing intellectual climate of the period, it demonstrates how his liberal sensibilities deeply informed his literary imagination. The essay employs new archival material about Updike’s Harvard education and sketches his political biography—the first of its kind—to offer a fresh and more nuanced understanding of Updike as not only a gifted writer but also a political thinker. Although he chose the less traveled road of fiction to do so, Updike expressed a particular temperament pervasive among many liberal intellectuals at the time. By challenging the widely held view of him as an apolitical writer, the article also enriches our understanding of the meanings and complexities of postwar liberalism while illuminating the often overlooked link between literature and politics.

Read the paper here.