This 1968 portrait of John Updike (1932-2009) by Robert Vickrey hangs in the National Portrait Gallery in Washington DC.
Throughout his prolific writing career, John Updike explored “the three great secret things” in human experience: sex, religion, and art. His award-winning novels and short stories are as remarkable for their stylistic perfection as for the messy human relationships they portray in middle-class suburban communities. His first important novel, Rabbit, Run (1960), details the sexual adventures of aging former athlete Harry "Rabbit" Angstrom. Despite his publisher's fears of an obscenity prosecution, the novel garnered acclaim, and Updike continued Angstrom's story in three subsequent novels —two of them Pulitzer Prize winners.
Updike created a national sensation in 1968 with his novel Couples, set in “the post-pill paradise” of an Eastern seaboard town, where spouse-swapping and the hedonistic pursuit of sexual liberation create spiritual and psychological turmoil. The book's notoriety inspired Time magazine to put this portrait of the author on its cover, along with a banner heralding “The Adulterous Society”. -- NPG
The Adulterous Society
Time, April 30, 1968
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