John Updike Quotes

Most popular John Updike Quotes

All blessings are mixed blessings.
— John Updike

fate luck

We are most alive when we're in love.
— John Updike
Critics are like pigs at the pastry cart.
— John Updike


Sex is like money; only too much is enough.


Celebrity is a mask that eats into the face.


America is a vast conspiracy to make you happy.

America happiness

I think of my books as canvases. I paint with words.


Art imitates Nature in this: not to dare is to dwindle.
— John Updike

risk-taking art

Your fear trills like an alarm bell you cannot shut off.


What art offers is space—a certain breathing room for the spirit.
— John Updike


Adversity in immunological doses has its uses; more than that crushes.


Religion enables us to ignore nothingness and get on with the jobs of life.
— John Updike


Art is like baby shoes. When you coat them with gold, they can no longer be worn.


New York is of course many cities, and an exile does not return to the one he left.

exile New York City

Dreams come true; without that possibility, nature would not incite us to have them.


You reach an age when every sentence you write bumps into one you wrote thirty years ago.


The first breath of adultery is the freest; after it, constraints aping marriage develop.


The inner spaces that a good short story lets us enter are the old apartments of religion.


Writing doesn't require drive.  It's like saying a chicken has to have drive to lay an egg.
— John Updike The


Perfectionism is the enemy of creation, as extreme self-solicitude is the enemy of well-being.


Writing criticism is to writing fiction and poetry as hugging the shore is to sailing in the open sea.


A healthy male adult bore consumes each year one-and-a-half times his own weight in other people's patience.
— John Updike

funny boring people

A healthy male adult bore consumes each year one and a half times his own weight in other people's patience.

boring people

An affair wants to spill, to share its glory with the world.  No act is so private it does not seek applause.
To be President of the United States, sir, is to act as advocate for a blind, venomous, and ungrateful client.


Life is like an overlong drama through which we sit being nagged by vague memories of having read the reviews.


One imagines, when young, that everything desirable must be obtained in spite of the adult world, against its grain.

youth & age

Fiction is nothing less than the subtlest instrument for self-examination and self-display that mankind has invented yet.


It's not enough for a story to flow.  It has to kind of trickle and glint as it crosses over the stones of the bare facts.
— John Updike Talk


Natural beauty is essentially temporary and sad; hence the impression of obscene mockery which artificial flowers give us.
— John Updike


It's a little like going to the tailor or barber.  I have never liked haircuts and I don't like being edited, even slightly.
— John Updike


There is no doubt that I have lots of words inside me; but at moments, like rush-hour traffic at the mouth of a tunnel, they jam.

words writing

Four years was enough of Harvard. I still had a lot to learn, but had been given the liberating notion that now I could teach myself.
— John Updike


Creativity is merely a plus name for regular activity. . . any activity becomes creative when the doer cares about doing it right, or better.
— John Updike
Golf appeals to the idiot in us and the child. Just how childlike golf players become is proven by their frequent inability to count past five.
— John Updike


Pressed, I would define spirituality as the shadow of light humanity casts as it moves through the darkness of everything that can be explained.


In general, the churches, visited by me often on weekdays ... bore for me the same relation to God that billboards did to Coca-Cola; they promoted thirst without quenching it.
— John Updike


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


Smaller than a breadbox, bigger than a TV remote, the average book fits into the human hand with a seductive nestling, a kiss of texture, whether of cover cloth, glazed jacket, or flexible paperback.


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.
— John Updike


It was one of history's great love stories, the mutually profitable romance which Hollywood and bohunk America conducted almost in the dark, a tapping of fervent messages through the wall of the San Gabriel Range.
— John Updike


It is not difficult to deceive the first time, for the deceived possesses no antibodies; unvaccinated by suspicion, she overlooks latenesses, accepts absurd excuses, permits the flimsiest patchings to repair great rents in the quotidian.


As in marriage, there is sharing [in golf]; we search for one another's lost balls, we comment helpfully upon one another's defective swings, we march more or less in the same direction, and we come together, like couples at breakfast and dinner, on the tees and on the greens.