In an autobiographical essay, Updike famously identified sex, art, and religion as "the three great secret things" in human experience. The grandson of a Presbyterian minister (his first father-in-law was also a minister), his writing in all genres has displayed a preoccupation with philosophical questions. A lifelong churchgoer and student of Christian theology, the Jesuit magazine America awarded him its Campion Award in 1997 as a "distinguished Christian person of letters."A fellow Updikephiliac mentions the late author's desire to have a large family after the experience of being an only child.
I learned about in the usual 21st century way: via the Internet. I was checking out the Columbus Metro Library website to see if I had, via them, a free subscription to JSTOR in order to read an analysis of the catalyst for the poem "The Naked and the Nude" by Robert Graves, when I saw the book I'm reading featured (see picture above). I was taken aback by the dates associated with Updike; it took a full second or more to register that the dates weren't publication dates of some kind, but of the birth and death variety. He was 76.