The Centaur Paperback – Apr 1 1988
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|Paperback, Apr 1 1988||
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"A Triumph Of Love And Art."
-- The Washington Post
"A brilliant achievement...No one should need to be told that Updike has a mastery of the language matched in our time only by the finest poets."
-- Saturday Review
"A brilliant and moving novel."
-- The Baltimore Sun
"Unsurpassed...Natural, pertinent, fresh, subtle, and superbly written."
"A classic...A beautiful and memorable book."
-- The Critic
From the Trade Paperback edition. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
From the Inside Flap
In a small Pennsylvania town in the late 1940s, schoolteacher George Caldwell yearns to find some meaning in his life. Alone with his teenage son for three days in a blizzard, Caldwell sees his son grow and change as he himself begins to lost touch with his life. Interwoven with the myth of Chiron, the noblest centaur, and his own relationship to Prometheus, The Centaur one of John Updike's most brilliant and unusual novels. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.See all Product Description
Top Customer Reviews
As a whole, this is a wonderful, complicated book, one I plan on rereading as much as time (and other books) allow.
Also, seriously: yet again, this is proof for me that certain books (i.e. literature) cannot be listened to on tape. There is something within the optical structure of a novel that adds even more depth to the story. There is a reason a paragraph begins and end; a reason why something is in italics, or point-of-view switches from first to third. You lose all that when you listen to it. Try reading it, and maybe you'll see what I'm talking about.
The story concerns three days in the lives of George and Peter Caldwell, two residents of fictional Olinger, Pennsylvania. George is a high school science teacher, an endlessly compassionate man who is cursed with dangerously low self-esteem. Peter is his son, a developing artist who simultaneously loves and is exasperated with his father.
Interwoven with their story is the story of Chiron, "the noblest Centaur." Chiron's existence is one of suffering, due to a fatal wound he recieved at the hands of Hercules. Because of this affliction, he willingly gives up his life to save Prometheus, who is being punished by Zeus for the theft of fire. Throughout the course of the novel, it becomes apparent that George Caldwell is Chiron, a hero who suffers that those around him might live, and that Peter is Prometheus, an impetuous youth who dares to touch the face of God.
All of these elements combine wonderfully to create one of Updike's best, most compassionate, most complex, and most personal works. It's got all the humanity and spiritual yearning of ROGER'S VERSION or the Rabbit novels, but it's also got something those books don't: hope.
Peter dotes over his father during this bonding period, as his father prepares for death and his lack of will to live. Symbolically I believe that the father figure is immortal in a son's eyes, and just as Chiron prepares for death as an immortal, the father figure must also prepare for a type of death when the son comes of age as a young adult. The story slowly evolves to being a modern day metaphor of the Chiron legend.
I wish I knew more about Greek mythology to truly appreciate this book. Even though my amateurish knowledge limited my understanding of the symbolism, I still truly enjoyed the book and Updike's incredible ability to write. I recommend the book and also recommend having a basic understanding of the Chiron legend to really appreciate the book.
Most recent customer reviews
a fascinating technique employed by updike where he combines two diiferent worlds to deliver a poignant storyPublished on Jan. 18 2004 by William D. Tompkins
I listened to this book as a Book on Tape. Although it was well read, it was very difficult to follow as the narration jumped from past to present (to what from some perspectives... Read morePublished on Nov. 3 2003
I was given a list of books to choose from for a project in my high school sophmore honors english class and this book was on it. Read morePublished on May 25 2003
I thought that this was a beautifully-written novel, a delight to read. It's the story of a few days in the lives of the teacher George Caldwell and his teenage son, Peter. Read morePublished on May 18 2002 by MR G. Rodgers
Well, my title says it all. I liked it, but it lacked the power of the "Rabbit" series, the humor of "Witches of Eastwick" and "Bech, a Book". Read morePublished on March 11 2001
Now, normally I read science fiction, it's the bread and butter that I grew up on and I still love reading old and new SF. Read morePublished on Oct. 2 2000 by Michael Battaglia
Here is the work of an early genius. The Centaur (Updike's third novel) has something of the seriousness of The Poorhouse Fair and Rabbit, Run (his first and second), although it... Read morePublished on Sept. 5 2000 by Tom Adair
This wonderful book explores the awkward transitional state of adolescence and the paranoia and disillusionment of middle age with the masterful metaphors that make Updike so... Read morePublished on Aug. 27 2000 by 3baddogs