John Updike was never one to mince words — whether written or spoken. In fact, the prolific writer, who died Tuesday at age 76, was so consumed by them that he admitted to having lost interest in archeology and all his other old pursuits, save for those that advanced his writing. And he was as eager to talk about his work as he was to write his 50-plus books. WWD interviewed the two-time Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist twice — once in the Seventies and again in the Nineties (see full interview here). Here, quotes from those interviews:

“Being a writer has become a dream come true for me — like an answered prayer. But I think I’m from the last generation of writers who can make that dream come true. The Nineties diet just doesn’t have as big a space for fiction.” — 1997

This story first appeared in the January 28, 2009 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

“I’m a plugger. Even the way Rabbit sits in front of his Linotype machine day after day reminds me of myself, of the way I sit in front of the typewriter. Writing does not require any drive — it’s like saying a chicken requires drive to lay an egg.” — Updike comparing himself to Harry “Rabbit” Angstrom, 1972

“I used to worry about dying. This feeling of being carried along, helplessly toward your own death was stronger when I was in my 30s than it is now, though I’m 30 years closer to my own death. It’s a paradox in a way, but the older you get, the less existential these questions become.” — on death and dying, 1997

“Living here, among the Brahmins, is a little mystifying to me. They have this degree of self-satisfaction in who their ancestors happened to be. These people are taking pleasure in money that their parents piled up. Even though I’m a WASP, I feel like an outsider.” — on his Massachusetts home, 1997

“No one’s given serious consideration to the idea that Skeeter, the angry Black, might be Jesus. I think probably he might be. And if that’s so, then people ought to be very nice to him.” — on the critical reaction to “Rabbit Redux” in 1972

“I distrust people who are so giving of themselves, so un-uptight.” — on Germaine Greer in 1972
“I like her, I like her physical style. I also like her courage. I can’t agree with what she says, but I love her for caring so much.” — on Jane Fonda, 1972

“I resent the moral ambiguity of today’s films.” — 1972

“I don’t want to get into this thing of writing successful books. I want to leave myself room to write an arcane and self-indulgent book. That’s the only kind that’s interesting for anyone to read 20 years from now.” — 1972

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