28 January 2009

John Updike's "The Spirit of the Game" and American National Mythologies

The United States Golf Association has made John Updike's 1994 essay, "The Spirit of the Game," available on its web site as part of its tribute to the recently-deceased author. If you want a pocket guide to classic themes on American identity and a brilliant example of a great writer yoking a sport to American national mythologies, check it out. It reminds me of the great post-W.W. II American cultural critics who emphasized America's newness, grounding in Puritan, transcendental, and romantic ideals, connection to nature, and valuing of freedom, not to mention earlier studies based on the model of identifying the "national character." How does the essay stand the test of time for you?

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