02 July, 2016

Rabbit at Rest (First Trade Edition)

BY John Updike
Book Information1/1/0/US/AF/1990/?  •  210x148x45  •  695  •  Pulitzer'91  •  NBCCA'90

As the final paper of the quartet, "Rabbit at Rest" is an elegiac meditation on the sense of an ending, foretold in the opening paragraph when the  "sudden funny feeling" that Rabbit feels at the airport was not his son and family, but "something more ominous and intimately his: his own death". Along the way, Rabbit has to deal with his increasing irrelevance, a reminder that there is really no country for old men. The acceptance that the end is near, however, emancipates Rabbit from constraints of norms and morality, and provides the perfect self-righteous justification to behave badly in his quest to extract what's left of life's offerings. He engages in gluttony with junk food, elicits wrath from a husband grieving for his wife's death with the comment that "she was a fantastic lay", practices without shame a brand of racism and misogyny arising from his hubristic pride, and indulge in a lusty affair with his own daughter-in-law. He then runs away one last time and, while have a one-on-one basketball game with a local youth, suffers a heart attack before passing on with his family, reconciled, beside him. 

"Rabbit at Rest", published in 1990 by Alfred Knopf, won the Pulitzer with the fiction jury's laudatory comment that "it represents the work of an artist who has arrived at the very peak of his powers." The book beat fellow finalists Linda Hogan's "Mean Spirit" and Tim O'Brien's "The Things They Carry", which it also came on top of to win the National Book Critics Circle Award, whose other finalists were Sue Miller's "Family Picture", Wallace Stegner's "Collected Stories", and Charles Johnson's "Middle Passage", that year's National Book Award winner. Updike would be one of only three writers - along with Booth Tarkington and William Faulkner - to win the Pulitzer fiction prize twice. No writer had won more than twice to date.

"Rabbit at Rest" has three first editions, this first trade edition and a limited signed first edition, both issued by Alfred Knopf, and a signed first edition in leather issued by the Franklin Library. The design of this first trade edition's dust jacket reverted to the optic art form of colored stripes and discs, this time in the shape of a tombstone. The designer remains unknown.

This is the first trade edition with the original dust jacket that is unclipped, reflecting the correct price of $21.95. The book is bound in black clothed board with gilt lettering, and has purple topstain. The copyright page should state "First Trade Edition". This book is not rare and a VG+ copy can be purchased from eBay or Abebooks from $40 onwards. This is a VG+ copy with a NF dust jacket and a VG+ book that suffers from faded topstain.





















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