The Centaur

The Centaur

by John Updike
3.2 7


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The Centaur by John Updike

The Centaur is a modern retelling of the legend of Chiron, the noblest and wisest of the centaurs, who, painfully wounded yet unable to die, gave up his immortality on behalf of Prometheus. In the retelling, Olympus becomes small-town Olinger High School; Chiron is George Caldwell, a science teacher there; and Prometheus is Caldwell’s fifteen-year-old son, Peter. Brilliantly conflating the author’s remembered past with tales from Greek mythology, John Updike translates Chiron’s agonized search for relief into the incidents and accidents of three winter days spent in rural Pennsylvania in 1947. The result, said the judges of the National Book Award, is “a courageous and brilliant account of a conflict in gifts between an inarticulate American father and his highly articulate son.”

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780449912164
Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
Publication date: 08/28/1996
Edition description: Reissue
Pages: 320
Sales rank: 454,163
Product dimensions: 5.49(w) x 8.23(h) x 0.66(d)

About the Author

John Updike was born in Shillington, Pennsylvania, in 1932. He graduated from Harvard College in 1954 and spent a year in Oxford, England, at the Ruskin School of Drawing and Fine Art. From 1955 to 1957 he was a member of the staff of The New Yorker. His novels have won the Pulitzer Prize, the National Book Award, the National Book Critics Circle Award, the Rosenthal Foundation Award, and the William Dean Howells Medal. In 2007 he received the Gold Medal for Fiction from the American Academy of Arts and Letters. John Updike died in January 2009.

Date of Birth:

March 18, 1932

Date of Death:

January 27, 2009

Place of Birth:

Shillington, Pennsylvania

Place of Death:

Beverly Farms, MA


A.B. in English, Harvard University, 1954; also studied at the Ruskin School of Drawing and Fine Art in Oxford, England

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Centaur 3.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 7 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Although I have never been a large fan of Updike, I read this novel after a friend recommended it to me, and I was pleasantly surprised. The storyline is nothing to be proud of, as nothing exciting literally happens, but it was a pleasue to read along as the relationship between Father and Son grew and developed throughout the three days of the book. Using a few allusions to Greek mythology, and submersing the reader in complete myth once near the beginning of the novel, Updike was able to stress the subtle changes in the character's lives.
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puzzleman More than 1 year ago
Story was okay. Mythological angle was boring. Imagery awful.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book, while interesting, can sometimes fly off track back into ancient Greece, leaving the current story hanging. Sometimes confusing, always interesting, this book is a good read, but I would not suggest it if you want some relaxing novel. It is inwoven with Greek myths and characters, so if you don't understand Greek myths, you probably won't understand this book as well as you could. Still be good though, I think. I understand Greek myth. Try it, you may like it!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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