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Rabbit Angstrom: The Four Novels (Rabbit Angstrom #1-4)

4.27 of 5 stars 4.27  ·  rating details  ·  1,245 ratings  ·  136 reviews
Newly revised by the author for this edition, and printed together in one volume for the first time, Updike's four Rabbit novels chronicle the history of a man and a nation from the 1950s to the 1980s. Harry 'Rabbit' Angstrom, athlete, is Mr Middle America. Dazzling in style, tender in feeling, often erotic in description and coruscating with realistic details which recrea ...more
Hardcover, 1520 pages
Published October 17th 1995 by Everyman's Library (first published October 17th 1994)
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Community Reviews

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Liza Martin
Before embarking on the journey through Harry "Rabbit" Angstrom's life, I read a lot of the reviews on the first novel, "Rabbit, Run," and many readers expressed a strong dislike for the main character.

To all of those who disliked or even hated Harry: You don't know good literature when you read it!

Sure, Harry is no hero, but he's not an anti-hero, either. You don't like him throughout the series, but you can't hate him, either. He's just a normal man who makes mistakes, with minimal accomplishm
After a particularly unengaging two years of study I promised myself an extravagance – a big novel, for no reason. Something that I had been meaning to read for ten years or so, something american now. (Living in a colony, most of my novels have been british.) The last American novels were more than twenty years ago, Moby Dick and Lolita (American?). I picked the Rabbit Tetralogy.

Individually the books are enjoyable, immersionable even. But reading in a continuous uninterrupted sequence amplifie
Although it took me five months to complete, I've enjoyed every minute of it. Following the life of Rabbit Angstrom has become one of my favorite literary experiences. The themes of sex, ego, race, religion, family, and drugs influence the character through every part of this four-book series. Updike's writing is best displayed in these works; his descriptions of suburban life in Pennsylvania are easy to picture and relate to, especially as someone who grew up in the area as I did. Yet there are ...more
Fifteen-hundred-and-sixteen pages later and I wish John Updike had written more. This is an amazing achievement of a story and I love every page of it.

In 2005 I was staying in Italy with a recovering professor of mine. I think when you are twenty-three and you're touring Italy with a girlfriend you should have a grand old party. But I ended up staying at Unsworth's house for a week solid. They even insisted that we return the rental car and they would arrange to get us to Assissi and
Updike's Rabbit Angstrom novels really got to me. When I finished the last one, I put it down and burst into tears. I wrote to Updike to tell him that, and he wrote back.
Eileen Dooley
Absolutely worth the re-read thirty years after the original read.
Language is a vivid second time around, and what was new then is history now. Misogyny even creepier now, no female imperfection misses the gimlet eye. Occasioned a re-read of his bio and a driving trip through Updike-land to see his house, school, graveyard and the dreaded farm - all still there and a lot of familiar secondary character names on tombstones - no RIP there.
If I met Rabbit Angstrom, I'd probably want to punch him in the face, and I hated every minute of reading about his internal life. But I loved all the details of his changing America, his crumbling family, and his slow dissolution. As frustrating as these books were emotionally, I put every one down praising Updike as a writer.
Probably four of the very best modern novels i have ever read.
Good writing is not enough.
Jessie Young
I read books 1 and 2 in a different volume, but picked this one up because it was used and it ended up being $10 cheaper to buy this used volume than to just pick up the paperback versions of 3 and 4. Since finishing, I've switched to reading on my new Kindle. The juxtaposition of this 1500 page mammoth and the Kindle makes reading on a Kindle feel almost like cheating.

But perhaps the weight of this novel is a good thing. Makes you work for closure on Rabbit's life, rather than breezing through
Rabbit Run

The technical style of the book is hard to beat. There is a clear plot, minor characters that come to life, settings that are at once natural and resonant, and a deeper meaning to the story that comes out without long philosophical expositions. In short, this is as good as the realistic novel gets.

Reading the reviews on Goodreads, I am amazed at the number of people who see Updike as a misogynist. I suppose it must be because Rabbit treats women so badly and Updike tries to understan
I read Rabbit Run in the 60s probably mostly for prurient reasons. The four novels included here (Rabbit Run, Rabbit Redux, Rabbit is Rich, Rabbit at Rest), as well as a separately published novella sequel, Rabbit Remembered, were written over 40 years and follow Rabbit as he moves through his life in small town Pennsylvania, based on Shillington, where Updike grew up. Rabbit Run seemed overwritten and under plotted, but I hung in there and was rewarded many times over. Each book is better than ...more
Jay Hawk
Having read these 4 novels one after another, I couldn't have even considered picking up another novel until I had finished. I don't believe it matters whether you like or dislike Rabbit; the writing is what it is all about.

Personally I liked Rabbit and all his failings. Updike is possibly the most honest author I have ever come across - especially when dealing with the male experience. Rabbit thinks as many men think, whether poor, rust belt American or not. Male readers who claim they haven't
Evan Anway
Rabbit's life was a lens through which American culture and his inner monologue interacted. By no means a role model nor a cultural influence, Rabbit's actions and decisions were reflections of the times in which he lived. This epic series of novels captured history by viewing it as we will see it in our own lifetimes: from a first-person, present perspective. This story gives us a unique perspective into a life delivered with unfiltered honesty. I wonder how an honest story of my own life would ...more
Last week I was reading an article by John Updike and was struck (as usual) by the simplicity and lucidness of his prose. That got me thinking about his works that I have read and the result is this post on the Rabbit series of novels. The Rabbit tetralogy is a series of 4 novels written by John Updike, tracing the life of 'Harry Rabbit Angstrom', from his mid 20's to the next 4 decades. The novels were also written over a period of 4 decades with one novel being published in one decade starting ...more
Adam Gutschenritter
Rabbit Run-How do you rate a book with a main character with just north of zero redeeming qualities? He is selfish, demanding, childish, mean, greedy and totally lost in trying to find what it means to live a good life. I believe he wants to succeed and to be a good man, but the life he is in justifies his actions. Despite this Rabbit is a horrible human being. On the other hand Updike's writing was amazing and for that writing I will continue. 4 of 5

Rabbit Redux-What the hell was this book? I r
For all of its epic scope, I feel like I never really knew Rabbit Angstrom. I know he thought about sex a lot. He got in to drugs in the sixties, got high in his living room and screwed a teenage runaway. He left his wife in the fifties and she got drunk and drowned their newborn daughter. He got blamed, in absentia. He never was a good father, always resentful of his son's small hands ("those Springer hands," Springer being his wife's maiden name) and whiny nature. Even his wife, a "m
May 01, 2010 Melinda rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: people who like long books
Recommended to Melinda by: New York Times Book Magazine
I read these 4 novels one right after the other last year. It's challenging getting through all of them at once, but I did it. Since I did read all 4 books without stopping, I can't really choose which is my favorite or really even distinguish between me it's all one big book. Rabbit is not that likable of a character, but what roped me in was the broad scope of American history lived by this one man over his life starting in the late 50's. It's not Forest Gump, but it is a way to unde ...more
Charles Stahl
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Rabbit Redux: In my mind, this was better than the first and third entries in the Rabbit Angstrom novels. Updike's creation of characters that seem to represent more than just an individual on the page is so easy for him. Jill a flower child, Skeeter a Vietnam War Vet, Mim an emigrant to the west to pursue a hedonistic life style and Rabbit--all rendered to make them individuals first, emblems of a disparate America second. Rabbit, untethered by but also indifferent to his wife's infidelities, s ...more
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Rabbit, Run (read 10/2/09) - 3

This is a dense but concise story that's at best mediocre and cast in lavishly beautiful prose. As a writer, I cannot help but appreciate the beauty of Updike's descriptions. The story, though, isn't all that and it takes some hard slogging in the beginning to get through, but overall it's a fairly entertaining read.

Rabbit Redux (read 11/19/09) - 2.5

Rabbit Angstrom grows on you. The first hundred or two hundred pages are just meh, but once Rabbit lets in Jill and Sk
Since this is, essentially, four separate novels, I took it upon myself to review them separately. Now that's dedication.

Overall: Updike knows how to set a scene. The first novel takes place in an era I wasn't around to experience, but I was there. I got it. These novels teach you something about America, what we think is important and how we cope. And it's depressing. Also: even if you hate the characters, and have a dislike of the story itself, you can't deny that Updike is a fantastic writer.
It took me about a year to get through all four novels, but I finally finished. I've stuck with Harry Angstrom through thick and thin (mostly thin).

Harry did a lot of really horrible things, and most of the time I hated his guts, but every so often, there were glimpses of someone who was trying to do the right thing but just didn't know how. To me, he was much more sympathetic in the first and last novels. I could understand why he did some of the things he did when he was young, and when he wa
I highly suggest reading the collection, to make sure you read it in order and don't lose too much time between the separate novels. I read the history of young Rabbit through to his old age during the worst summer of my life. Reading about Rabbit's failures as a husband, father then business man and friend and lover really kept me in check. Perhaps because there are four novels Updike really has time to invest in all of the characters that play into the life of Rabbit Angstrom. Particularly int ...more
Mark Speed
I've already reviewed the individual novels here:

... but buying it all as one volume makes a lot of sense. In my view, they need to be read back-to-back to get the most from them.
Alan Gerstle
I thought Rabbit Run was a masterpiece, perhaps because it was short enough to be structured elegantly and with less of the 'decorative' writing that seems to adhere to many of Updike's other novels. As I read, 'Rabbit at Rest,' I had my fill of the character and series, and didn't finish it, or, as someone else stated more directly, 'Die already!'
Despite taking almost two months of my life to finish them, I really enjoyed these books. I feel I got to know Rabbit very well and as his life was enfolding through the decades, he became like an old friend, almost, despite not being at all a nice guy and a total chauvinist. But how real he and the other characters are. As others have already pointed out, none of the characters are very likable (including the insufferable son Nelson, what a waste of space) but you still want to keep reading and ...more
So, no one else in my book club particularly liked my selection, and I admit that most of the characters are not particularly likable. But Updike's writing style kept me going and the characters were just interesting to me. Everyone knows a Rabbit Angstrom - the popular high school jock who is slightly jerky but not a bad person who after high school ends up being joe schmo nobody. There are elements in all the characters, though, that we can relate to in how they address lives that haven't turn ...more
Ok the five star rating is overall for the four novels.
Rabbit, Run is about 300 pages and a great read. Sure not much happens if you break down a typical Updike novel, this is especially true with the Rabbit series, but that's not why anyone reads his books. The prose slowly paints a nice picture here.
Rabbit Redux - I hated, it was way too random, the strangest and worst book of the series. Unfortunately this needs to be read to understand the bridge to the third and fourth books.
Rabbit is Rich
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John Hoyer Updike (born March 18, 1932 in Shillington, Pennsylvania) was an American writer. Updike's most famous work is his Rabbit series (Rabbit, Run; Rabbit Redux; Rabbit Is Rich; Rabbit At Rest; and Rabbit Remembered). Rabbit is Rich and Rabbit at Rest both won Pulitzer Prizes for Updike. Describing his subject as "the American small town, Protestant middle class," Updike is well known for hi ...more
More about John Updike...

Other Books in the Series

Rabbit Angstrom (4 books)
  • Rabbit, Run (Rabbit Angstrom, #1)
  • Rabbit Redux (Rabbit Angstrom, #2)
  • Rabbit Is Rich (Rabbit Angstrom, #3)
  • Rabbit at Rest (Rabbit Angstrom, #4)
Rabbit, Run (Rabbit Angstrom, #1) Rabbit at Rest (Rabbit Angstrom, #4) Rabbit Is Rich (Rabbit Angstrom, #3) Rabbit Redux (Rabbit Angstrom, #2) The Witches of Eastwick (Eastwick, #1)

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