By John Updike
During this antic riff on Hawthorne's Scarlet Letter, the Reverend Tom Marshfield, a latter-day Arthur Dimmesdale, is shipped west from his Midwestern parish in sexual shame. At a desolate tract retreat devoted to relaxation, activity, and non secular renewal, this fortyish serial fornicator is needed to maintain a magazine whose thirty-one weekly entries represent the ebook you presently carry on your hand. In his splendidly overwrought variety he lays naked his soul and his past--his marriage to the daughter of his ethics professor, his affair along with his organist, his antipathetic conversations along with his senile father and his bisexual curate, his golfing rankings, his poker arms, his Biblical exegeses, and his smoldering hope for the directress of the retreat, the impregnable Ms. Prynne. A testomony for our times.
From the alternate Paperback edition.
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Additional info for A Month of Sundays: A Novel
So here he informs us of the king’s generosity in providing them with nourishment that was not of an ordinary kind ﬁt for captives and slaves; instead, he gave orders for them to share in the king’s table. Shortly afterwards he mentions their self-control and sound values, not indulging in self-gloriﬁcation but proposing a beneﬁcial lesson to those prepared to accept beneﬁt. It is possible to see also the moderation in his thinking: after mentioning above that the king ordered young men of royal birth to be chosen, fair to behold and of becoming stature, and citing at this point the persons’ names, he simply referred to the tribe of Judah and concealed their royal connections.
To display this providence for the Jews, he also arranged for those in the company of blessed Daniel to reach Babylon with them; he was young | and in the bloom of youth, was reared in the palace with those God-loving youngsters, enjoyed from his youth the blossoming of divine grace, was ﬁlled with wisdom and understanding of every kind, and on the one hand won great favor with the potentate, and on the other was a source of beneﬁt to him by proclaiming the message of true religion. 19 And not only to him but also to all his subjects: what he learned from this man’s teaching he transmitted to his subjects by publicly proclaiming a law bidding all the citizens to serve the God of which he was the mediator.
Chapter 1 25 The king ordered them daily portions of food from the king’s table and wine from his supply.
A Month of Sundays: A Novel by John Updike