You’ve treated your early years fictionally and have discussed them in interviews, but you haven’t said much about your time at Harvard. I wonder what effect you think it had.
My time at Harvard, once I got by the compression bends of the freshman year, was idyllic enough, and as they say, successful; but I felt toward those years, while they were happening, the resentment a caterpillar must feel while his somatic cells are shifting all around to make him a butterfly. I remember the glow of the Fogg Museum windows, and my wife-to-be pushing her singing bicycle through the snowy Yard, and the smell of wet old magazines that arose from the cellar of the Lampoon and hit your nostrils when you entered the narthex, and numerous pleasant revelations in classrooms—all of it haunted, though, by knowledge of the many others who had passed this way, and felt the venerable glory of it all a shade keener than I, and written sufficiently about it. All that I seem able to preserve of the Harvard experience is in one short story, “The Christian Roommates.” There was another, “Homage to Paul Klee,” that has been printed in The Liberal Context but not in a book. Foxy Whitman, in Couples, remembers some of the things I do. Like me, she feels obscurely hoodwinked, pacified, by the process of becoming nice. I distrust, perhaps, hallowed, very okay places. Harvard has enough panegyrists without me.”—“John Updike, The Art of Fiction No. 43,” the Paris Review