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Centaur


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Novel by John Updike, published in 1963.

During three winter days of 1944 George Caldwell, a 50-year-old high-school teacher of science in Olinger, Pa., and his teenage son Peter have experiences that, though realistically told, are parallel to classic myths. Olinger is Olympus; the senior Caldwell is Chiron, the centaur who was a teacher of heroes, famed for surrendering his immortality and accepting death to be released from the pain of a wound; and Peter is not only an uneasy adolescent troubled by a skin disease, infatuated by a sweet girl, Penny, and envious of boys who are better athletes or more appealing, but he is Prometheus in love with Penelope and envious of Daedalus. While Caldwell copes with his wife Cassie (Ceres), who is eager to develop their property into a farm, and with his father-in-law, Pop Kramer (Kronos), he moves restlessly through life as he encounters a veritable pantheon of deities: the garage mechanic Al Hummel (Hephaistos), who helps him when he is wounded, as does Doc Appleton (Apollo); the school principal Zimmerman (Zeus), a petty tyrant enjoying an affair with a school-board member, Mrs. Herzog (Hera); and the lascivious physical education teacher, Vera (Venus), who is attracted to the local minister, the Rev. March (Ares).

Subjects: Literature.


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Authors

John Updike (1932—2009) American novelist, poet, and short-story writer


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