By John Updike
During this antic riff on Hawthorne's Scarlet Letter, the Reverend Tom Marshfield, a latter-day Arthur Dimmesdale, is distributed west from his Midwestern parish in sexual shame. At a desolate tract retreat devoted to relaxation, game, and non secular renewal, this fortyish serial fornicator is needed to maintain a magazine whose thirty-one weekly entries represent the booklet you presently carry on your hand. In his splendidly overwrought sort he lays naked his soul and his past--his marriage to the daughter of his ethics professor, his affair together with his organist, his antipathetic conversations together with his senile father and his bisexual curate, his golfing rankings, his poker palms, his Biblical exegeses, and his smoldering wish for the directress of the retreat, the impregnable Ms. Prynne. A testomony for our times.
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Additional info for A Month of Sundays: A Novel
Le[tt]res, certaine stepes A septer, in her left hand, she did hould. Who when Muses poeticall she sawe, 30 Unto my bed to be approached neare, Indittinge sonnets W P. w'^'^ my woes might showe, eies like fire inflamed, thus she spake. / These nether] neith[er] harlotts Sccenicall° MS who doth permit, [1 v] BOOK ONE 22 Neare to From 35 this pensive patient to p[re]sume, helpinge these his paines That they who are so farre, sugred poyson feed^ his greife. w^*^ weeds ffor these are such, as w^*" unfruitfull Of passions, slay the graine of reason sound.
Sith then mans cheifest care is of his life Oh happie thou if thou thie state dydst'^ knowe) Who yet possessest these more deare then life. / 35 Cease then thy Nor For " impute] '^ doth not much frowne. / do much p[re]sent comfort neither will refraine. art deleted with ute inserted above with caret dydst] dost altered to dydst ("y" inserted into second "d") assaile. freinds like ancors fixed firme remaine, Who 40 cares, fortune sturdie stormes thy ship word after first "d" and "o" modified to BOOK TWO 48 Nor hope^^ of future good will backe detaine.
For why doth fortune fraile such courses chaungef 35 Men guiltlesse are condemn'd to torments strange, Whose punishments were fitt For men impure: But wicked wretches 40 In seates secure. sitt / Whose pride treades downe, by course offate uniust, The sacred neckes of reverend Saints most rare, Vertue contemned is to comers thrust,^^ lust men condemned are. No periury, no fraude at all anoyeth: Nor forged falshood vicious men destroyeth. Of cursed crymes 45 But Kinges they can subdue At hartes desire, Maugre° their Subiects^^ true^ Who^^ them admyre.