‘Both religious belief and sexual activity are ways of demonstrating that we are alive,’ declared John Updike in discussing the two main preoccupations of his new book, Roger’s Version. ‘The book is in place with The Scarlet Letter, it is about adultery as seen now rather than then.’
Updike has carefully structured an account of what he calls a dance between four characters, Roger Lambert the narrator, Esther his wife, Verna his niece and Dale Kohler – a young computer whizz-kid whose mission is to prove God’s existence through a computer at the University where Roger is Professor of Theology. What gave Updike the idea?
‘I have always enjoyed reading theology and take comfort in it against the alarming prospect of my own death and existence in the cosmic scheme.’
He got the computer angle when his word processor once threw out a jumble of figures at him that looked like Christ’s face, ‘a kind of Veronica.’ It was a spooky experience and one which has never been repeated. That coupled with the fact that science has a habit of