And yet I have always appreciated that Updike valued literature as a means of delight. Updike believed in fiction. As he noted in a late piece for "This I Believe" on NPR (included in Due Considerations):
A person believes various things at various times, even on the same day. At the age of 73, I seem most instinctively to believe in the human value of creative writing, whether in the form of verse or fiction, as a mode of truth-telling, self-expression and homage to the twin miracles of creation and consciousness. The special value of these indirect methods of communication -- as opposed to the value of factual reporting and analysis -- is one of precision. Oddly enough, the story or poem brings us closer to the actual texture and intricacy of experience.
In fiction, imaginary people become realer to us than any named celebrity glimpsed in a series of rumored events, whose causes and subtler ramifications must remain in the dark. An invented figure like Anna Karenina or Emma Bovary emerges fully into the light of understanding, which brings with it identification, sympathy and pity. I find in my own writing that only fiction -- and rarely, a poem -- fully tests me to the kind of limits of what I know and what I feel. In composing even such a frank and simple account as this profession of belief, I must fight against the sensation that I am simplifying and exploiting my own voice.
In a way, I'm still reeling from this news. It's surprising how the loss of such a figure can make one feel lonelier, that somehow a conversation has been shrunk, cut short, while there was still much more to say.