Donald Barthelme

Donald Barthelme (bärt´əlmē), 1931–89, American writer, b. Philadelphia. The son of an architect, he grew up in Texas, moved (1962) to New York City, worked as a curator and an editor, and taught creative writing at several universities. In his short stories and novels, Barthelme describes a world so unreal that traditional modes of fiction can no longer encompass it. His stories are frequently literary collages, employing advertising jargon, bits of text from other writers' works, counterfeit footnotes, recondite allusions, and various typographical and narrative extravagances to fit his own private and ironic vision of an absurd reality. Barthelme's works include the novels Snow White (1967) and The Dead Father (1975); the short-story collections Unspeakable Practices, Unnatural Acts (1968), City Life (1970), Sadness (1972), Great Days (1979), and Sixty Stories (1981); a collection of nonfiction pieces, Guilty Pleasures (1974); and a children's book (1971).

See biography by T. Daugherty (2009); memoirs by his brothers F. and S. Barthelme (1999) and his ex-wife H. M. Barthelme (2001); studies by L. Gordon (1981), W. B. Stengel (1985), S. Trachtenberg (1990), R. F. Patteson, ed. (1992), B. L. Roe (1992), and M. T. Hudgens (2001).

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright© 2013, The Columbia University Press.

Selected full-text books and articles on this topic

In the Singer's Temple: Prose Fictions of Barthelme, Gaines, Brautigan, Piercy, Kesey, and Kosinski
Jack Hicks.
University of North Carolina Press, 1981
Fiction in the Quantum Universe
Susan Strehle.
University of North Carolina Press, 1992
Librarian’s tip: Chap. Seven "Paradise and the Uncertain Principles of Actualism" by Donald Barthelme
Critical Angles: European Views of Contemporary American Literature
Marc Chénetier.
Southern Illinois University Press, 1986
Librarian’s tip: Chap. 10 "On the Pertinaciousness of the Father, the Son, and the Subject: The Case of Donald Barthelme"
Cognitive Poetics in Practice
Joanna Gavins; Gerard Steen.
Routledge, 2003
Librarian’s tip: Chap. 10 "''Too Much Blague?': An Exploration of the Text Worlds of Donald Barthelme's Snow White"
Heteroglossia and Collage: Donald Barthelme's 'Snow White.'
Sloboda, Nicholas.
Mosaic (Winnipeg), Vol. 30, No. 4, December 1997
Disastrous Aesthetics: Irony, Ethics, and Gender in Barthelme's Snow White
Nealon, Jeffrey T.
Twentieth Century Literature, Vol. 51, No. 2, Summer 2005
Apollo and Dionysus: Donald Barthelme's Dance of Life
Waxman, Robert.
Studies in Short Fiction, Vol. 33, No. 2, Spring 1996
Literary Subversions: New American Fiction and the Practice of Criticism
Jerome Klinkowitz.
Southern Illinois University Press, 1985
Librarian’s tip: "Donald Barthelme: A Comprehensive Bibliography (1977)" begins on p. 184
A Reader's Companion to the Short Story in English
Erin Fallon; R. C. Feddersen; James Kurtzleben; Maurice A. Lee; Susan Rochette-Crawley.
Greenwood Press, 2001
Librarian’s tip: "Donald Barthelme (April 7, 1931-July 23, 1989)" begins on p. 57
Postmodernist Fiction
Brian McHale.
Routledge, 1987
Librarian’s tip: Discussion of Donald Barthelme begins on p. 162
The Self-Apparent Word: Fiction as Language/Language as Fiction
Jerome Klinkowitz.
Southern Illinois University Press, 1984
Librarian’s tip: Discussion of Donald Barthelme begins on p. 71
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