John Barth

John Barth (bärth), 1930–, American writer, b. Cambridge, Md. He attended Johns Hopkins (B.A. 1951, M.A. 1952), and, beginning in 1973, taught writing at its graduate school for nearly 20 years. Barth's postmodern novels—experimental, comic, self-referential, and often sprawling—reflect his anger and despair at a world he finds ludicrous and meaningless. While his early books were extravagantly praised, many critics have viewed his later work as verbose and bordering on incomprehensibility. Barth has a particular gift for parody. One of his best-known novels, The Sot-Weed Factor (1960), is set in 17th-century Maryland and deftly satirizes historical novels. His other fiction includes The Floating Opera (1956), The End of the Road (1958), Giles Goat-Boy (1966), Chimera (1972), Letters (1979), Sabbatical (1982), Once upon a Time (1994), Coming Soon!!! (2001), the stories and commentary of The Book of Ten Nights and a Night (2004), the novellas of Where Three Roads Meet (2005), and the end-of-life stories of The Development (2008).

See studies by C. B. Harris (1983) and E. P. Walkiewicz (1986).

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

Selected full-text books and articles on this topic

Literary Subversions: New American Fiction and the Practice of Criticism
Jerome Klinkowitz.
Southern Illinois University Press, 1985
Librarian’s tip: "John Barth: Fiction in an Age of Criticism" begins on p. 3
Between Two Worlds: The American Novel in the 1960's
Sanford Pinsker.
Whitston, 1980
Librarian’s tip: Chap. V "John Barth: The Teller Who Swallowed His Tale"
Self-Knowledge and Self-Conception: The Therapy of Autobiography in John Barth's Lost in the Funhouse
Martin, W. Todd.
Studies in Short Fiction, Vol. 34, No. 2, Spring 1997
Done with Mirrors: Restoring the Authority Lost in John Barth's Funhouse
Worthington, Marjorie.
Twentieth Century Literature, Vol. 47, No. 1, Spring 2001
The Play of the Double in Postmodern American Fiction
Gordon E. Slethaug.
Southern Illinois University Press, 1993
Librarian’s tip: Chap. 5 "'Neither One Nor Quite Two': Barth's Lost in the Funhouse"
Silverless Mirrors: Book, Self & Postmodern American Fiction
Charles Caramello.
University Presses of Florida, 1983
Librarian’s tip: Chap. 4 "Lost in the Funhouse and Other Refractions"
Paradox of Origin(ality): John Barth's 'Menelaiad.'
Zhang, Benzi.
Studies in Short Fiction, Vol. 32, No. 2, Spring 1995
Fiction in the Quantum Universe
Susan Strehle.
University of North Carolina Press, 1992
Librarian’s tip: Chap. 5 "John Barth Letters and the Relative Frame"
The Self-Conscious Novel: Artifice in Fiction from Joyce to Pynchon
Brian Stonehill.
University of Pennsylvania Press, 1988
Librarian’s tip: Chap. VIII "A Trestle of Letters"
Epistolary Responses: The Letter in 20th-Century American Fiction and Criticism
Anne Bower.
University of Alabama Press, 1997
Librarian’s tip: Chap. 4 "'Help! Love Me! I Grow Old!': The Central Role of Germanine Pitt in John Barth's Letters"
The Confessions of Todd Andrews: Double-Directed Discourse in the Floating Opera
Conti, Chris.
Studies in the Novel, Vol. 36, No. 4, Winter 2004
Modern/Postmodern: A Study in Twentieth-Century Arts and Ideas
Silvio Gaggi.
University of Pennsylvania Press, 1989
Librarian’s tip: Chap. 5 "Writing about Writing: John Fowles and John Barth"
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